How to define a writer? Writers are this:

1090780_spell_checkAs I get “The King’s Sons” ready for publication at the end of the month (yikes!) and put together my writer’s handbook, “Writing for You: A Novelist’s Guide to the Craft of Fiction,” I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the things that define us as writers. As novelists. As wordsmiths.

I think most writers have a lot of characteristics in common. These traits are a part of who we are and a part of what drives us to write. That’s not to say every writer is the same, or that you aren’t a writer if you don’t fit the bill, because there’s always diversity in a category this broad. But I’m proud to think that, in general:

  • Writers are lifelong students. We are students of life, culture, and the world we inhabit. Though words and language are our forte, I know many writers like myself who are fascinated by science: medicine, biology, geography, chemistry. We read about history and technological developments. All these things help us in our writing–they constitute research–but we would study even if we didn’t write. We are learners. And one way we learn, especially about ourselves, is through our writing.
  • Writers know how to value the little things. We understand how the little tweak to a sentence–cutting an adverb here, removing an adjective there–can vastly improve our writing. Likewise, we understand the value of the little things in contexts that are much more important. We try not to take the small but real joys of life for granted. We understand that the children in our lives won’t be children forever. We take advantage of a beautiful spring day. We understand that the tiny smile on our face when our cat gives us a head bump or jumps up next to us is a large blessing. Of course, you don’t have to be a writer to appreciate these things. But the nuances of writing are good at teaching you to notice the little things.
  • Writers are thinkers. And we taking thinking seriously. We almost feel a duty, as part of life, to wrestle the “big questions” of existence. What really matters in life? What brings happiness? What’s the definition of happiness? What’s the meaning of death? We might come to different conclusions, but we think about these things. Sometimes, we even use our fiction to think through these quandaries.
  • Writers understand the need to sometimes be alone. That’s not to say we aren’t and can’t be social. That we don’t enjoy being social or don’t have healthy relationships with friends and family. But we also view “alone time” not as a luxury, but as a requirement for our health. We need time to think, to decompress, to formulate and connect ideas.
  • Writers turn everything into a story. It’s our nature to create, to expand, to embellish. Every picture becomes a story. Every stranger we see passing by the window gets assigned a personal history. Story is how we interact with the world around us.

So, how do you define being a writer? Do you fit the descriptions I gave, or are you a bit different? (Or a lot different?)

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46 responses to “How to define a writer? Writers are this:

  1. I agree on all points. That is extremely accurate, I can see myself in all of those traits. One thing I would add that I noticed in my fiction writing lecture, writers tend to want more out of life than the usual. We want to live the adventures we write and we want our lives to be great stories. Thanks for this post!

    • Thanks for your addition, Marcelle! I love what you say there. I think it would hold true for a TON of writers out there. I know I often wish I could consider myself as brave as my characters.

  2. Hi !! Also we eat alot of ice cream and love travelling 🙂

  3. Also can you tell me how you have displayed nanowrimo on your page? i’d like to do the same. Winners !! Awaiting your reply !

    • When I officially validated as winner, I got a list of codes from NaNoWriMo.

      Select the image you want and get the main URL. I put that into an “image” widget and put the widget in my display bar for it to show.

      I hope that helps!!!

  4. I love this list! I’m always turning things into stories. That absolutely sums me up! 🙂

    I also find that writers can be very compassionate people. They’re used to inhabiting different emotional spaces as they write, so they can use those skills when being interacting with people. Have you noticed that? I don’t think it naturally comes to all writers, but I’d think there would be a fair percentage who would fit that description.

  5. I never really tried to define being a writer because I always though everyone was different. I also tended to define myself as a writer without much detail. Like Popeye, I am what I am. Now, I think your list does cover the universal truths of the writer persona. In regards to the third point, writers can have that problem of overthinking and end up stuck in a loop of confusion.

  6. I really like this post! Very good description of a Writer.
    Oh, and I nominated you for the WordPress Wonderful Team Member Award! 🙂 Enjoy!

  7. Agree! Especially on the “Lifelong Students” aspect. Cool post!

  8. I was about to comment, “#1 is spot on! yes!” and then, “Oh and #2!! That’s the winner!” … finally came to end and decided they were all true.

  9. Pingback: Self-Publishing World » How to define a writer? Writers are this:

  10. Impressive were your points! 🙂 I too had written about “who is a writer ” few days back.. Just have a look and let me know what you think about the same!

  11. Emily Rickard

    I agree on all points made. This description fits me to a T. I was just wondering if we all liked the same music? Classical, metal etc…

    • That’s a great point! I’m a big fan of country music and musicals. Some classical but not generally. I enjoy classic rock a lot too. I’d say most writers appreciate music, but we’re probably drawn to a variety of types…. just like we write in a variety of genres.

  12. I don’t know if you already have one but I am nominating you for the Versatile Blogger Award

    • thanks JCC! I’m honored! I think I’ve gotten that one but it’s been so long since I’ve been able to “accept” a blog award it’s pretty much new 🙂

      • Great! I was wondering if you had gotten it before but glad to hear it’s at least been a while. I am posting the nominees on my post on Rogue Mission and will also be copying the post to my wordpress blog to name the nominees.

  13. Excellent description! I actually saw a question on Linked In asking what the difference between an Author and a Writer is. I would love to link your post to it (with your permission, of course). Writers are truly unique individuals whether they are published or not!

  14. Allen Houmper

    I completely agree with all of your points. Especially your last point, dead on.

  15. for me it can be obsessive, i have to write, nothing else will do, the void has to be filled and writing is it.
    And off course, all writers are the Master of the Universe for they create the whole essence of their story from their imagination.

  16. To put it into Deep South English: You’re downright psychic.

  17. And one way to turn everything into a story is to find humour in everything!

    • I totally agree!!! I’m not great at making jokes but that’s way different than finding the humor in things. I hadn’t considered your point, but I think you are dead on. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Reblogged this on Fifty Shades of Tribute – Sasha Cameron and commented:
    I making a recommendation here, to all of those people who I have met on this journey, who like me, feel that they are at the beginning. Still working out voice. Wondering if and when to make the move to publish your original story. Perhaps enjoying the accolades of fanfiction or having just shifted into blogging and wondering if you have the writing stamina to keep all of the authorial balls in the air. It is sites like this one that give me hope but also give me pause. When you find these little gems, these places where you can get answers to questions that you weren’t even certain you had, then they worth just hanging around in for a while. Fossick around under the rocks and see what you can learn about your craft. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I’m off to visit some of her friends; they look like fun too!

  19. Thegreysfan01

    Totally agree with those things, I may only be new to the world of writing but I am enjoying myself thoroughly. I have a very active imagination which allows me to picture, scenes and events in my head. I just wish my hands could keep up with my brain hehe 🙂

  20. I agree, writers are all of the above. I also define writers as being able to create something from nothing.

  21. Reblogged this on Ink Drop Interviews Presents… and commented:
    An article worth passing along….

  22. I’m only thirteen, and I can see all of these traits in myself! This list is extremely accurate. I also agree with everyone else’s ideas. Especially the ice cream one. 🙂
    This is my definition of a fiction writer: Someone who has found their way into other dimensions and is eager to share their adventures with the rest of the world.

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