When is a Writer a Writer?

I have a full time day job. I’m fortunate that I don’t get a lot of interruptions while I’m working. I can think about plots and characters and even jot down a note whenever I come up with something good. It’s a free floating sort of thought process. Consequently, my desk at home is filled with sticky notes and small pieces of paper.

When I get home from work I drop the notes on my desk, and later I come back to them. If I had a good idea for a story while at work, I’ll find the note and, more often than not, I’ll end up using the idea. There is something about the free floating thought process that digs up some really good ideas.

There are times when I don’t want to think about my stories. I’m ready to write and am waiting to get home. When I’m like that, I listen to podcasts. They are often about writing. One of the constant topics is how to make more money as a writer. And one of the constant pieces of advice is to ‘write every day’. One podcast went so far as to say if a writer did not physically string words together every day they were not really a writer.

Um what?

I beg to disagree. Every time I’m working on a plot in my head, taking notes, working through those notes, working out characters and scenes, I’m writing. Every story I edit is part of my writing. Every conversation I have about my stories is part of what makes me a writer. Who but the most advanced, accomplished, and utterly confident writer can never think about what they want to write but just sit down and hammer out their story? Who but that person never spends time jotting down notes and talking about their ideas?

I don’t write every day but I am always plotting and thinking about my next story. I am a writer and so is anyone who loves to write enough they keep returning to fill an empty page.

Writing is the ultimate goal of a writer, of course, but not achieving that goal every single day does not mean a person is not a writer. What it does mean is a person will not become a better writer as quickly as they could if they did write every day. The person who does not write every day will not finish their story as soon. They will not sell as much. They will not be as successful as they could be.

If the goal of a writer is to sell and be successful as quickly as possible, then that writer should write every day and they should write for a specific amount of time every day, whatever they decide fits in their schedule. To become successful requires constant output and constant selling.

Are those of us who work a full time job and don’t worry about their level of success writers? Yes!

Are those of us who enjoy our own work and don’t give a damn about publishing writers? Yes!

We might not be paying our bills with advances from books but we are writers. Just as a person who drives is a driver, a person who writes is a writer. We might not always be paid for the work but we drive and we write to get where we want to go, and that is enough of a goal for many.

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