What “makes” a writer?

As I make final preparations for the ACFW Conference, thoughts of writing fill my every waking hour…and some of my sleeping ones, too. The conference will be chock full of writers and wannabe writers all vying for the time and attentions of editors and agents. With so many writers there, what exactly makes a writer?

I started writing way back in the sixth grade. Of course, I didn’t really know what I was doing, and my writing was little more than copying other cool stories I’d read but substituting characters I’d created—often also carbon copied. It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that I really got serious about it. I was inspired by a very good creative writing teacher, Mrs. Keeton (or Mrs. Manton, or one other name I’ve forgotten). She was incredibly encouraging of my writing and really is the point in my life that I can point to as me “becoming” a writer.

When I got into college, I met a guy who said he was a writer also. I was excited! Someone who knew my interest and could actually understand it. Nah, I won’t use his name here, but the guy was a very gifted wordsmith. But, I later learned, he wasn’t a writer. Yes, he liked to call himself a writer, but he wasn’t one.

The difference between the two of us was incredible—and I was often slightly envious. The guy could sit down and type out a very nice first draft of a story. It would take me three drafts to get what he could get in three: remember, I called him a wordsmith. The problem was, he never wrote. Yes, he did produce a few stories, mostly pretty good stories. But, I could turn out 4-6 times the material because I actually wrote. Not because I was a better writer, but because I spent my time writing while he spent his time talking about writing.

Over time, my envy went away and I realized that, much like athletes who have to compete against one another—some more gifted than others who have to work harder—it was much the same for me. I could produce, nay, OUTproduce this guy and I could write better stories…in the end. Again, not because I was better—I’ve already said I thought he was naturally a better writer. His first drafts were better than mine…but they were also fewer. My stories always had third/fourth/fifth drafts.

I don’t say this to try to fly my flag at all. If you’re here, you’ve undoubtedly read some of my creative stuff somewhere. I am what I am. Instead I say that to reinforce something I’ve said for years: writers write. It’s an active thing. Someone who is a writer finds themselves drawn to putting words on paper/screen/keyboard…they find themselves creating worlds and people to fill those worlds.

But they DO it!

Again: Writers write!

It’s been a long while since I’ve been this excited about going to a conference/convention. I will also admit some nervousness because it is completely different from anything I’ve ever been to—and I’m one of the “rookies” there. An odd feeling. I’ll be pitching my completed novel Buying Time, my young adult series The Gifted, and my novel-in-progress, Cat & Mouse.

And yes, I’ll tell you all about it.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “What “makes” a writer?

  1. Thanks. I need this today. We can always find people who are more talented than we are. We have no control with the amount of talent God gave us. But we can control what we do with it, how we exercise it etc.

  2. If writing makes you a writer, then I must be one. Thoughts and ideas, plot twists and the like come to me at strange times. Last Sunday at church a whole scene flashed through my head. Had to scribble it onto my bullitin so I wouldn’t forget.

  3. Roland,

    Thank you for the kick in the pants. I just finished a first draft last night and relaized that JUST GETTING SOMETHING DOWN means a lot. After that, we edit – even if its heavy editing, it goes quickly.

    Talent without perserverance really is wishful thinking.

    peace
    justice

  4. And here I was going to thank you for the kick in the pants too, but that’s already been taken.

    I’ll settle for “Thanks for a kick in the anatomical part 180 degrees away from the pants.”

    That was some motivation I needed to make whatever time possible to write, even if it’s not ideal, so I can keep on moving forward.

    Thanks dude. You never stop inspiring me!!

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