Are You a Writer or Author?

Every notice how writer and author are used interchangeable? I know I do it all the time. But are they really the same? As I began to think about the two, I tried to make a distinction. I looked up the definitions.

Writer:

  1. a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist.
  2. a clerk, scribe, or the like.
  3. a person who commits his or her thoughts, ideas, etc., to writing.

Author:

  1. a person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc.; the composer of a literary work, as distinguished from a compiler, translator, editor, or copyist.
  2. the literary production or productions of a writer.
  3. the maker of anything; creator; originator.

These definitions seem to support the notion that writer and author are interchangeable words. But here is why that’s often the case. Every author is also a writer. But I don’t think that every writer is an author. I’m using my own case as an example. For many years I was paid to write government documents. I wrote reports, speeches, brochures, consultation papers, and briefing notes. In many cases I was instructed on what to write. Sometimes I summarized submissions to the government or research. But nothing I did was creative or original. I was definitely not an author.

In 2016 I published by first novel, The Road Ahead. This was an original piece of fiction. At that point I crossed the line from being a writer to also being an author. Neither is more prestigious or accomplished that the other. There are just subtle difference.

A writer is service-oriented while an author is self-oriented. In fact, I still function in both roles. I write reports for clients while working on novels.

In the end if you want to be a writer, then you have to write. And if you want to be an author, then you also have to write.

So, just write and don’t worry about the distinction.

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