Why I’m an Author…Not Simply a Writer

Posted: January 19, 2012 in Fiction, Publishing, Writing

Defining an Author

Dictionary.com defines a writer as a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist. That’s a very simple and vague definition of what a writer is, but it does sum it up. I’d like to take that a step further, though. Writing is a lot more involved than just putting words together to form a sentence. What I do like about this particular definition is the word “engaged.” That word defines a vital part of the writing life. One who is engaged in something is dedicated and focused on that particular task. Going back to the simple definition of a writer, anyone who writes something is technically a writer, right? Wrong. This is why as a writer of fiction I like to instead define myself as an author…not simply a writer.

Let’s look at how Dictionary.com defines an author: a person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc.; the composer of literary work, as distinguished from a compiler, translator, editor, or copyist.

Mirriam-Webster defines an author as one that originates or creates; the writer of a literary work.

Now that sounds more like it.

The Author’s Writing Canvas

Writing fiction is a form of art. It involves using your imagination and telling a story that is original and hopefully keeps your reader turning the pages. This is a challenging process because when you are writing fiction you have to remember that while you may think you have written a great scene, you may lose your reader’s attention if that scene isn’t painted well on your writing canvas. You have to figure out how to capture your audience when telling your story, and more importantly, show the reader the details of your written scene. If the reader can’t visualize what you have written then it may be time to pull out the red editor’s pen.

When assembling your story your work of art includes everything from setting, characters, dialogue, pace, sentence structure and the overall plot. That’s a lot to think about when building a story and it can be quite a challenging process, but that’s part of the fun, especially when your characters disagree with your outline and you have to rethink the whole damn story. Those voices in your head get to arguing about where the story should be heading, and as much as you want to be in control, sometimes you just have to concede and give your characters the reins.

I’m an Author Because I Love to Write

I’m preaching to myself when it comes to all of the details involved in trying to create a story that others will enjoy, and when I’m staring at my computer screen with the deer-in-the-headlights look as writer’s block rears its ugly face at me, I have to step away from my writing canvas and remind myself why I’m an author. When I get discouraged after literally putting years of hard work into a book that doesn’t sell, which I truly enjoyed writing (and enjoy reading), that’s when I have to remind myself that I’m an author because I love to write. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. If I write for the sole purpose of making a buck, then I need to stop writing.

Obviously, I hope people will spend a few bucks and dedicate some of their valuable time to read my work of art, my work of fiction, and enjoy it. However, if I don’t become the next Amazon best-selling author, or even get one five-star review, that’s okay. Why? It’s okay because I’m an author who simply loves to write.

The Author’s Thermometer

If you are struggling with your work of art and sometimes feel like kicking that writing canvas to the ground in frustration because your masterpiece isn’t selling, it’s time to take your temperature, because you may just be getting hot headed about nothing. Are you tempted to stop writing because you are entertaining the assumption that it’s not worth continuing to write because nobody is reading your work? That temperature gauge is getting too high now and you need to cool off. Just relax, take a deep breath and remind yourself of why you are an author. Why did you start writing to begin with? What is it that motivates you to continue writing? How do you measure your success as an author? Do you measure your success based on the amount of copies you sell or do you measure your success in the satisfaction of publishing a work of art? Your work of art!

Just Write!

Write because you love it. Write because you enjoy the creative process. Write because you are an author. Just write! Nothing more. Nothing less.

Sharky Teeth

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Comments
  1. “Write because you love it. Write because you enjoy the creative process. Write because you are an author. Just write! Nothing more. Nothing less.”

    You couldn’t have said it better. Those couple of sentences really are inspiring and I needed to hear (read) them today.

    Great article!

    Like

  2. I’ve always loved to tell a story. Whether for a pen & paper RPG, around a campfire or when I put my children to bed, I have always had a yarn to spin. Last year I ventured into the world of writing and I haven’t looked back. While I ‘hope’ people buy my work, whether from the virtual shelves or soon to be paperback, my only concern is what I’m doing before that happens. I love to tell a good story & one day I hope someone will think of me as ‘Author’ instead of ‘Storyteller’… Regardless of what happens, I’m fulfilling my passion with what I’m doing now and I don’t foresee ever stopping. Great article!

    Like

    • Thank you for taking the time to read this article and for posting a comment. As budding authors, there is so much that spins around in our heads as we begin to sail into the rough waters of publishing. I think it’s great that you have decided to push forward and are passionate about your writing. That is what is important. Of course, if readers purchase our novels, then that is a very welcomed added bonus, particularly when they share with others that they enjoyed the story. When I read a new review it gives me even more motivation to continue my work of art. Take care and I wish you the very best in your writing endeavors.

      Cheers!

      Rob

      Like

  3. Sara Burr says:

    “When I get discouraged after literally putting years of hard work into a book that doesn’t sell, which I truly enjoyed writing (and enjoy reading), that’s when I have to remind myself that I’m an author because I love to write. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. If I write for the sole purpose of making a buck, then I need to stop writing.”

    That is exactly what I tell myself and regularly preach on my own blog. I hate the notion that an author is only someone who has been published by one of the big publishing companies. No, an author is anyone who creates a body of work that they believe in.

    Wonderful post, Rob!

    Like

    • Thank you so much, Sara! It’s all about the joy of the creative process and sharing your work with others. If the book sells, great! That’s a bonus! If not, that’s okay, too. As long as you are enjoying the process of story telling, that’s all that matters.

      Thanks for stopping by and I apologize for not seeing this post earlier. My email was down for a couple of days and never got the notification. 🙂

      P.S. Congratulations on publishing Enigma Black I really enjoyed beta reading it! Cheers!

      Like

  4. Well, the heading of my blog reads ‘From the Author of Reprobate and Peccadillo’, but when people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m a writer… The thing is, ‘selling’ my work never made much of a difference to me – not that I don’t want to be paid, but the most important part of writing to me is to share my stories with my readers.

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    • I completely agree. The moment we start focusing on dollars when we write our stories we begin to tread down the wrong path. It’s always nice to see the sales show up on the reports, though. There’s no doubt about that. I just want to make sure that when I’m writing it doesn’t feel like work.

      Thanks for visiting, Martyn, and I wish you the best with your own writing projects.

      Cheers!

      Rob

      Like

  5. Caroline says:

    So true. Anyone can write, but it takes passion to be an author. And it should be that passion, and joy that drives your authorship, not the want to become rich and famous.
    Brilliant post.

    Like

    • Thanks for stopping by, Caroline! I’ve seen an author publicly vent (even using an F-bomb) about slow sales and then decide to quit. That’s so unfortunate, because true authors will continue to write even if nobody buys their books. I can understand how frustrating it can be if the author is writing for a living, but dwelling on sales (or lack thereof) will only become an unnecessary distraction and hinder the author’s ability to focus on what is important… writing the story.

      Like

  6. Great post, Rob! Thanks for sharing and best wishes to you…always, MG

    Like

  7. Love the perspective. Thanks!

    Like

  8. The Maze says:

    This just woke me up!

    Like

  9. NC Pendergast says:

    Excellent post! I’m having the same writer vs. author debate with myself, although mostly because I’m unpublished. It’s tempting to call myself an author even though I have no book out there yet to show as proof (and the stack of drafts from the last two decades is not for public eyes 😉 ), because it sure sounds more exciting than “writer”.

    Like

    • Thanks, NC! I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Whether you label yourself a writer, author, novelist (I like that one too), or scribbler, the most important thing is that you are continuously writing and not giving up on your publishing goals. Keep on writing and I wish you the best on publishing your first book! Cheers!

      Like

      • NC Pendergast says:

        Novelist sounds intriguing as well. Hmm.
        Thanks for the reassurance! I’m not intending to give up any time soon, heh. 🙂

        Like

  10. daezarkian says:

    GREAT post! I just blogged about something similar. We get caught up in trying to sell, trying to be this, trying to be that, and it’s really easy to lose track of what’s important, or maybe just why we started writing in the first place.

    Like

    • Thanks for the compliment, Steven! Every time I look at my sales rank (and actual sales for that matter) I have to remind myself why I decided to start writing novels. The simple fact is that I enjoy every moment and every aspect of the writing process. Of course as authors we are interested in selling our books in hopes that many people will buy, read and enjoy our creations; but even if we don’t hit those best seller lists, as long as WE love the story, that is what matters the most. The moment I start focusing solely on royalties is the moment I need to stop writing.

      Like

  11. Hello Robert, this is the first post of yours that I have read and I’m very excited to say that I enjoyed it. I found it on Twitter and it’s a very good post, it makes me realize that you’re right and writing is something that is for YOUR enjoyment, you have to love what you do while doing it. It’s nice to be reminded of that sometimes.

    Like

    • Thank you very much, Kyle! I’m happy to hear that my post was both enjoyable and insightful. It’s something I have to remind myself of when book sales are stagnant. We just need to keep writing. I appreciate your comments, Kyle, and thank you for dropping by!

      Like

  12. Hi Rob!

    This is a great post & a fabulous reminder of what’s important, at least to me. Like you said, “I’m an author because I love to write. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less.” Then it doesn’t matter to me what the numbers are; the only thing that matters is that I’m writing. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Shelli

    Like

    • Hi Shelli!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post and were able to relate to it. As writers we often think too much about the details (at least I do) and sometimes we just have to let go, take a deep breath, and simply do what we love to do no matter what the outcome. Thanks for visiting!

      Cheers!

      Rob

      Like

  13. I’m not going to lie, I needed this today. I have had a rough week, not nearly as productive as I planned. I am in the planning stages, and just want to quit. Still, the reason I want to give up is because I desperately want to just write it (again–I am reworking an earlier story from a romance to YA with the same characters, several years younger, and a totally different story). I love the characters, I love the new story, but I hate the organization and research stage (even though I do find it makes the writing easier).
    This refocused me on why I write–because I love it. Sometimes that comes with parts that are not as pleasant. Still, if I push through for just a few more days, I can get to the fun part! 🙂

    Like

    • It’s great to discover that my post has been inspiring, Susi, and that I was able to help you put things back into perspective. You’re right about having to push through the unpleasant parts of the writing process. I too procrastinate when it comes to the organization and research stage of the process, which is why current WIP has a lot of holes in it. I made a commitment with #WIP500 and so far the story itself is moving along at a fairly steady pace. I can always go back and fill in the holes later.

      With my current WIP, I’m not using an outline, and that’s unusual for me because I usually like to have the story planned out before I start writing it. It’s probably going to require a lot of editing, research and using a cutting board when the first draft is complete, but it’s been fun letting the characters take the reins and “tell me” what is going to happen next.

      Keep at it, Susi, and don’t give up. Just have fun doing what you love to do. Just write!

      Like

  14. danniehill says:

    I guess we who write have this self-debate more than I thought. But the meat of your post is the love and need of writing. I’ve always felt that if you want to make money then write non-fiction How To books and there is nothing wrong with that. I’ve learned much from a few of them.

    If you write because of a need, desire or just to breath deep then write with your heart and then your head.

    I’ve alway thought of an author of novels as someone who cannot stand alone. They require help to produce something that fills readers with love or fear or need or tears. An author needs an editor and help from readers or other authors.

    But I’m sure you know that the first draft is a creation that only you can produce… Oh, what a feeling!

    Great post as usual, Rob!

    Like

    • That’s what keeps me going, Dannie. When I write, my first goal is to create something that I enjoy reading. If others enjoy reading it, too, then that’s a bonus and naturally puts a smile on my face.

      I like your philosophy about writing for profit, and it makes perfect sense. I also agree with your own insight of an author as someone who cannot stand alone. That is so true. Having a community of other authors to share your passion for writing is so important and makes the creative process that much more enjoyable.

      Dannie, it’s always a pleasure seeing you visit my humble establishment in cyberspace.

      Take care, my friend!

      Like

  15. I was having the writer vs. author debate with myself all last week. I like your take on this debate and I think you’ve solved my internal dilemma – like you I am an author because I love to write. 🙂

    Like

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