Am I a writer? An author?

Some of you will know from earlier Posts that, many years ago, I decided to get myself certified with the Coaching Association Of Canada as a running coach, and then volunteered as long distance coach with a local track club for almost 10 years.  Our specialty was road races 5km to Marathon, and so attracted a very broad age range.

Newcomers to the group would often trigger a conversation like this:

“I want to be a runner?”

“Okay … what background of running do you have”

” Oh I’ve been running regularly from home”

“Then I would suggest that you are already a runner”

“No but I want to be a real runner!”

“If you are already running, then you are already a real runner!”

“But I’m not good enough!”

A revelation!  It was interesting that to become “real” it was perceived that one had to be at some pre-determined level of ability!

I have known a number  of people over the years who are very competent with a musical instrument, but do not think of themselves as musicians.

I continually run into a similar rationale here with Blogging. I have read many Posts where the author wants to be a writer… but they already are! I have read about people with a book or two published who do not consider themselves authors.

Where do we get the idea from that there are standards which have to be achieved before one can call oneself a writer, author, runner, musician etc.? I have no professional expertise to provide an answer, but it does seem to me that self esteem is a factor.

I have one book published. From my perspective, I am therefore an author. I may not be a good author. I may not be a well known author, but I am still an author! If I had been in this situation many years ago, I would have probably kept very quiet about the “author thing”… but why? In my case, because there would be a possibility of negative responses, some perhaps veiled by humor. Some as a result of ignorance.  I would not have wanted to hear.

“One book doesn’t make you an author!”

“How many books have you sold then?” (snicker)

“Writing 1000 word blogs doesn’t make you a real writer/author”

When we are venturing into an area of expertise that is new to us, it is important to receive support and encouragement (ref. yesterday’s Post). It therefore becomes a “safety net” to minimize our ability and therefore minimize the chances of negativity. At my current age (an indisputable senior citizen), I really don’t care what other people think. My most important critic is myself, and if I am happy with my level of achievement, that is all that is important.

All of you “wannabe” writers are already there, based on what I am reading. Some of you are very easy to read, and some I have to stop and perhaps re-read in order to grasp where you are going. I have no qualifications as a literary critic so cannot legitimately critique your writings however, I can offer some personal observations based on my own experience.

One of the nicest comments I received when circulating my book draft for reviews, was that it was written honestly, and my personality came through in the writings very clearly.

Similarly, I have been following a particular blog for quite sometime now and the writings were always interesting however, a recent Post was just”bleeding” emotions and personality. I commented accordingly because it was such a wonderful change in style. I found out later that it had been written during a time when the writer was going through a very emotional period as a result of some bad news. That could have been the first time that the writer had not mechanically constructed a Post, but rather wrote from the heart. What a wonderfully honest piece of writing resulted!

My suggestion to all of you novice writers, based on my experiences and these examples, is to be yourself in your writings. Trying to mimic well known writers, or constructing around some predetermined format, provides minimal sense of personal achievement. Readers not only want to understand what you are writing, but (perhaps not consciously) also want to know who you are. Write honestly and your personality will show through.

So are you all writers? Really?

If I am following your Blogs then, from my perspective, you are all writers. Celebrate your obvious ability to put your thoughts “out there” for public scrutiny. You may not be particularly good writers and you may not be well known writers but you are still writers and, as with running or playing a musical instrument, just practice… practice… practice! Write… write… write! If there really is some mystical achievement standard out there, you will reach it one day! Food for thought.

40 thoughts on “Am I a writer? An author?

  1. This is one of the best posts I have read in months! So uplifting and honest. I have never felt like I had “anything” in the way of writing but reading your words puts more hope and confidence in me. It was almost as if you were speaking to me. I play Guitar and have been offered positions in some bands but I have always opted just to play for immediate family, because I don’t think I have “it” to be in a band. Thanks for a much needed boost this morning.

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    • You’re very welcome Chris.. and thanks for being my latest Follower. I try to make the Posts as varied and thought provoking as possible, although my canine friend Ray was the driving force behind starting it in 2014! 🙂


  2. Very well said! I consider myself a writer, though I only write a blog and occasionally publish an article in a couple of online publications. Some may mock and say I am not a ‘real’ writer, but what do they know? I do not, at this point, need validation from anybody else … I know I am a writer! Thanks for these thoughts!

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  3. There are people who don’t think you are successful unless you are paid. It doesn’t matter so much how much but that there is currency to establish your talent. I think if you have a product you like and others read, that’s all there is. As you know publishing requires skills other than writing!

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  4. Great post, Colin. I think, “to minimize our ability and therefore minimize the chances of negativity”is 100% correct! Having the air let out of your balloon is difficult, so oft times people won’t inflate their balloon.
    On the running note, I told myself,”I will be happy if I can get the the point of running one mile.” Well after completing the “Couch to 5k” program and running several 5k’s I still don’t consider myself a runner. I find myself thinking things like, “If I could run 5 miles, then I might consider myself a runner.” I bet if I got to running 5 miles I’d have a new standard…10k or half-marathon, qualifies as a runner.

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    • I think that with running, competency is a moving target. I was asked once “When does racing get easier?” My response was “It doesn’t. It just gets faster!” Part of our genetic make up seems to be competitive. For most people that I have known, their first running goal is to complete a 5km race. The future goals are to run it faster. My perspective is that if you run, then you are a runner. Whether you are a slow or fast runner; a competitive or non-competitive runner; an aggressive or a recreational runner, it really doesn’t matter. They are all runners so the debate is not whether you are a runner not, but rather how you relate to various competency levels!

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  5. A joke I read long ago:
    A writer dies and goes before Saint Peter.
    Peter decides to let this guy pick up or down.
    He first shows him hell, where the writers are chained to desks, typing frantically, while being whipped.
    Peter then shows him heaven, where the scene looks pretty much the same as hell.
    The writer asks Peter, “Uh, it looks pretty much the same.. What’s the difference? ”
    Peter says, “Yes, but up here, you’re published! ”

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  6. It is true! We often only think we are “something” when we fulfill a certain level. But who knows where this level actually starts? I agree, no matter how good we may be, we are all writers and when you published a book then you are an author… that’s it!

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  7. Great thoughts, very encouraging! I think we do look for “approval” on our writings by how many “Likes, Follows, Comments” we get. I did have one other blogger tell me write for myself! Great advice and I get what she means. I do, but the messages in my blog are very important to me, so I want them to get out there. I do feel like I have been getting better with practice. 🙂 Thanks for encouraging others!

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