What Makes YOU A Writer?

by limebirdwriters

I’m guessing that the majority of people reading this will write on a regular basis. Whether it’s writing your piece of fiction, piecing together a blog, or even those who write as a profession, but what is the difference between just ‘scribbling’ and being a ‘writer’?

So, let’s say you have a degree in Creative Writing and wrote a novel a few years ago, but now work in a bank, are you a writer?

How about if you’re an accountant by profession and don’t have a relevant degree, but like to write fan fiction in the evenings. Would your writing be worse than the former with the degree and novel? Well, I don’t think so.

Although having a degree or a job in the writing world does help, I don’t think it means that you are more of a writer than someone who doesn’t get paid to write. I think if you want to be a writer, you will be a writer. I don’t agree that you need hundreds of books under your belt or a daily blog, I would say it’s all about passion, drive and creativity.

I’ve seen a lot of people talking about what they say makes a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ writer, but I think some of this is down to personal preference. One person might love your piece of work/book/blog and the next might hate it. However, I think a massive sign of a ‘good writer’, is one that is open to constructive criticism and changes to their work. This is because they are always striving to be better and also because they are writing, simply because they love it so much.

Personally, I don’t like the term ‘bad writer’, because who are we to determine if someone isn’t good? Sure, I’ve read stuff that doesn’t completely engage me, but what might not be my cup of tea, might be perfect for someone else. However, there are some things that could be looked at, if you want to become the best writer you can be.

The first of these is not to be adverse to rewriting and editing. Not being able to accept advice and constructive criticism on how to improve your work could be your downfall. Some writers will become angry or defensive towards someone who is offering changes to their work, which isn’t the way to go. An outsider to your work could help you make it flow better, or they may pick up on things you didn’t see, like grammar, spelling or continuity errors. Even small mistakes can make the biggest difference to your work and not being able to accept these could be a big stumbling block to your progression as a writer.

I think one of the most important things to do to improve your writing is to practice, practice, practice. Write as much as you can, read as much as you can and get as much as feedback as you can. What I try and do is always take a notebook around with me and take inspiration from everything! Writing shouldn’t be forced or a chore, you should let it ebb and flow out of you. When this happens and you put your passion into everything that you do, it will show.

One of the most important things to think of while you’re writing, is – “Am I enjoying this?” If the answer to this is yes, then chances are, your readers will enjoy it too.

So, what do you think? What makes a writer, and how can you tell if they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’?

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader — not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”
― E.L. Doctorow

29 Comments to “What Makes YOU A Writer?”

  1. I think someone is a “writer” when they take the time to write, when they take the time to dream and create ideas, and when they need nothing more than just to get their words out on paper, laptop, typewriter, whatever.

    I agree with you that there really is no “bad” writing. Like you said, if I don’t like someone’s writing, doesn’t mean the next person won’t. If someone has the motivation and the heart to write, then it never is “bad” writing.

    Great post, Beth! 🙂

    • Thanks Kalie! I definitely agree that a ‘writer’ is someone who takes the time to write and create ideas, as that’s the most important thing!

      Exactly, I guess you can be ‘technically’ better, eg sentence structure, grammar, spelling, punctuation etc, but I think the most important thing is the passion!

  2. What makes me a writer? I’m more than willing to put my opinions, my imagination and my heart out into the public arena. Hopefully, I’ll engage a dialogue to enrich my life, influence others, and just plain have fun. The fundamental key is to take the risk. Without risk, the reward is elusive.

  3. If you are brave enough to bare your heart and soul to the world using the written word… then you are a writer.

    Thank you for posting this. 🙂

  4. Hm. I think one of the big differences is having dedication and perseverance. Those are the keys to being a “real” writer, if there even is such a real thing. But all the successful writers I know have those two qualities. They may write different genres, styles, etc, but they all have those same to qualities.

    • Hi Kenneth, thank you for your comment! Yes, exactly, I completely agree. I write for my job (Copywriter) and I write for pleasure and although they are very different, I apply (like you said) dedication and perseverance to both types of writing! 🙂

  5. A writer is one who writes, it really doesn’t matter what or in what media–blog, private journal, newspaper, books, research papers, you name it. A person is neither a “good” nor “bad” writer; but any writer is capable of wonderful or horrible writing.

    For me, what makes a piece of writing wonderful is that it captures my full attention, is clear and precise, isn’t pretentious, and makes me want to read more. Horrible writing is the opposite!

    • Hi Lorna,

      Yes definitely. Like I said, just because you get paid to write, it doesn’t make you any more of a writer than someone who doesn’t. I’ve had some terrible pieces of work in my time, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not still a writer.

      I think wanting to read more is a very key aspect of a ‘good’ piece of writing. It could be the most technically brilliant piece of prose, but if it’s boring and lackluster, then what’s the point?

  6. Limebirdbeth, I consider Content writers spam and don’t approve their comments. I also don’t trust the nature of their blog, but I have no proof and that is just my own opinion. They have multiple blogs following and the same message is always posted on my blog. I spam each of them.

    As for bad writing, I do think there is bad writing. When you write something just to write it when even you as the author know it is terrible, honestly and truly terrible, and pass it off as amazing, I consider that bad writing. I mean terrible as in, well, it’s hard for me to explain. This mainly is for established writers not for beginning writers.Everyone is entitled to an off book, even an established writer, if they admit it had a fault its ok.

    And what makes a person a writer? If the truly consider themselves a writer and wants to constantly improve, do their best, and maybe one day show the world, I think that makes a person a writer. People considering this sort of work ‘bad’ is irrelevant to me, because it doesn’t fit my definition of bad writing.

    Disclaimer: Opinions expressed may change in time. 😉

    • Hey!

      Thank you, I did think they might be spam, so I’ve deleted it now 🙂 I see what you mean, there are bad practices in writing, but I find it difficult to call something ‘bad’. Like I mentioned in the post, what we might not find interesting at all, might be highly engaging for another reader. I would prefer instead to just say it’s not my preferred choice of reading.

      For example in my post about books I couldn’t read, I touched upon the Stieg Larsson books. For me, I found his writing clunky and difficult to read, whereas others think it’s the best thing they have ever read!

      Exactly, I completely agree with that. I think it all comes down to whether you enjoy the written word. If you do and you write, then you are writer to me.

  7. Except opinions about content writers, that probably won’t change. I forgot I talked about that in the beginning, sorry for the ambiguous wording.

  8. In my not-so-formally educated, marching to my own drummer opinion, I believe if you put words down on paper or onto a screen, with thought, care and an intent to convey something, anything to a reader – then you are a writer. Of course, that is a noun. The thing to consider is the adjective that goes with it.

    “Good” writers, “Poor” writers, whatever. Like you said, what is good to me may suck for you. Hell, the audience rioted at the premiere of Stravinky’s Le sacre du printemps.in 1913. At least Walt Disney and Frank Zappa saw the value, albeit probably with different vision. Writing music, writing words, it’s all the same.

    I try to read others’ stuff, especially those who write “differently” from me. It all helps form me as a writer. You want to do something scary? Go back and look at some of your early works. If you are a writer, you will be writing, and as you do so, you will subtly improve, bit by bit. Your first works are your roots. Don’t forget them, but try not to go back to them!

    My advice, if you think you are a writer – then keep writing!

    • Hi DJ,
      I really like that quote – ‘Of course, that is a noun. The thing to consider is the adjective that goes with it.’ I think that’s very true.

      Like I mentioned in the reply to Ottabelle, I really didn’t ‘get’ the Stieg Larsson books. I couldn’t read his writing, I found is confusing, clunky and disengaging, but others couldn’t get enough of it. So, I would never dismiss someone’s writing as ‘bad’ simply because I didn’t like it.

      Yes, I like to do this regularly. I like to challenge myself to read things I’ve never read before or things that aren’t usually my preferred genre. I have the utmost respect for anyone who writes, especially a book as I know how hard it is. The least I can do is give it some of my time. Hence why it’s quite a big deal for me to put a book down!

  9. I wrote a blog post on this not long ago and said “If you love the craft of writing and you work at it with pleasure (or pain), then call yourself a writer.” I wanted to encourage myself and others who are hesitant to take the title of “writer” because we haven’t been published or been paid for our writing yet. I’ve started saying “I’m a writer” when people ask what I do (even though I work full-time as an administrative assistant). That answer sparked several good conversations and revealed other writers in my circle!

    • I’ll have to check your blog post out Darla! 🙂 Yes, I definitely agree with that sentence. Like you said, some people are hesitant to call themselves a writer, simply because they don’t get paid for it.

      Like I pointed out my post, the person who is an accountant, writing in their spare time, is just as much a writer as the person with the novel! I think being a writer is all about your passion and determination to write!

  10. When passion is allowed to flow unfettered on paper/virtual ink, it showcases aspects of the writer’s personality. As so many have alluded to above, one man’s diet of alphabets may be unpalatable to others…but that shouldn’t be the qualifying criteria for a good writer!

    I have a weakness for writers who combine lucidity and profundity succinctly.

    Glad that Chance brought me to your blog’s doorsteps. You have a new reader!

    • Hi HaLin,

      Thank you for your comment! Succinct lucidity and profundity sounds delightful in a writer. Who would you describe as that?

      Well, we are very happy to have you here! Welcome! 🙂

      • Pleasure is mutual, limebirdbeth!

        Richard Feynman, the physicist (ironic but true!). That chap was brilliant at articulating pesky phenomena in terms that any layman could follow. His non-science writings are even more delightful.

        Off the area of science, I have been an ardent admirer of Jonathan Swift. His use of irony and satire is legendary. But his poems had that combination too. Cheerfully lucid, always makes me go back!

        I’d also enlist Bertrand Russell, G. B. Shaw and Dr. Seuss (of the Grinch who stole Christmas fame…). Dr. Seuss for his cartoons, especially. Spoke volumes, in a single panel.

        Who do you think fits that category?

      • Oh wow, that’s a big ask.

        I would say that an author, well one specific novel that I would say combines lucidity and profundity is ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ by J.D Salinger. Although I’m not necessarily using these terms in their traditional sense, I think the characterisation, and the way in which Holden carries himself is something which will stay with me forever.

        Other authors who I would add to the mix would be Mark Twain, Jostein Gaarder and Anita Desai. 🙂

  11. Ah, JDS! At the end of it, I felt the plot meandered a lot…but a good read. Speaking of JDS, have you had a chance to read For Esme, with Love and Squalor. It’s a collection of short stories of his. I liked it better than Rye.

    Twain, yes! I might also list some works of Oscar Wilde.

    Thank you for the heads up on the other authors. Haven’t read them, will check them out.

  12. Writing simply takes the practice of writing to do. It is, however, different to call yourself a professional writer. That requires that you actually get paid for writing. Which is all well.
    But to be a writer, as a writer alone, a writer need only write.

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