1. Foxe
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    Foxe Active Member

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    "I'm a writer" vs "I write"

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Foxe, May 23, 2016.

    When did you, or when will you take the leap of saying you're a writer instead of "I write", and if you haven't, what conditions do you have to meet before you call yourself a writer?

    I've had many successes in writing like having articles published, putting on a play, and being a copywriter by profession... however I'm not a published novelist (haven't written one yet), nor have attempted to have my poetry published and for that reason, I am apprehensive to call myself or to be introduced as a writer.

    What are your thoughts on the title 'writer'?
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I think if you do copywriting, plays, articles, then you're definitely a writer.
    If you publish lots of novels, you're an author.
    If you never sold anything, then you just "write".
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    While I currently say, "I'm writing a novel" I don't think I have to sell it to call myself a writer. I suppose I do need to finish it. :p

    People tend to say, "I'm [fill in the occupation you support yourself with]." But I'm getting close to retiring and I am becoming a writer as my second career. I don't see there is a magical rule defining when I cross the line from being a nurse practitioner to being a retired NP, now a writer. For me it's a gut feeling and I'm almost there.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    If you write, you're a writer. Maybe not a professional one yet, but a writer.
     
  5. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I don't call myself a writer because I don't get paid to write ... yet. At least that's what I tell myself. I think the real reason is that I'm horribly insecure about writing. But hey, I take lots of photos but I don't call myself a photographer, so the logic is solid in my mind. :rolleyes:
     
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  6. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Who gives a fuck about being called a writer anyway? Seriously? It's like going around telling people you're a breather because you breath. Besides, labels I put on myself are worthless. It's an identifier for others to understand your primary occupation. When everyone else calls me a writer then maybe I'll use the label when they ask what I 'do'. But it doesn't mean anything.
     
  7. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Woo hoo, that means I'm also a runner, a breather, a photographer, an astronomer, painter, designer, interior designer, cleaner, accountant, explorer, climber (stairs, mainly), mathematician, chemist, chef.... you get the point.

    Most people cook. Very few are chefs. A lot of people write. Very few are writers.
     
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  8. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    I have a good post on this in another thread.. mostly talks about plumbing though.

    There's also a part about a goat. Don't read that part.
     
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  9. No-Name Slob
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    Oh, @Selbbin. You and you your devil-may-care free spirit ... don't you realize that there are rules about these things? ;)
     
  10. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I need coffee.

    Edit: In all seriousness I see the act of calling oneself a writer, especially socially, as incredibly self-indulgent and egotistical. I can't blame people wanting to get a high from the reaction that often follows. There's still, for some reason, a sense of awe towards someone claiming to be a writer, as if they're special or intelligent or somehow super creative and expressive, despite any idiot having the ability to claim they're a writer at whim.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2016
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  11. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Which brings us full circle to the predicament of everyone who has purchased a nice camera suddenly claiming to be a "photographer," and even charging people to take really shitty photos of them. To me, it's the same with writing. I practice the art of writing, but I'm not a professional writer so I don't identify myself that way to other people. And when I say "professional" that's in the literal sense of the word. Simply being published won't make me a "writer," either, unless those publications are paying for the material.

    And hell, I've met people who absolutely count as "writers" by my own definition, and I still wouldn't dole that title out to them, based on the sheer bullshit they're paid to write.
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't agree. It's a distinction that has no meaning. It also leads to results that don't make sense - for instance the writer who is unpublished during his life and then has a popular novel published posthumously. That person wasn't a writer when he was working on that novel? Bollocks.

    It's mostly a way to try to stratify classes of people for reasons of ego.
     
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  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I think published author and writer are being conflated here. I know of no rule that says they must be.

    Not to mention being published is no guarantee of good writing. So must you be 'good' or just published?
     
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  14. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Exactly! The label is externally applied, not created by the individual. YOU can't just call yourself a writer simply because you write, because it's meaningless. Only other people can because the label is for their use anyway. I can call myself anything I like, but that doesn't mean you will. If someone cooks an amazing meal, I might call them a great chef, irregardless of their own self-appointed label, or lack of. But if it's their profession, that's different. There needs to be some accountability involved, including an appreciation of the skill required to master something. And I think only people who have mastered something should earn the label.
     
  15. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think it is a rule, but when it comes to my own identity and the standards to which I hold myself, the two are synonymous.

    But I agree with @Steerpike and @Selbbin on a whole, it's for a broader audience to determine.
     
  16. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I like that this is a writing forum, not a writer's forum.
     
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  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This is interesting. I prefer to define myself and that means more to me than how anyone else defines me. Are you saying other people define you, not you yourself?
     
  18. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Could just be the other domain name was taken. :p
     
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  19. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    It's okay to call yourself a writer if you spend a reasonable amount of your leisure or professional time engaged in the act of writing in the same way you might call yourself a fisherman, boxer, cyclist, or runner.

    I run a couple times a week and have done a marathon. I've been running for years. I'm not a great runner, not even a good one, but I am a runner. I run and spend time cultivating that ability. Similarly, I spend much of my leisure time writing and refining the craft. I have been paid (a very little) for writing in the past, am soon to be published in a minor compilation, and have finished a novel, but more than these things, I dedicate hours of my life to the pursuit of making something meaningful with words. If someone asks me what my hobbies are I might say something like, "I'm a fossil diver, a writer, and a runner."

    I think were people are turned off by the "I'm a writer" claim is when it is used as a tactless device to garner attention, likely at a party where one or more tophats might be involved.

    But honestly, if you write for fun or money and you are trying to communicate that fact to somebody, "I'm a writer," is a very efficient and accurate way to do so.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2016
  20. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    This sounds like a rule that has just been invented on the spot. Why do you care so much if someone else calls themselves a writer? If they write, then the descriptor is accurate. If they make a living doing it, other descriptors can be employed.
     
  21. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yep. Also, these days anyone can publish a book. Seems odd to call someone who published their own book on Amazon a writer, while a similarly situated individual pursuing the traditional route would not yet be one. Making the distinction leads to all kinds of inconsistencies and no real standard that can be applied.
     
  22. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    It's not a rule. It's an opinion. My opinion, which the thread asked for. Agree or not that's what it is and that's what this is about. Opinions. None of these are rules and none of them can be. I disagree with the idea that the act of doing is enough to inherent the label. It loses all value. If you don't have to earn the label with skill or mastery the label is literally useless, because everyone has it, except illiterate people. Because everyone writes. Every single day. Which makes everyone a writer. Even my dumbass boss that doesn't seem to know what a period is.

    Many people just use the label for self gratification. I find that hard to respect or take seriously. But really, in the end it's meaningless, so who gives a fuck.
     
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  23. No-Name Slob
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    I think that I'm confused by your points in this thread. Originally you said that anyone is a writer if they write, which implies that there isn't a standard, and then you went on to say that it's a distinction that has no meaning which kind of supports @Selbbin's original point (to sum up, who gives a fuck). But here you say that if people self-publish on Amazon and call themselves "writers," then that distinction lacks standard?

    I feel this is going in circles, and I know that's not your intention so I must be misunderstanding your point. Do you mind clarifying your bottom line, here? Because from an outside perspective, it seems like you and @Selbbin are essentially arguing the same point.
     
  24. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Or simply, I like to write.
     
  25. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Selbbin's position requires some sort of standard that distinguishes amongst whatever writers he thinks have enough merit for the title, and the ones who are aspiring but don't have that merit yet. But there is really no good standard there, and his approach leads to inconsistencies and outcomes that don't make sense.

    And to clarify, I'm talking about classes of people who would hold themselves out as writers, aspiring writers, self-published writers, or what have you. If you engage in writing along those lines, then you're a writer. That's what I mean by if you write you're a writer. I'm not talking about a mechanic who writes a job order on a invoice. I'm talking about people who are pursuing writing in some respect, and whether it makes sense to say one group is entitled to use the word writer and the other is not.
     

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