The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes a writer as someone who writes. Whether that be stories, articles, blogs, novels, poetry, or the like, if you write then you are a writer. In order to continue to call yourself a writer, however, you will have to keep on writing. If you use to write but haven’t in a really long while, then you use to be a writer. If you have never actually written down any part of that next bestseller that has been bouncing around in your head then sorry, you are not a writer. In order to be a writer, you have to actually write. That’s in the presence tense. “Use to” doesn’t make you a writer any more. “Going to” doesn’t make you one either.
Now you will notice that the definition did not say that in order to be a writer you had to actually do it full-time or get paid for it or for it to be your actual job description or contribute to your income in any way. Which brings me to another one of my pet peeves: writers who seem to think that because we have not yet gotten a book deal, do not write full-time, or do not hold some type of “writing” job as our career that we are not really writers. Sorry, that is just wrong. And it’s also disturbing. Someone who considers themselves a writer and is actually getting paid for it but does not know the definition of the word “writer” is an insult to writers everywhere. Saying that someone isn’t a writer simply because he/she doesn’t get paid to write is like saying a woman is not female because she has not yet had children.
I had often thought that the majority of writers who thought this way were those who only wrote articles and other nonfiction. My reasoning behind this is that a lot of writers who defend so whole-heartedly that writers who are not getting paid are not really writers come off sounding like jealous children who are angry that they do not possess the creativity to write something fictitious and must therefore stay in the nonfiction genre. Recently I have come across a slew of mercenary writers who write fantasy fiction who seem to also have the warped perception that non-paid writers are not really writers. So my observations lead me to think that, yes, they are all jealous of the creativity that others possess and are striking out at other writers for being better at the writing process than they are. What I have discovered is that it is not just nonfiction writers who seem so jealous, but other fiction writers as well.
Which brings me to my next point. Why do writers get jealous of each other at all? What I have come to understand is that it is not just writers who get jealous of others in their field. Jealousy is just a natural human emotion. It is only natural for humans to be envious of those whom they deem to be better at something than they are. What I would like to see is more understanding and support of each other. Writing is a very lonely and solitary activity. No one understands a writer and their obstacles better than another writer. We should be congratulating each other on our successes and encouraging each other to never give up, no matter what our ultimate dream or desire may be in our writing endeavors. Instead, some writers will be little each other, call each other names, and try to convince each other that they either have no talent or that they are not really writers because it is not their evil day job.
It makes me wonder if the reason why writers don’t want to confess to their profession is not because they are afraid of what others may think, but because they are afraid that the person they are talking to is a writer too. Why would you want to confess to being a writer if the person you are talking to is also a writer and insists upon telling you all the reasons why you are not really a writer and all the reasons why they are really a writer. We get enough people from the outside world staring down their noses at us. We don’t need to snub each other as well.
When I tell someone I am a writer, there is an instantaneous loss of privacy. I realize I am removing my walls by writing a novel via blog, but I am trying to overcome this issue. I find it endlessly annoying when people ask me who my favorite author is, or what I’m writing about, then proceed to judge me. I may just be odd, though.
I don’t find it odd at all. Everyone has their own reasons for telling, or not telling, people that they are readers (I wrote an article about why I don’t tell people: “Why People Don’t Know that I am an Author”). Most of us do not like being judged because of the genre we choose to write in or because we are writers at all. Interesting take on lack of privacy once people know you write. I’ll have to cover that on an article as well.
Best of luck!