Several months ago I started attending meetings of the local writing group at a nearby Barnes and Nobles store. Two of the members were guys I knew previously from organizing Nanowrimo write ins this past November. I was nervous, but excited, to be reading for others and commenting on their work as well. As I kept returning, month after month, I started to realize something about some of my fellow group members. There were definitely some who were serious about being writers and becoming authors and there were others who just liked to write and perhaps tried to tell others that they are “writers”.
Are you wondering what’s the difference? I will tell you.
A person who likes writing is someone who will start writing a book and never finish it. It’s someone who complains that their edits are never ending but only because they don’t really work on them. It’s someone who starts multiple books and brags about it, but has never finished one to the point where it could be sent out to agents or self published. They are the ones who tell everyone they are writers, but when asked when others can read/buy it, they constantly make excuses. They are the ones who will continue to make edits and polish the piece , rewriting scene after scene, trying to achieve perfection. Now there’s nothing wrong with editing and polish, but at some point you need to say this is as good as it gets and send it out there to sink or swim.
A writer is the person who moves ahead with their work. Someone who writes on a regular basis and strives to improve. They are the ones who take chances and put their work out there for rejection or acceptance. They take criticism and suggestion but know that ultimately, it’s their work and they don’t need to follow that advice if they don’t think it will benefit their novel. They are avid readers and are following trends in their genres, getting to know other authors who write what they do and are looking for ways to promote themselves. They work towards deadlines (whether it be self given or by an agent/publisher) and they encourage others by sending out ARCs and samples of their upcoming work (hard to back out of publishing when people already have copies and are writing reviews). They’re not afraid to step outside of the box either in their stories or in the promotion of their writing. They look forward to finally finishing a product so they can start on something new.
So can a person who likes to write actually become a writer? Sure they can. I don’t think it’s a difficult transition to make, but they have to really want to. They have to be willing to take the risks and put themselves out there to possibly get hurt. Taking criticism is no easy task and I’m sure even the seasoned professionals get hurt when someone says something bad about their books, but it’s part of being a writer and if you can;t handle that, then best you stick to just liking to write as a hobby.