Saturday, January 23, 2010

What Makes a Writer

A recent comment by Jozien, who writes "Keeper of Wild Places," caused me to contemplate this. A creative writing instructor I had once said "readers read and writer's write." I would add that in order to be a writer it is integral that one reads and studies lots of writing in all different genre’s and forms.

Writing is an art. And like any art there are many forms and levels of writing and writers: journalists, columnists, bloggers, non-fiction, creative non-fiction, short fiction, novel, copyrighters, business writers, policy writers, the list could go on.

Not every writer desires to be published, but this doesn't make them less of a writer. What makes someone a writer is much like the question what makes an artist. Is it the painting which makes the painter or the painter who makes the painting? Is it others that deem whether or not someone is an artist or how the artist views themselves. I believe is it’s a bit of both. And I think it depends on the reasons you are a writer how this process of acknowledgement works.

I started writing at the age of 7. Inspired by the "Little House on the Prairie," books. I was amazed by the idea that someone wrote about their life and people wanted to read it. I wish I knew where the two or three draft chapters of my life, lovingly created at that time in a homemade newsprint book, went; lost in some move.

But, it wasn’t until I realized at 33 that writing, at the deepest part of my soul, is an integral part of who I am, something I have to do everyday as much as breathing, that I truly saw myself as a writer. And after that personal epiphany I was surprised to be informed by everyone who knew me, they’d “wondered when I was going to figure that one out.” (Yes, for those who heard my fiction story, The Wall, at Brave New Words this month... that particular part of the story was true).

People write for many reasons including: self-expression, work, enjoyment. For some it’s simply the joy of putting words on paper, creating characters, discovering who those characters are and imagining their lives. For other's it’s a way to work through things, understand and make sense of the world.

Great writers such as Hemmingway, Dickens, Twain, Attwood, aside from achieving the fame and report many of us dream of, have also become masters of their craft like the great painters: Angelo, Di Vinci, Rembrandt.... They have broken through the bounds of convention and created something larger than themselves and their art in how they connect with the reader.

I know I have a long way to go to achieve what I want for myself as a writer. But, I'm constantly pushing my bounds, growing, trying new things, finding out where my limits are as a writer and stretching them. My aim isn't fame, but perhaps it is the stars. My mother was right, for me as a writer, I have something to say to humanity... and I will say it.


  1. Good for you! And good post. I too think that you can't be a writer without wanting to read, read others, and be read and understand what a reader is like. Those masters read a lot too...just to become familiar with what you COULD do with words.

  2. Thanks. You're right. I never thought of that, but of course the masters would have read too. I wonder who were the masters in those days? Curiously we had a discussion about this in a workshop I went to this afternoon, only it had to do with painters and how it doesn't just happen... it happens through hard work and dedication.