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?”
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?
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.