The question here is what makes a writer a true ‘writer’? Some authors would answer with simply ‘if you write, you are a writer’. Others prove to be more discriminating and add that a writer gets paid for their work. In this case, I am a writer by both definitions, but somehow I still feel lacking. I feel as though I should be working as a full time writer, making enough money to survive on, perhaps receiving honors and fame. Dare I even hope?
I went through a period of time where I read tons of books about writing. I wanted the scoop on this issue of making a living as a writer and I think I have a better idea now on true expectations of the field.
Writers have to keep writing. You won’t get rich by writing one novel. You’ll have to continue cranking out good work. Authors will also mix things up by writing articles, short stories, or offer services to speak for groups such as local schools and libraries, or book clubs.
Expect and overcome the rejection slips. Rejections of any type can falter your pursuit to be a writer, but bear in mind the great writers all faced the same thing. Not all rejections are bad either. You might be lucky enough to receive praise, constructive criticism, or possibly even encouragement to publish elsewhere. From what writers I know tell me, the most common rejection is ‘this is not what we’re looking for’. It doesn’t mention the writing was bad. One writer I know received a rejection that her story was a marvelous read, but they couldn’t use it at this time.
Don’t rest on your laurels. In other words, do not be idle with writing. Just because you’ve received an acceptance letter, this doesn’t mean your job is done. You need to keep writing, generate ideas, weave stories, and create more ‘great works’. As a writer, you should always be writing.
But to answer the question of ‘what makes a writer?’, I would say its the passion for writing that makes you a writer, regardless of payment, prestige, or publication.