Notable Notes: What does it mean to be a writer?

All, Notable, Writing

One of the most popular links on my Twitter feed lately has been a post by Melissa Donovan of Writing Forward. Her post, “Thoughts on Becoming a Writer,” explores the journey of becoming a writer and what it means to be a writer, but what really resonated with me was the simple statement: “stop becoming a writer and just be a writer.” I have always suggested that the BIC (butt-in-chair) method is the best approach for writing. It is not about the place or the mood or the writing implement – the focus has to be on the writing and just writing – a lot!

Elspeth Antonelli wrote a clever reminder of this important rule for the Blood-Red Pencil. In “Elspeth’s Writing Sheep,” she explores the best piece of advice for writers. In the famous words of Sheep#3: “Go away now. Write.” It is easier than ever to live a writing life and not spend time dedicated to writing. We are surrounded by distractions with even more distractions only a click away. Stop reading about writing. Stop talking about writing. Just write.

Jon Winokur of Advice To Writers shares great quotes about writing and interviews with famous writers and over and over again they note that the most important thing a writer does is write and the best thing a writer can do is write. Just today, Winokur tweeted a quote from his interview with Alexia Casale: “Take control of the thing you can do something about: how hard you work…” We cannot control so much about life and we certainly cannot control the publishing world or our readers, but we can control how much and how often we write.

This question of “What is a writer?” is one that I mull frequently as a writer and as a teacher of writers. It is a conversation that I have with my students as well because there is a lot of baggage associated with the word “Writer.” Simply thinking about whether you are a Writer or a writer is a very weighty question.

Writers love words. That may be where the first urge to write begins – with the discovery of powerful, wonderful, magical words. Think about all those wonderful words as you read Rebecca Mead’s article from The New Yorker about “Writers Choose Their Favorite Words.” So think about your favorite words and just write.

What is a writer? A writer is someone who writes – even if they never get paid and even if no one else ever reads a word they have written. Writers just write.

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