Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Are you a writer?

The Prairie Chicks Write Romance blog is one of the first I came across when I was unsure if I was an actual writer. How does a person know if they are a writer or not? I can recall Googling "How do you know if you are a writer?"

I wanted to know. I needed to know. I was looking for someone else to tell me. In many ways, this blog gave me the answer I needed - And now they are letting me add my two bits.

If you have been writing and are curious to know if you are a writer or not, I am here to tell you this:

You Are A Writer.

You are a writer.


Now you know. Writing is a verb, after all. If you write, you are a writer.

Can you write something that every Reader will adore?


Should that bother you?

You tell me.

I'm don't say this because I am trying to be that person who feels everyone needs a dose of reality. I say this because I hope you find it freeing.

Write what you like to write. Write what you like to read. You don't need to write something everyone will like. Don't worry about whether or not someone else will consider it writing. It is.

A somewhat related tangent:

There is a new trend where people are announcing 10,000 hours of practice are required before expertise at a skill can be claimed (Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers - I haven't read the book yet, but need to. I love the concept). Despite this, some largely published authors say they still don't know how to write a book - They only know how to write the book they are working on at the moment.

I don't doubt these authors are more interested in putting in 10 or 20,000 more hours of practice than in saying they have mastered the technique and are ready to move on to other things.

I believe 10,000 hours of practice makes sense - Most of us have been writing since we learned how to read. School reports on topics such as dinosaurs and alternative fuel sources all contribute to the log book.

So, yes. You are a writer.

I have a few questions for you (feel free to answer all or none or any other combination):
  1. When did you first realize you were a writer?
  2. How many hours of writing practice do you think you had contributed at that point?
  3. Which is more important - the number of hours or the quality of the practice?
  4. What defines quality writing practice?
Fun fact - Based on a quick count, variants of the word write appear 24 times in the body of this post. Subliminal message: Go do some writing.)

(I apologize if I am slow in replying to any comments. I am out of town and pretty sure I will not be able to access blogger until some time around the 10th.)


Mrs. Posey said...

The question never dawned on me until I got online and saw this topic over and over again. That's when I thought, huh, Ive been doing this for five years now, I guess I am one! ;)

Heather said...

For me, any time where I consciously consider the words that I am putting down count as 'writing practice'. When I review my blog posts from when I started till now, they are so much improved. My choice of vocabulary, sentence structure and the general feeling of the piece are all better.

That makes me feel good. So, yes, I am a writer.

Anne Germaine said...

Hi Stephanie - Welcome to Wednesdays! I'm so glad to have you onboard!

I used to consider myself a wanna-be writer (and on bad days I still do). Enough of that - I am a writer. I AM a writer! I AM A WRITER!

Karyn Good said...

Welcome aboard, Stephanie. We're happy to have you join our Wednesday mini group.

I am a writer. However, somedays are better and more productive than others. I think the best 'writing practice' is what you need at that point in time, be it structured, as in a targeted writing exercise, or writing free form. It's all leading you somewhere.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Steph, welcome to Prairie Chicks. I like your debut post. :)

I wrote my first poem when I was six and started writing stories in scribblers soon after. Then, when I was 13, I saw my first The Waltons episode on TV while on a babysitting job.

John Boy Walton intrigued me. It was the first time I really thought about my writing. Before, I'd written just because that's what I did.

Practice? Everything you write is either great, bad or mediocre. Pick one and work with it.

I will re-work my wips until I run out of time for their completion. ie deadline. So I guess for me, quality wins over time. But I don't call it practice. I'm tweaking. :)


Hayley E. Lavik said...

Welcome aboard, Stephanie!

I have a moment in my mind, I don't remember how old I was, but I was very young and down by the water with my mom. I'd been writing for a while and I remember thinking how ideal a writing career would be for a parent, to be able to get the job done anywhere and still take kids to the beach. I was maybe in grade 1 or 2, I'd guess. I'd say that's where it started :p

And of course now I'm grown and have absolutely no desire for children :D

As for hours then, we'd been doing daily writing in class, and I wrote animal fables every day (rip-offs/in the spirit of Rudyard Kipling, hah), so... hard to say. A school year's worth of twenty minute sessions?

And I'd say the quality of the practice is best, as it contributes to improvement in quality of the writing, rather than just logging hours (like throwing down word counts) that don't mean anything. I'd include that to be anything that helps in understanding, improvement, exploration, etc. I don't do random freewrites for practice because I wouldn't care about what I was writing, and I doubt much would come of it.

And of course I suppose all that raises the question, do we distinguish between writing hours, editing hours, brainstorming hours, and reading hours? :)

Helena said...

Welcome, Stephanie! So glad you have joined the Chicks. And what a perfect topic for your first post.

I started loving the writing process before I was in high school. I didn't write many original stories, but I did things like adapt fairy tales for performance in our annual Christmas concert. And of course that's when I began reading everything I could get my hands on, including Gone with the Wind when I was ten.

In high school I loved revising my written assignments just for the thrill of making words work better. I also began writing short stories, and attended a week-long creative writing workshop. But there were no creative writing courses in high school or university back then, so my writing got lost in the shuffle of life.

For many years, I was a wannabe writer, but would never have identified myself as a writer. Until about ten years ago ... when I started making the transition from someone interested in writing to being a writer. It came gradually, but the 'aha' moment probably was when I joined SRW and had to start talking about work in progress.

You raise some interesting questions about practice. I agree with Hayley that all the associated activities contribute to the whole, and while writing exercises and free writing will sometimes serve to get the juices flowing, I think that it is the focus on the current work that counts the most. Of course, it all adds up, but I think the quality is more important than the quantity.

Janet said...

Welcome to The Prairies, Stephanie - so glad you've joined us :)


There, I said it. And I've been writing forever - mostly journal entries, but a few stories thrown in for fun and a couple of poems. It's only been the last 6 years that I've decided to take my writing to the next level - although if someone had told me how hard that was going to be...

As for hours - all writing contributes. I agree with Heather, the more you write (including blogposts, writing exercise, etc), the more you will improve. And I've discovered that it really helps to define who you are as a writer - yes, that elusive 'voice' issue that keeps coming up.

Great topic for your inaugural post :)

Jana Richards said...

Hi Stephanie,
Welcome, new Chick! Glad to have you aboard.

When did I know I was a writer? I came to writing a bit late in life. I've always been a reader, and at one time I thought about being a journalist (I still have an interest in journalism). And then I read a romance novel and thought "I could write one of those." Hah! I quickly discovered it's a lot harder than it looks.

I spent several years being rejected before I sold my first novel to an epublisher, so I guess that was my "practice". I couldn't even imagine how many hours I put in. But I didn't feel like a "real" writer until two things happened: 1) I had my first critique by fellow members of Sask. Romance Writers and they told me my WIP didn't totally suck :) and 2) when my editor told me I was a "real" writer because I took the extra time to go through my manuscript with a fine tooth comb to eliminate some overused words.

So yes, I am a writer.