Am I A Writer?

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What does it mean to be a writer?  There a million answers for that question.  Well…  Not a million but I think you know what I mean.  Right?  For me, the answer is pretty simple.  A writer is a person who writes.  So if you want to get intellectual about it, we can delve deeper and ask, “If a writer is a person who writes, then how much must they write to qualify?”  At the risk of sounding contrary, I could ask, “If I write one word a day, is that enough to be considered a writer?”

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eelke dekker via Compfight

I’ve been giving this significant thought lately because I have not been feeling particularly writerly. I’ve been looking at old writing.  I’ve been tweaking and editing.  I’ve been thinking and have internal conversations with characters.  But, I have not been putting anything new down onto paper.  The longer I go without actually creating anything new the more comfortable I become being a passive writer.  The more guilt.  The less I actually do. Bad bad cycle.  Right?

Maybe not.

I work as a breast oncology nurse.  I’m good at what I do, if I do say so myself.  I work five days a week for anywhere from 8-12 hours a day depending on the state of my clinics.  I interview and communicate with 70-140 patients a week either in person, by phone, or via email. I try to treat each patient as if they are my only patient.  I like what I do.  And yet, every three months or so, I am so cooked that I require a break.  I take a few days off during which my mind very infrequently wanders to anything remotely related to my work.  As a matter of fact, after a long day at work, I’m usually able to leave the job behind me until the next day.  I call it selective engagement.

I don’t think it should be any different with my writing.

There are times when I am in a writing roll.  Characters live with me.  Prod and poke me. Cry out to me.  And in listen and I chronicle their stories. I give in to their need of me. I submit.  Then, there are times when though I may wish to, I simply can not muster the energy for them.  I close the door on them.  I play games.  I read more or less.  I watch old episodes of Star Trek.  I meditate and pray more fervently.  I turn inward.  During that time I may not write a single creative word.  Why should in feel guilty about that?  Why should I feel the need to turn in my “writer’s membership” card?

I don’t think I should.

At the end of then day I think that only I can decide if I am a writer, and only I can define that for myself.

So… What is the definition of a writer?  A person who writes.

How much does an writer have to write to be considered a writer?  As much as they can.

Am I a writer?  Absolutely, yes.

Are you?

  • Yes you are. I say so, so it’s true! And considering the dedication you show your work, on top of having a family, I am amazed you can get anything done at the end of the day at all! 

  • To write well, most of us have to also spend time living. Where else do we get our ideas, but in the real world and in the created worlds of others? Besides, we are more than just writers. Learning not to feel guilty about needing to indulge my other passions has been a tough lesson for me.