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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

No Right or Wrong Way to be a Writer

I have been thinking about this matter for a while now, so I am quite surprised it has taken me this long to blog about it. It was only after reading one of Bob Mayer's latest posts last week: that I started to give it some serious thought again.

During the past year, I have seen some poor quality arguments and some brilliant ones around the subject of being traditionally published or deciding to go the indie route. Some writers with very strong opinions argue for whichever one they believe in, while dismissing every positive point on the opposing side. I've seen the argument go both ways with traditional published authors making a fool out of themselves along with some unprofessional indies.

Now, I have started to see the same sort of arguments between writers on their opinion of what makes you a 'real' writer. Some suggest that if you don't write two thousand words a day, you are just an amateur. Other like minded individuals suggest if you don't write everyday then you're not a real writer, and so the list goes on.

I've often assumed writers to be fairly open minded individuals. After all, they have to consider things from different angles when working out their plots - it is part of our job to view things from another point. Otherwise we're going to have terrible problems when we can't get our head round a certain storyline, and the only other option we have is to come at it from a different way. Now, after seeing all these petty arguments, my opinion of some writers is definitely changing. It baffles me to think that there are certain individuals out there who would rather die than be open to another opinion, even if they know their method of doing things isn't working. Why are these people so stuck in their ruts and so afraid of change? I like to think of myself as a very opened minded individual. Yes, I have my own way of doing things, for sure, who doesn't? But I am ALWAYS open to new ideas and suggestions when things don't work out. Trying new things and making the most of opportunities is what makes us grow as human beings, and we should never criticise others for doing things differently. We should always remember what works for us won' t always work for someone else.

In my opinion, you're a real writer if you write books (any kind of book,) get them professionally edited, have a professional cover made, stick them through a publisher (self published or otherwise) and charge money for them. It can take you ten years to do this or it can take six months. You can write ten thousand words a day or just a hundred - it doesn't matter. So long as you write books and be professional about it in every single way, you're a real writer. But that's just in my opinion, others will disagree. That's fine. What I don't do is go out of my way to make everyone who does disagree with me look like a fool because that's just not nice. If they really are a fool, other people will see that too and think the same. Foolish people don't need any help from others to look foolish, they do that job quite nicely on their own.

Sometimes, people have a knack of being nasty and unkind for no other reason other than to make themselves feel better or look good. Simon Smith Wilson blogged about the tragic death of Gary Speed, and how it's cruel some people feel the need to make spiteful comments about it:

And now for my final point: Just remember if you're a writer who slags off other writers, you may have just lost yourself potential readers.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Please share.


  1. Here here. I agree with you. I believe a writer is one who must write. I am one of those people. I have a full-time job. I write on the side. I've published independently, and have had limited success in the venture.

    I enjoy writing mystery stories, crime and suspense, paranormal fantasy. One story I published fell toward the erotic side, so I started writing more erotica. I've since began to turn my works around to something a little different. The point is that I cannot imagine not writing. In my opinion, that makes one a writer when they cannot NOT write.

    I also agree with you that when a writer becomes self-righteous and pompous, they may lose potential readers and friends in stating their personal opinions.

    Great post. I'm becoming a regular follower of your blog because you post great tips and cool stuff.

  2. Thanks very much for your comment, Ellison. It's great to know you think that way too, and I'm glad you enjoy my blog. All the very best to you and have a wonderful week.

  3. What a great blog! This debate has always confused me. I think you see it more these days for some reason. I was published for several years and in magazines before that. It was a fantastic achievement, but I realised I didn't need someone else to confirm that I was a writer. In fact I left my publisher because they wanted me to write a certain "type" of book, which really wasn't for me. I like focusing on themes and subject matters close to my heart, as there are people in the world with the same thoughts or feelings. I think these days many authors are slightly negative to one another, which you didn't see a great deal of before. Maybe this is due to the high rate of success stories by indie authors that are selling thousands of books. People want to attain this level and sometimes the best way to look good is putting others down. My personal approach is building other people up. I think it is nice to be nice. This is a great blog!

  4. Good post today on an interesting topic. I've seen the debate as well, and I think it's pretty silly. Merriam-Webster, which should rank as a seminal resource for those in our field, says simply that a writer is one who writes. Period. No time requirement, nor a word count requirement, nor a publishing requirement, muddy that definition. If people must qualify it, then qualify it--"traditionally published author," for instance, or "serious writer" perhaps. But I've seen debates rage over at's forums on the matter. If you're a traditionalist, frankly, the rise of the Indie world probably scares you, and in that event I think the segmentation and differentiation in peoples' minds is natural.

    Anyway, that's my two cents.

  5. Thanks for your blog. I get a little wrapped around the axle by the term "real writer." My perspective is if you string words together in a meaningful order, then you are a writer. Period. Not real or imagined. Not serious or amateur. Just a writer. If you make your work available via traditional or indie platforms then you are a published writer. If you make a living as a published writer, then you are an author. Financial success or the vehicle that you use to publish your work is unimportant. Any creative work whether it be a novel, painting, symphony, poem, dance, is judged by the individual. If you touch just one person in a meaningful way then your efforts have been successful. If what you write is solely for the love of the craft—the journey more than the destination—and you are pleased with what you have written, you successful. Even if you don't share it with anyone. There is my two cents for what it's worth...

  6. I just read Simon's blog post about the unfortunate death of Gary Speed and it was very well done. I agree with him and I also agree with you--there is no one or "correct" way to be a writer. What works for me might not work for you and that's what makes our craft so intriguing and so meaningful. And, personally, I think a writer is a writer is a writer and I could care less about the additional qualifiers some people add on. Love your blog and I'll be back!

  7. Thank you for your comments, it seems that this is a very important issue to us all.

  8. I think the problem stems from people who equate the terms "real" and "successful." We'd all like to be successful and make a living from writing, but just because you don't doesn't make you any less of a writer. If you write something and share it with others - by whatever means - then you're a writer in my opinion.

  9. That's an extremely good point. The problems start though when the 'successful' writers belittle everyone else.

  10. I think everyone of us have a bit of writer/artist in us. Poemcrazy by Susan G. Wooldridge really opens up this idea to me. In her book, she illustrates the different poems written by kids as young as eight. I am amazed by the choice of words and the imagery they conjure. Anybody who has a passion to write, even if they are not earning from it (that's me) is consider a writer. Don't tell me otherwise, I couldn't accept the "reality". haa.

  11. Hi Hui Ying,

    Thanks very much for commenting! Wishing you well for 2012.