Are You a Writer if You're Not Writing?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

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I believe I mentioned in a letter to Jenny recently that I haven't been writing much lately (since then that has changed, but this post still applies!). I tend to be slightly ADD when it comes to concentrating, and I only seem to remember two or three things at once. Essentially, I had forgotten to read literature that inspired me to write or inspired my story (Psithurism at the moment), and when I tried to sit myself down and do the thing, I felt painfully stuck. I knew where I wanted my story to go, I just wasn't too sure how to get there. The story was stagnant. Like I said in the letter, academic writing had cramped my imagination a bit, and doubling the effect was my neglect to read. Once I got to a certain point in The Help, Skeeter's determination to write about life as it is in Jackson, Missisipi seemed a red light to me: you need to do the same.

On the airplane rides to and from Boston, I pulled out my notebook and wrote a slow, small section, the scene I saw in my head at the moment, not necessarily the one that "needed" to be written. But before then, I began wondering: am I truly a writer if I'm not currently writing?

I'm not sure about this one. I could argue "yes" - to the extent that so long as your ideas are still flowing for stories and you're still pulling knowledge and inspiration from everything you read, you're a writer in the organization stage, and the writing will come afterwards.

I could also argue the "no," however: what makes you a writer if you aren't writing anything? The ideas won't wait for you to square them of in nice boxes: write them now and concern yourself with organization later!

This post isn't to say one or the other is truth. I actually want to ask you where you stand on the topic: are you a writer if you're not writing? There's certainly some truth to it. Or do we as writers need a break sometimes too? Can we really get a break with our minds on the proverbial ball 24/7?

What do you think?


  1. Uhm, I don't like how this post is convicting me. *shuts eyes tearfully* I AM a writer still, but you know what? I have hardly written anything in my stories these past months thanks to school-work and stuff. :'(

    But I still think about it. . . I do, I do!

    1. I don't think that not writing means you aren't a writer if the stories still occupy headspace, Joy. And when something means enough to you, you should make a little time for it, even if it's only 10 minutes a day. (Believe me, I understand the struggle against time!) I do wonder, however, if a person has adequate writing time, and does not use it, what does define him/her as a writer?

  2. I think that writing is different for everybody. I think if a writer's pools of imagination are still flowing, and their heart is still breathing words every minute, should they not be classified a writer? On the other hand, if you profess yourself to be a writer, yet do not take the title seriously or make time to work on your craft, where does this leave you?

    1. Precisely, Annie! You've hit the nail on the head.

    2. Thank you, Bree. (I would much prefer to be called Annie-Jo, by the way.)

  3. Well, I think if you're a writer you are always writing, but perhaps not writing it down. Although I don't know how much sense that might make to anyone else.

    Also, I've tagged you for the Sunflower Blogger Award over at my blog, Anything, Everything. Here's the link:


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