What Separates the Writer from the Author
- By: Jessica Faust | Date: Feb 13 2018
Somewhere along the line, I started referring to those who write as writers and those who are published as authors, however, I think there’s an even stronger distinction between author and writer and it’s not just about getting published, but about how you approach your writing.
The writer writes whatever she wants. She’s compelled to write and rarely finds herself without pen and paper, she’s been known to say that she “has to write” just like she has to breathe. The writer writes every idea that comes to her, no matter the subject or genre. Today she writes a picture book, tomorrow a romance, and next week a hybrid science fiction, cozy mystery, and young adult. She has dreams of nonfiction as well.
An author doesn’t always have this “need to write” she loves it and probably yearns to do it, but it doesn’t always bring her joy. Sometimes it feels like work. An author doesn’t write whatever she wants but instead chooses to write to her audience. She has career goals and knows that to achieve them she needs to work at her craft, which is something far beyond just writing. She can’t write everything and anything because she doesn’t have the chops to do so, although it might be possible that she writes in more than one genre. In the beginning especially, she reads and hones her abilities in the genre where her strengths lay and understands what the customer, her reader, expects. An author knows the “formula” for a good book and pushes the boundaries to take it to the next level.
While there is, in my mind, a distinct difference between writer and author I also believe that everyone is, or has been, a writer, but not everyone becomes an author.
We also have a little voice in our heads that remind us no matter how hard we work or how talented we are the chips may not fall our way. Whenever we read a twitter post of another writer landing an agent or a writer friend succeeding more than us that little voice gets a little louder until we’re scrambling to find the lid. But for most of us, no matter how loud that little voice becomes, we get up every morning and do what we have to do to achieve our goal. To me, that’s an author.
I’m an (unpublished) author. This is a job (albeit an unpaid, no-deadline one). Like Bryan said, just need the chips to fall my way to tick the “published” box.
Bryan, Here’s my advice, for what it’s worth: Take Twitter and Facebook and Writer’s Digest and the rest of our writers’ media in very small doses. You cannot let it get to you. There will always be someone whose success depresses you–whether age-wise (Look at me, I’m only twenty-three and I’ve got a six-figure deal!) or talent-wise (we won’t go there), or genre-wise (Look at me, a three-book, steam-punk contract featuring…well you can make it up). The point is, at some point in your writing–and with apologies to Jessica’s point of view–you should consider yourself an author. Do not allow anyone to tell you what to think of yourself, to set your own narrative, so to speak, or to look a little skeptically at your level of industry or your talent. Your deadlines may not be dictated by a publisher, but for most of you, they are still there. You target your reading audience the same way, and you calculate the costs involved in professional cover and editing services. If writers’ conferences are any indication, most of you figured out your genre, like, back in the stone age, and you’re smart in all the ways a professional should be. Yes, there are exceptions with ‘beginners’, but I assume most of the present blog readers are not in that category. Okay…I feel better…