What Makes You a Writer?

What Makes a Person a Writer?

I secretly signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November 2011, though I had never finished a novel before. As an artsy person, I had tons of story ideas, surely I could write a book by the end of the month? I finished the 50k book a day before the deadline! I went on to complete another book in June, and a third in August of the same year. What I learned from the experience is that I can finish a book, or whatever “it” happens to be, if there is a deadline. Though I completed the rough drafts—and I mean rough, rough drafts—I didn’t know if that made me a writer. Was I a poser or a pretend writer?  I guess I had a prior mental image of what a real writer looked like, or that a person needed some sort of degree.

With that said, there will always be writing virtuosos among us; the authors that exhibit skillful deployment of language as quickly as Rembrandt painted portraits.  However, writing novels (at least fiction) is storytelling. Storytelling does not require an English degree–though it can help. The components for language are not the same as the ability to tell convincing stories. Likewise, being a great musician doesn’t require a person to be an expert at music theory or reading music. Whether what you write is good enough for the masses or not depends on the passion you have for it,  what you put into it, the quality of the story you tell, how much its crafted, and especially, getting it out to the right readers.
According to Julia Cameron, known for The Artist Way series, “If you write, you’re a writer.”  There is no qualification test required before a person can officially be labeled a writer.  Without a doubt, that there is a difference between “dabbling” and having actual books. If you finish what you write, then you have a book. Once you have that, you can do anything with it. It can be edited, illustrated, published, made into a movie, and many other things.

If you write, you’re a writer. But, you do have to finish it first.


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