I saw a Facebook post by a friend today, something about taking a “What Kind of Writer are You?” quiz. I was perplexed for a moment, because I didn’t know he was a writer at all. And he’s not. But for some reason, EVERYONE thinks they can write a book or an article or whatever.
Why? My best guess is because, well, everyone writes: grocery lists, emails, social media posts, etc. It doesn’t make one a writer, let alone a good one.
A writer writes, yes, but a writer also tells a story, is committed to writing, treats it like a job or career or at least a hobby—in other words, makes time for writing instead of doing it whenever the urge strikes or there are a few minutes of free time.
Now, I don’t mean you have to write for X number of hours a day or have a schedule or whatever, but just because you write stuff, it doesn’t make you a writer.
Just like hammering a nail in the wall doesn’t make you a carpenter.
Think about that for a moment: we all have skills and “can” do numerous things, but that doesn’t make any of those things a career.
Stephen King says that you’re a writer if you wrote something, sold it, and used the money to pay a bill. Obviously, my bills are much smaller than his . . .
Of course, I could also add that you must repeat this process a few times, otherwise you simply wrote something and sold it. I could paint a picture and sell it (probably to my mother), but that doesn’t make me an artist unless I keep doing it. I can also, by the way, hammer a nail into the wall to hang a picture—but I can’t build a house.
Which brings me to my next point, one that I keep hammering into everyone’s heads (ha): you aren’t a writer if you don’t have the basic skills that are essential to your craft. Period. If you can’t spell or punctuate, learn how to do those things. I received a submission yesterday in which the author talked about her Book. No, it wasn’t a typo, it was consistent; even if it was a typo, it’s a pretty inexcusable one. She told me, of course, that she was a Writer.
If a carpenter can’t hammer in a nail, then he’s no carpenter; if a plumber can’t tighten a loose joint, he’s no plumber.
And if a writer can’t spell a word, he shouldn’t use it until he learns how to spell it. And he’s not going to write anything I want to read until he learns the basics.
Robin, what do you mean, you ‘can’t’ build a house? Of course you can. Have you ever heard the saying “What one man can do, another man can do” ? That applies to women too. There are many female carpenters. It is simple.Learn the necessary skills. Follow the instructions. “:) Oh, and you already have a FINE place to build one.
Ray, you missed the point – and it has nothing to do with my being a woman. JUST BECAUSE a person is able to hammer a nail into the wall doesn’t mean that he could just jump in and build an entire house right away. Same thing with writing. JUST BECAUSE a person writes a grocery list, doesn’t mean he also has the skill to write a book. Either person can learn, but it’s not an automatic process.
Robin, trust me, I didn’t miss the point, not at all. I most CERTAINLY was not talking about “gender”… I WAS addressing the generic statement that you “can’t. ”
When we (ALL PERSONS, ALL GENDERS) are SO sure we “can’t” do something, we are defeated before we ever pick up the pen or hammer.
Almost anyone ‘can’ if they set their mind to it and practice, and learn, that was MY point. “:)
That being said, there are people who genuinely “can’t”, the appropriate question being ‘Why not TRY?’
But again, if I said that right now I was going to build a house, I wouldn’t be able to – I’d first have to learn how, and then practice all the skills involved. Same with writing a book – we all learn to write in elementary school, but it takes learning and practice to be able to write a book. Simply because a person has a story idea and can write words or sentences, that doesn’t make the person a writer. Hammering a nail in the wall doesn’t make the person a homebuilder.
Interestingly, Robin, as a new rural property owner, it’s going to be a steep learning curve in many areas, some higher skills required, and otherwise a LOT of grunt work….sounds like writing doesn’t it… “:)
Thinking of a writer talking about her Book made me chuckle.
Me too! 🙂