What Makes A True Writer?

Does one painting make a real artist? Does having written a couple poems make one a true poet? Does playing a few games of volleyball on the beach one summer make one a genuine athlete? Does writing a story or two make one a true writer? Just as a summer of beach fun or a stab at haiku doesn’t make one a real poet, creating a few items and stopping doesn’t make someone a true writer.

Dedication and followthrough are part of being a serious artist, or athlete, or writer. If someone writes only when they are inspired, or only a few pages every couple of months, are they legit? I think yes because the act of writing is recurrent, but it’s very difficult to complete anything at that rate. The more often and regularly a writer works, the more serious it shows he or she is about their craft.

Must a true writer have a published book? There’s a problem with that definition; it leaves out the neophyte writer who is working on their first novel and the serious author whose works haven’t yet been accepted by a publisher. Being published, while the goal of almost every writer, is not a real-world, accurate definition of a real writer.

Can a real writer be defined as someone who has published a book through traditional means? While it’s true that self-publishing does not carry the stigma it once had, there is still an undercurrent of feeling that unless a book has been accepted by a traditional publisher the work hasn’t been legitimized. However, I know a few genuinely talented authors who haven chosen the route of self-publishing through sheer frustration with traditional publishing venues, and I can’t fault them for it because I have done the same.

So what does make one a genuine writer? Is it any of these? Or is it simply the act of writing itself? I argue that a real writer is someone who writes regularly, whatever that regular schedule might mean; who is willing to work hard, and who can accept valid criticism and strive to become better at their craft. Last but not least, I would like to add zeal. A true writer is someone who is impelled to write, because they can’t NOT write. Because a person can’t stick with it year after year without that hunger and the drive to create with words.

I’m a true writer, in the fullest sense of the word. Are you?

About Julia French

Writer of contemporary horror fiction.
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