So, what is the universally accepted definition of a “real” writer?

When can I tell people, “I’m an author” without feeling like I’m stretching the truth so thin you could read quite small print through it?


Published authors who have achieved what I would call a universally accepted definition of “success” have something to say about this question. Let’s take their definition as a correct one, because we can all assume they know what they’re talking about.

Their views on the subject boil down to: If you are writing things down, you are a writer. Full stop. They say nothing about being published, numbers of books sold, money, careers, fans, or personal satisfaction.

If you put down your thoughts using the written word, you are a writer.


Yay! I’m a writer!

This post by Jerry Jenkins sums it up nicely. Like the others he says you know you’re a writer when you’re writing but in a new twist he adds in the requirement of conscious growth.

” . . . real writers want the feedback. They want to get better, to learn, to grow, to succeed.” (Linked article, 7/20/15). In his definition it’s not enough just to put words down on paper and leave it at that or say, ‘I write some and talk about writing and read about writing and most of all talk about the writing I’m going to do’. You must write and also want to do it well. You must put in the work and feel the drive to improve.

work hard

There’s a lot of truth in that. It’s possible I agree with him because he confirms my own thoughts (and that’s always nice) but I do want to learn and grow and succeed. I want to soak up everything and get my words on the page in a way that will not only suck readers in, it will stick in their minds.

Some of the best times in my life have been sitting in the sunshine slipping into another world through an author’s words. I want to return that favor. I want to seduce readers into caring about the people I create, to trap them in a web of how things could be, not how they are in real life. In, you know, a good way. Not a creepy way.


I genuinely want to hear about what I’m doing wrong so that I can start doing it right. Someday I want my books to mean as much to a reader as my favorite authors have meant to me. A little immodest, I admit, but that’s my goal.

Although it differs from the “if you write you’re a writer” definition it’s still my own personal definition. The goal post that I have marked out for myself. On the day I hear from a reader that they couldn’t put the book down, I will know that I’m a “real” writer. And I hope I will always feel the need to take the criticism and use it to get better.

Photo courtesy: by Bonnie Kittle