What makes a writer?
I am a sucker for articles and blog posts about being a writer. I’m always curious to read the advice of others, and their take on what it means to be a writer, because, if you follow me, you know I’ve got my own opinions.
As writers, and, as such, artists, I believe that we are prone to constantly wondering about whether our writing is good enough, whether our storytelling is intriguing enough, and whether others will actually read and enjoy our strung-together words. This is especially true when you’re starting out.
When I started writing and devoured everything I could about writing, I remember reading about some famous writer who would get in the groove and forget to eat, drink, or be merry while writing. The individual relating the anecdote said that this was the way to be a writer. Your focus had to be so intense that you forgot everything around you. That happened infrequently to me. Did this mean I couldn’t be a writer?
In the past week, I read a similar declaration. Lose yourself in your writing. This is what makes a writer.
I am now at a place in my writing where I can state that it’s lovely if you’re lost in your writing. Seriously it is. When I write longer pieces, I do sometimes become lost in my writing. When I emerge, it’s like I’m in a state of euphoria. I am coming back to the real world from my mental adventures. But that does not mean you have to be constantly in that state to be a writer.
A writer is someone who writes. Period.
What makes a writer? Reading. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. I have to throw reading in because, regardless of what you’ve discovered about the art of writing, I don’t believe that you can do it well unless you read. You read your favorite writers and discover their tricks, their rhythms, what makes them good writers. As an aside, I wonder why anyone would want to be a writer if they haven’t been a voracious reader first. If you have an answer to that one, please do share it with me.
In the article, it suggested that you also don’t edit as you write. Well, I’ve heard that one, especially for getting your first novel draft written. That philosophy does have more than a glimmer of truth when you’re writing something long. The point is to get as many words on paper to achieve your daily goal without going back and fussing over it. There will be time after you’ve written “The End” to do that.
However, when I’m writing a flash fiction piece, I am constantly re-reading and editing as I write while also keeping an eye on word count. I want the piece to be as concise as possible while making an interesting bit of fiction that also hits the word count. I will admit, however, that a lot of the writing has already occurred before I move to my computer. My brains lumbers (yes, lumbers, at least that’s what it frequently feels like) through different scenarios until it finds one it likes, and then it begins storytelling. Without computer. Or paper. Sometimes it feels as if it’s without me.
So, in the end, what makes a writer? You. Writing.
Go write now. Be a writer.