Are You a Writer, or Just Good at Writing?

I tell people I am a writer, but am I?

My niece is a writer – she writes homework assignments (she’s eight!), and my wife is a writer – she writes notes for me on the fridge, on my laptop screen, the bathroom mirror…she leaves me lots of notes. My niece and my wife write clearly and concisely, as do my fellow university students, people I work with, so on etc.

But what makes the difference between having the ability to write with some competency and “being a writer”?

For me, the first difference is CHOICE.

Most people write because they have to, or it’s the best option at the time (or, like my mom, they can’t figure out how to leave a voice mail). Writer’s choose to forgo non-written communication for the written stuff (aka “the good stuff”).

Why do writers choose writing over other forms of communication? How you answer that question should give you a good hint as to whether you are a writer or a write-well-er (can I trademark that?). The correct answer of course is, “because writing is awesome!” Or, if you’d like something more serious, writing is a communication technique that is patient enough to allow for thoughtful word choice. Thoughtful word choice allows for the infusion of rhetoric and magic. Or we could go with one of my favorite quotes, “Writing is like a sacrifice to Zeus, it is a ritual entered into voluntarily but the sacrifice to the god is you” – Jim Sliney Jr..

The second difference is SCOPE OF INTENT.

When a writer begins writing there is an intent behind his decision. We can say the same about my niece or wife or mom but when a writer writes his ambition is nothing less than to change the world, even if in very small intervals. A refrigerator note intends to remind or instruct I suppose, but an essay intends to remind or instruct on a larger scale or more cerebral or emotional way.

I write because I can but also because I choose to and because it is a vehicle, the best vehicle, for getting abstract thoughts from inside the curious vault of my brain and purposely into the mind of someone else.

Graham Wells

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Graham is a mature writer studying Creative Writing at Columbia University. He has extensive experience writing copy for small health companies, and generating educational content for patient support organizations. He also writes humor, poetry and social media content. He is comfortable under pressure and delivers on time.

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