Author vs Writer

It’s much more fun to be an author than a writer.

Authors give talks, autograph their books, advise new writers, and greet fans with a smile and a nod. Writers sit at their computers (or with their pads of paper), try to decide how a character would act and speak in a particular scene, try to block out their internal editor and all distractions, and wonder if the story they’re trying to tell has any merit at all.

Writers—at least this writer—stares at the computer screen, gets up and goes into the kitchen, gets a cup of coffee, goes back to the computer, stares at the screen, types a few words, deletes most of those words, gets up, walks into the living room, stares at the dog, goes back to the computer, stares at the screen…

Many people see the public persona of the writer (the author) and think it’s an easy way to make money.  They’ve heard about the huge advance some author or another has received, read a book in just a few hours or maybe a couple days and thought, How hard can it be to put words on a piece of paper? Everyone has a book in him (or her). Right?

Little do they know (unless they give it a try) how hard it is to make a story flow so the reader is transported to another place and time, or how many times that writer probably wrote and rewrote the sentences, paragraphs, and chapters that read so easily. A well written book won’t give a hint at how the writer struggled to find just the right word that best described the character, location, or action, or how many times that writer deleted
a page of wonderful research or marvelous prose because it slowed the action.

Being a writer means being willing to work on a story for hours, days, months, even years without knowing if it will ever be published or read; being willing to put it out in public to be rejected or criticized; and being willing to do all that work with no promise of financial gain.  I’ve met wanna-be writers who have joined organizations I belong to or taken classes I’ve taught who are gung-ho to write a book. Some of these people are actually very good writers (better than I’ll ever be) and have great ideas for stories, both fictional and non-fiction, but after a year or so they drop out of the organization or never finish what they

Life has gotten in the way, they say. Something else came up. And it’s probably true. But life has gotten in the way of a lot of published writers, and things will always come up. The reality is writing is hard work with little promise of fame and fortune. For many the need to write doesn’t equal all of the negatives.

But for many of us, the need outweighs the negatives…and we just can’t stop.

Still…I think it’s far more fun to be “the author” rather than sit here at the computer and be “the writer.”

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13 Responses to Author vs Writer

  1. Author. My husband pushed me into launching my book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and now when I search for my book, I type my name under the “Author” box. I cannot tell you how much pleasure I receive. Also Florence made my website professional looking.

    “Salome’s Conversion” doesn’t have many sales, yet I’m happy.

  2. Maggie says:

    Great post. Not published…yet. But that’s what I’m doing right now while the roast cooks. Wait, I’m not writing. I stalled and I’m reading your blog before I flip windows and make myself write a few more sentences.

    Love the post! Great stuff.

    • Maris says:

      Yes, Maggie, it’s those moments when I’m stalled that the housework gets done. But often I find (and I’m sure you do to), that even though I walk away and tend to the cooking or cleaning, my mind is still working on the writing, and I do come back and write a few more sentences, or maybe a page. Today I finished 6 pages. They may not be 6 great pages, but I have words down that I can now edit. I am moving forward.

  3. Paula says:

    If “life has gotten in the way,” it’s time to remind myself that writing is my life! I just can’t NOT write.

  4. Liz Crowe says:

    nice observations Maris. we are both, aren’t we? That sense of dread, anticipation, excitement and fear when you approach a new work to me is the ultimate expression of being a writer. The sense of dread, anticipation, excitement and fear when you approach a 3rd round of edits, a review or yet another blog tour is the ultimate expression of being an author. I wouldn’t trade either of them.

    • Maris says:

      For me, the edits are part of being a writer, a part I actually enjoy because it allows me to make the work better. I see myself in the role of “author” when the work is finished and I’m talking about it. But you are right, we are both, and one can’t really separate one from the other…but there are people who would like to jump into the role of author without going through the writer stage.

  5. Susan Jaymes says:

    I agree with you. Although there are perks to both sides. When I decided to commit myself to being a writer, I didn’t realize how hard it would be but a finish product is pure satisfaction. I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

  6. Diane Burton says:

    How right you are, Maris. Being an author is so much more fun. Exciting to see your name on the cover of a book or, like Rohn wrote, on Amazon. But the real work must come first. Persistence, perseverence, perspiration (LOL). Without them, we couldn’t be authors.

  7. Lucy Kubash says:

    Yep, definitely more fun to have written a book than the actual writing. Although I do like the writing but lately it’s been more like the proverbial pulling teeth to get it done. Enjoyed reading your thoughts on the process.

  8. Well put, Maris. The glitz of being “a published author” doesn’t begin to reflect the time put into the product. I’m going to share this!

    • Maris says:

      Thank you, Patty. I know how many years you have put into being a writer. So glad you are now enjoying the stage of being an author.

  9. JC Hanks says:

    I hope one day to be able to say I am an author. Even though it was something I’d never planned (or expected) to do, I relate the “need to write” overruling everything else. Which is kind of odd being the business head that I am. The ROI is certainly not quick!