What makes a writer?

I’m a writer. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to be. I am fortunate enough to make a living at it.

Like many writers, however, I find myself defending my professional choices to those around me including clients, friends, family and yes, even myself. There have been times when I have found myself “hating” what I write or worse, not “writing” at all. Times when I question what I was thinking when I set out to be a writer and why I stuck with it this long. I’ve felt like a fraud because I wrote rather than doing. On the other hand when I did something rather than writing I felt like a fraud, too, because I let myself be in the moment rather than capture it on paper.

After nearly a quarter of a century and half my life I have finally come to the realization that almost every writer I know has experienced these same ups and downs and sideways and front ways and back ways for themselves. So what makes me and my ways different?


Oh the circumstances are unique to each writer as are the lessons they learn or don’t learn. The experiences, however, are pretty common. If you call yourself a writer and you haven’t had one or more of them yet, relax. You will. And if you still call yourself a writer when you get to the over side or better yet in the midst of them well then welcome to the club. You are not alone.

What makes me, or anyone, a writer isn’t whether they have been published or had their work produced or even had it read by someone other than themselves. A writer may not even earn any money from what they write. They may not ever finish a book, a script or even a haiku. They are still a writer. They may even be a successful writer depending on how they define success. Because for most writers it is the writing that matters. It is that act of putting words together on paper or on a screen that drives us and keeps bringing us back to what and who we are: writers.

Simple as that sounds, it can be hard for people to understand. It can be hard for us to understand. So the next time you find yourself wondering what the hell you were thinking when you became a writer remember this:

A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood. (Leo Rosten)

To be a writer is to want to be understood and not be ashamed to admit it. To be a writer is to look for answers everywhere.In documenting our search, we discover what we believe is true and share it with others. To be a writer is to boldly go, not where other have not gone, but where they have been, see it with new eyes and find something different. To be a writer is to be brave and unique, especially when that is the last thing we think we are.

I am a writer. It is all I want to be. I am lucky. My words give me wings.

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