In writing circles the question of who is a writer slides onto the menu board with predictable frequency. Just when an explanation seems to offer a tidy answer such as “someone who writes”, complications crop up. Words like “finished manuscript”, “author” and “publication” are added to the mix.
Last week I came across a blog entry by Lauren Lise Baratz-Logsted in which she shares her own version of what it means to be a writer. I applaud her honesty and the wisdom of her interpretation.
She reports that she wrote 34 pages that day. “They may not be perfect pages, or even good pages, but for me it’s all part of growing a book and it’ll give me something to edit when the time comes. I don’t write 34 pages every day, just so you know. But I do set the bar every day and I’ve been doing so ever since I started writing seriously almost fifteen years ago. In the beginning the daily goal was three pages….
“Everyone I talk to has their own definition of what it is to be a writer. Some say that if you’re writing at all, often or rarely, published or not, you’re a writer. I’m not here to dispute that. But my own personal definition of a writer, just for me to live by, is that to be a writer, when I’m working on a project I need to show up every day and write. Sometimes projects require a gestation period before getting started, but once started there’s no waiting for inspiration or the Muse. There’s just me, and the computer, and whatever bar I decide to set myself.”
Lauren isn’t saying that her formula is the right one for you or for me, only that it works for her. Her straightforward admission becomes my light bulb discovery. It tells me success as a writer is a very personal achievement. Each of us must establish our own blueprint and with an architect’s precision adhere to the discipline that allows us to attain whatever measure of success has become our goal.
There is no one universal answer. There is only the response we give to the voice within.