What is a “Real Writer”?

Books, Camp NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo

Earlier today, I received an email from GoodReads telling me that an author that I follow had added a new blog post. Sounds boring, you might be thinking and to be honest I very rarely ever read them, so what influenced my decision to read this one, I’m not entirely sure. But the point is, that I did and boy am I glad that I did.

Basically, author Catherine Ryan Howard was having a little rant about snobbery, generally from published authors, towards people who participate in NaNoWriMo. The idea being that anyone who does it, isn’t a “real writer” and that they are tarnishing the name of “real writers” blahblahblah. You get the picture.

But, it raised the question: What is a “real writer”? Some people seem to come to the following conclusions:

  • A published writer is a real writer
  • However, a self-published writer is not
  • Someone who has been writing since birth is a real writer
  • Someone who started writing last week is not
  • A person who spends a large amount of time working on a novel, is a real writer
  • A person who can write a novel quickly, is not

To be perfectly honest, I think that this is a load of old rubbish. As far as I see it, as long as you perform the act of sitting down with pen and paper, a laptop, a typewriter, chalk and the pavement or whatever and wherever, and actually piece things together then you are a “real writer”.

Of course, a person might not be a very good writer but surely that is personal opinion and who is to say what is good anyway?

It sounds absolutely ridiculous that we are even having this kind of debate. The world of literature is so broad, that surely there is room for everyone? Does it matter how a book was put together? Is the point not about content? Plus, just because a first draft of 50,000 words happened to have been written in the space of 30 days does not mean that that is the end of the process. I don’t think that anyone is going to try and publish what they write during NaNoWriMo, because I don’t know about anyone else, but what I write during those days is generally a load of rubbish. But that isn’t the point. The point is that I have 50,000 words to edit, mix around and re-write so that they work out into something much better.

It’s almost as if these “real writers” think that we’re trying to publish our 50,000 words of crap, when we’re actually not. A lot of time – post NaNoWriMo – is going to be put into working on second, third etc drafts.

We are all Real Writers. We all have the same dreams.



7 thoughts on “What is a “Real Writer”?

  1. I considered myself a writer when I started writing almost every day. That was it, really. I’m (self) published and have sold a few, which is grand, but I was a writer before that as far as I’m concerned πŸ™‚

      1. It’s a weird feeling. I kind of didn’t think I could do it, but then I realised all you have to do is sit your butt down and do it every day – and after enough days you’ll finish it. It’s not that useful as advice, but it is true πŸ™‚

  2. Agree 100%, never really thought about it though. The fact that just because it has been taking me forever to sit down and turn my idea into a novel, people think I am not a real writer. Enjoyed reading your post!!

    1. I have to admit that I hadn’t thought about it until I read that blog post yesterday, either. I’ve never managed to complete a novel, but I’ve always considered myself a writer!

      And thank you very much πŸ™‚

  3. Wow. I read the middle two points of the post and thought to myself, “Hm…do I quality as the ‘after birth’ writer or the ‘just started’?
    Truth be told, I started writing in 6th grade due to the influence of English class (yeah, after 5+ years of taking English, That year influenced me to start writing, haha), and kept writing throughout the middle school years. Became a Freshman in high school and made a friend interested in my “work” (you know, for its time). Even had my mom jump on-board to help me get ‘there’ later. Alas, over that high school career, me and said friend grew a little more distant, and I haven’t been to a writers’ critique since then (she, the friend, was a pretty good critique).
    I’ve bee writing on-and-off since H.S., mainly blog posts on my Tumblr & Blogspot, and of dreams I have that I could clearly and accurately remember. Otherwise…my “novels-to-be” never saw the light of day or were even looked over.

    Safe to say, that’s why I’m “in it for the long run” in #NaNoWriMo πŸ™‚

  4. I really like this and I too have seen this varying attitude about NaNiWriMo around the blogosphere. Some people like to have a community even to help get their novel going. So what? At least they’re getting it done. And sometimes it’s really about just getting that first barebones draft out so you can flesh it into something fantastic. I think it’s just a divide between old school and new school.

    I know a lot of aspiring-to-be-published writers who aren’t bothering with social media, putting their focus only into landing that agent. When actually they’re missing out on opportunities, like making good writing friends, getting great feedback from other writers not in your zip code, and having loyal friends who will push your book when you do finally land that agent (or self-pub). I know I’d be more than eager to spread the love on my blog and other media tools when one of my blog buddies gets their foot in the published door.

    We’re all at different stages, but who cares. There’s more than enough room for all of our stories in the publishing world, especially if we polish them right.

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