Is there a difference between an author and a writer?

Posted: March 18, 2015 in Random Thoughts on Life, Writing
Tags: , , , , , ,

A very wise man once said, “Becoming an author was an accident. Being a writer was on purpose.” Ok, it wasn’t a very wise man. I wrote those words as an introduction to my website (check it out at www.accidental-author.com), but I have looked back at them and wondered if I was being monotonous. Is there a difference between a writer and an author? Is it just six of one, half a dozen of the other? Does anyone care? I just read someone else’s blog entry (at https://thehappytypewriter.wordpress.com/) that convinces me that there are people who need to know that there is difference.

same difference

Dictionary.com defines an author as “a person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc.” The same site defines a writer as “a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc.” Seems pretty much the same thing, right? Not if you really read the definition. The author has written. The writer is engaged in writing. Being a writer is more than just an activity. It is something that is a part of someone. Its something that you do because you feel that you must. That writing might be in the form of a poem, a story, a novel, a blog or journal entry, or even freeform thoughts on a page. When you are a writer, you put some part of yourself onto that page. I am not making any claims about talent or ability or possibility of success. I am simply saying that there are a lot of writers out there, and that they shouldn’t stop being writers. Sometimes you feel that you need to take whatever it is in your mind, heart, or soul and record it on that most mystically seductive medium known as paper. Follow that need. Success isn’t a promise, or maybe not even a goal. For a writer, the writing was the goal.

An author is someone who has the talent, ability, planning, and ingenuity to take that need to write and turn it into something that others will consume through reading. There is a massive element of talent involved, as well as business acumen, interpersonal skills, and maybe even a little luck. Very few writers become authors, and fewer still become successful ones. However, every author is a writer. That is something that the most successful author has in common with a kindergartener that writes their first two-sentence tale.

If you are a writer that has not become an author, it doesn’t make you any less of a writer. I still haven’t achieved the level of an author (but a website called accidental writer sounds too awkward). That’s just fine. Be a writer. Don’t let anything stop you from it. Being a writer isn’t something that you do for success. It is something that you do for you. The last great acceptable selfish act.

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Comments
  1. The Happy Typewriter says:

    Great post! Love this line: “When you are a writer, you put some part of yourself onto that page.” It really is a need and a love.

    Like

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