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.