Are you an Author or a Writer? by @RobertHughes05

I was recently asked this question and had no hesitation in answering it.

“Why did you give that answer?” was the next question.

Although I had given an answer, the person asking me the questions went away not fully convinced I had answered their questions correctly.

Later that evening, while laying in bed and not able to get to sleep, the question kept going round and round in my head.  ‘Am I an author or a writer?’

When asked the question, earlier that day, my answer was that I was a writer. When asked why I was not an author, I put it down to the fact that I have never had a book published.  I’ve written quite a few short stories and am in the process of writing a book, but I have only ever published my short stories on my blog. Doesn’t that then mean that I am a writer, and not an author?

I’ve asked the same question to a few people who I know enjoy writing and those that have had books published declared themselves as authors, whereas most of those that have written, but never had anything published in a book, declared themselves as writers.  So I thought my argument was won and that I had answered the question correctly.  Then somebody mentioned to me that I should consider myself as a ‘trainee author’, which I guess I am because I want to have my stories published in a book one day, but the word ‘author’ still means something completely different to me, even with the word ‘trainee’ in front of it.

I suppose just about every human being in this world of ours is a writer.  Whether they write a letter, an email, a shopping list, or a greeting card, they’re actually writing, which makes them a writer.  However, if I look at it another way, writing a letter, an email, shopping list, or a greeting card is not being creative, is it?  So, maybe the word writer can mean lots of different things?

If asked, I’ll never answer that I am an author, because I don’t believe I am.  Yes, I have a number of short stories under my belt which have been published on my blog, but that does not make me an author.  Not just yet anyway.  If I go ahead and have those short stories published in a book then I would gladly answer that I am an author but, until I do so, as far as I am concerned I am a writer…for now.

Here’s something else to throw on the fire.  Having written this article, can I now consider myself as the author of it?  Does that mean I am, after all, an author? Am I digging myself into a very deep hole here or is there a simple answer to the question ‘am I an author or a writer?’

hugh_roberts_book_reviewer.jpg

 

 

 

 

@RobertHughes05 (https://twitter.com/RobertHughes05)

hughsviewsandnews.com (http://hughsviewsandnews.com/about/)

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45 thoughts on “Are you an Author or a Writer? by @RobertHughes05”

  1. It took me a long time after I published my first book to ‘fess up that I was an author… maybe it was because I self published, but calling myself an author made me feel such a fraud at first!

    Then I thought about how hard I’d worked on it, all the new skills I’d learned to produce it, and I started to feel proud of it, warts and typos and all! I wasnt just an author… I was actually more than that, all Indies are!

    I wonder if you think that being an author is in some way superior to being a writer? I dont. I call myself a writer first and foremost. I admit Ive never looked up the dictionary definition of author, but to me its the writer of novels. I also write blog posts, magazine articles, poems, short stories and memoirs. In my opinion, that makes me a writer, rather than an author.

    I think its just how you feel about your writing. I think the words writer and author are interchangeable, use whichever makes you feel good… just so long as you dont put the word ‘aspiring’ in front of it! If you are writing, then youre a writer/ author already lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with you about what the word author means to me. Like you, whenever I hear or say the word ‘author’, I’m referring to somebody who has written a book which has been published, whether it be hardback, paperback, or on an electric device. Because I’ve never had a book published, I always refer to myself as a writer, if asked.

      However, perhaps we can be both? I’ve written many an article for my own blog and am told that I am the author of those articles, so here I am being told I’m an author. Yes, you’re right, we can interchange between both words if we like, and I guess it is all down to whichever makes you feel happier. However, until I write and have that book published, I do feel a little bit of a fraud when referring to myself as an author.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well you’re certainly not a fraud, but I understand that feeling. When you publish that book you will feel you’ve earned the right to call yourself an author so thats something worth waiting for!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I call myself a writer. A published writer, on account of my published articles and my blog.
    I agree with you… I think a published book 📚 gives you the title of author. 😉

    Like

    1. I guess a published writer is the same as an author? The English language seems to be always coming up with new words, some of which mean the same as an existing word. I guess it’s down to the individual how they declare themselves when asked the question I posed in this post. Thank you for your comment, Published writer.

      Like

  3. In film theory there was this big thing about authorship (debate if the director of a film is the author as there are so many people involved) but the main point was that there had to be something that made their work recognisable as theirs and not somebody else’s. To me it’s nothing to do with publishing or not, but…I also think I’m a writer. And an author (I hope).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I suppose if your work is copyrighted when it is published on your blog then you must be an author. Throughout time we’ve had authors. If you go back to the time of Homer and those of his ilk, you will find their works were not written down but spoken word. Does the fact Homer did not write down his work not make him the Author of the Iliad and the Odyssey?
    A wise friend of mine says that we are authors of our own work. You are the author of your life. You make a choice that leads to the next scene written.
    As for the stories you write, who else would be called the author of those stories but you?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. Although at times I look at some writing and wonder if the person even took time out–Ah, I’ve got it. A writer doth writer while an Author doth write but then takes care to ensure the writing is of worth in execution perhaps. Miss Maplebuns is the work of an Author while say the scribblings on the stall wall of the local bar restroom is the work of a writer of sorts.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. In response to this article I looked up the dictionary definitions for both ‘author’ and ‘writer’. Did not help! The arguments in here about whether published or not hold some water. But then having the stories on a blog is considered by some to have ‘published’ them. I would be interested in hearing other author’s/writer’s opinions. In the end I do not think it matters unduly but it would be nice to have some clarity.

    Like

    1. Before writing the article I purposely did not look up the definition of author or writer. Based on the comments being left and having had more time to think about the question I’m increasingly believing that we are all writers and authors regardless of if we have had a book published. So we can claim to be either if ever asked.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. To be honest I don’t think there’s much difference between an author and a writer by way of status but I do think an author is one who writes something for public consumption whereas a writer tends to write for their own benefit or for one other person in the form of another.
    Since you write to entertain or educate and have a multitude of readers I’d say you’re very much an author these days where a blog can easily take the place of a book. After all, people who write for kindles are still authors despite not having printed books.

    Whatever you are or see yourself as, be comfortable. Your readers enjoy your work however you want to be known.
    Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I say we are writer’s and authors. The minute we write something we have become an author, published or not. I am still not sure that self publishing makes us an “author.” I am self publishing on my blog. I cannot see how that is different from offering a free book on Amazon. If being an author means that you receive money for your written work then that would be the key. I do not want my writing to be measured only by how much money I can earn doing it. Does that make sense? You got me thinking on this Hugh. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I wasn’t ready to call myself an author until I published that first book. Now that there is this physical thing people can pick up and hold in their hands (a paper book or e-reader), I feel a little more confident using the “a” word. I had the same thought process as you, though. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Answer: Yes, you are digging yourself a deep hole worrying about how to call yourself. Is blogging real writing? Does being published make you a success, or a good writer?

    Like

  10. Very interesting question, Hugh – and I have to say that my instinctive answer would always be, ‘I am a writer…’ I say this despite now having published four books; I will continue to say it even if I publish forty books and become wealthy and famous; I will continue to say it because, for me, the passion, the fire, the spark, comes in the act of writing and not that of publishing. But I also say it because many people who do publish, and are known as authors, are not what I would call writers! I prefer to say that I am a writer – or that I am a published writer! You are a writer! Some people are not. Some are organisers of other writers (agents we call them, or publishers) – and that is fine.
    Me? I am a writer. I have been since I first found fascination in writing my own name when I was four! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Like you, I never felt like an author, until I published, and even then my use of the word was short lived. Authors are writers whose books I admire, and such a lofty title doesn’t sit well with me. Perhaps it’s a term readers can assign to us, rather than a title we give ourselves. I’m comfortable calling myself a writer, but I’m happy to call you the author of this piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Hugh, it’s really confusing, but I think the word ‘writer’ is more appropriate, you write, you communicate by adding words together in a blog post or in a book. The word ‘author’ is more specific, author of what? of a book, of scientific articles, of a blog post. If someone had asked me that question, I’d say: I’m writer because I write (journal, blog, scientific articles…) and I’m author of scientific articles, but I’m not an author of book. Writer can be a job, but author is not a job. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Writers are flexible. Authors tend not to be. Writers adopt a way of life. It’s been my experience that authors are kind of out of touch with humanity. I kind of have to agree with Ali Isaac on a couple of points, too. She pretty much described my definition of a writer because she adapts her skill.

    And yes, PLEASE don’t put “aspiring” in front of anything. I belong to a professional writer’s group and we have a conference each year. There’s lots of industry reps there: agents, editors, booksellers – the whole lot of them. We wear name tags on lanyards that have our names and genres on them. My sister and I were running the agent/editor pitching sessions when we noticed this person had in the genre line “Aspiring Author.” We gagged. She wasn’t taken seriously at all. Why? Just because you aren’t published doesn’t mean you’re not a writer. A writer writes. Period. Aspiring means you haven’t the guts nor the dedication to declare that to the world. Every pitch she gave was rejected.

    Had she put nothing in the genre line would have been honest, at least. She should have put what genre she was aspiring to. But “Aspiring Author” is a killer, and she basically wasted the conference fees by marking herself as such. I mean, why not put a giant letter “A” on your chest?

    This conference wasn’t just for professionals, by the way. It’s for everyone. Lots of people got an opportunity to learn what’s new in the industry, to make a pitch, or to hone their craft.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I am neither. I am a jotter, a scribbler, a recorder of words, a gushing tap that letters spill out of as I randomly assign them to words, a medium for thoughts that wish to escape from my mind to my fingers, a conduit of electrical impulses trying to form a pattern.
    Oh so much more. I think the lack of hair has gone to my head!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. If one who writes wants to be considered an author then without a doubt they should proclaim that they are.

    An author is broadly defined as “the person who originated or gave existence to anything” –Wikipedia
    One that originates or creates–Merriam Webster
    A person who begins or creates something–Cambridge Dictionary

    There are societal parameters that can be very constricting, difficult for a creative to fit into such boxes. Is not a graffiti artist the author of his work? My seven year old son the author of his many, many stories? He believes he’s an author.

    Perhaps authorship should be considered by what’s in the heart of the writer, less is in the mind of the critic. Not by how much money one has made from their craft or believers in their deserving the title.

    You say you want to be an author, then I believe you are. I also believe that, based on the law of attraction, if you begin to have the feelings that what you have accomplished is that of an author, a published author if that is the desire, keeping focus on the having not the lack of, then it’s in the mail.

    Author is an umbrella that writer sits under with designer, photographer, musician, architect, choreographer, filmmaker, etc. avant-garde or main stream. It’s a big umbrella, room for everyone who wants to get under–an individuals choice to join the group, no requirement other than authoring an original creation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well I’m really pleased to hear that you son considers himself to be an author. Good for him. I just wish that when I was his age I had done the same and considered myself an author for all the work I wrote in my English Literature lessons at school. It might have made a difference, perhaps, to what I have written since?

      As for a graffiti artist, I would call them an artist rather than an author, as I believe authors write words, whereas artists create pictures to look at and sometimes admire (which includes artwork with words).

      The last paragraph of your comment, I think gives us all the perfect answer. ‘Author’ is an umbrella, and under that umbrella sits all the words associated with it such as ‘writer.’

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree with your point about a person who creates graffiti being more accurately described as an artist. I still think they are the author of their work, under the umbrella, though they mightn’t be a writer (depends on the content).

        There are writers whose words are considered art; Sark (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) immediately comes to mind. Some chefs and fashion designers write and create original works. Published or not, I consider them authors.

        I don’t like to pick apart other people’s words, getting hung up on specifics which I feel is unnecessary much of the time and can come across as being an instigator. I am speaking from a place of personal reflection & research from a time when I wasn’t sure what to call myself regarding my sewing and designing. Was I a seamstress, a designer, a writer, an artist, a sewer (definitely not this one, it is so yucky if mispronounced 😉 )?

        There is a narrow accepted definition of author as well as a broad one. I subscribe to the broad one. One other point to consider is whether or not the work is eligible for copyrighting. I’ve found it defined as ‘protecting the original works of authorship’ or ‘protecting an original work or creation’, keeping in mind that copyright laws vary by country and are ever changing. The list of what can be copyrighted goes far beyond writing a book.
        I cannot sincerely comment on the bulk of your work, certainly not on the English Lit lessons of your youth 😉 as we have only just met. Unfortunate for me as I’m dying to insert some witty remarks here! But from what I have viewed on Hugh’s Views and News, I consider you an author. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I love this question – it came up for me especially when I went to make a Facebook page for myself. I self-published a book but for some reason, didn’t feel I was entitled to call myself an author because it was a) self-published and b) is a journal that people write in, so I figured, if I didn’t do all of the writing, then can I really call myself an author? In the end, I called myself a writer. But I suppose author is also applicable.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. interesting debate. I would rationalize the same as you. I’m a writer. However I’m also the author of Serins Sphere and my other blogs. But because they are blogs that makes me a blogger and not an author.

    However as blogger’s I think we do many things. We write, we edit, in some case we create images we are: authors of our blogs = blogger.

    Author of book = writing, creating, re-writing etc and finally by some means having it published being it self-published or traditionally published.

    Being indie or being traditionally published does not make the one better than the next. An Indie has more control over his / her own work. I like control… but uups, I’m steering off topic here.

    According to the big fat Oxford dictionary on my desk a “author is a writer of a book” . 🙂
    So logic would say a blogger is a writer of a blog.

    We are all writers, it comes down to what we write I guess.

    So you should have said you are a blogger and an aspiring author. 🙂 I think we got the technicalities covered. That is what I call myself.
    I’m a blogger and an aspiring author. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This thought/debate comes to my mind every so often. All of the responses are so interesting because everyone has their own take on it.

    What am I? I’m a writer but it took me way too long to even feel comfortable calling myself that. I’m not sure when I will feel like I can say I’m an author…. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This was a great article. I recently wrote a blog post titled “What Does It Mean To Be An Asian Australian Writer”. Now that I think about it, changing the word “writer” to “author” would give the title a bit of a different meaning – it would probably give people the impression I’ve published written works widely which isn’t true.

    Both words imply passion for words to some extent. So why not use both to describe yourself that if you take writing seriously 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I quite agree, Mabel. In fact, had I seen that title on your blog post I would have certainly taken it that you had published a book.

    I think most of us now agree we can use both author and writer to describe ourselves, but I still do not like using ‘author’ for myself, not at least until I have a published book under my writing belt.

    Like

  21. You are always the author of what you write, articles, blogs, books, You can say you are the author of all your writing. I am the author of three books, yet I remain referring to myself as a writer. It’s a strange conundrum, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

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