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October 17, 2017

This question has come up numerous times lately in my wanderings across the web.

Are you a writer or an author?

What’s the definition of each?

The prevailing opinions have been relatively consistent. Oh, sure, there’s always someone contrary. You have to expect that when you’re talking about hundreds to even thousands of people.


Writing itself. I’ve stated many times that writing for me is a passion. It’s not a hobby or a job. It’s something I love to do. I’m going to do it whether I’m published or not. I’m going to put it out there either for pay or for free. If I can get paid, so much the better, but one way or tuther, it’s getting out there for the one or two of you to see. Some would consider that self-publishing. Okay, I’ve already done plenty of that unofficially over many years. Never paid a dime for any of it except with my time and effort. Is that still self-publishing? That’s a whole ‘nuther discussion.

Writing has been a job for me. In that case, I still loved doing it so it almost wasn’t even work, though by definition, it was employment and I was getting paid to do it. In my other work, long before I took up writing, I did plenty of writing as part of my job as an Air Force maintenance puke. Once I found my muse, so to speak, I often liked the writing part a lot better than my “real” job!

In all of that, I considered myself a writer.


By the generally accepted definition, a writer’s someone who writes. Whether for fun, or work, they write. For purposes of this discussion, we’re talking about stories, whether short, long, fiction or non-fiction, poetry, projects, etc.

A writer is someone who writes and writes and writes. Their goal may or may not be to get published.

I’ll tell you right now that if you’re a prolific writer and put in at least a little effort, the chances are, you’ll get at least something published.


Writing and being good at it doesn’t necessarily go together.

You remember the old computer term, garbage in/garbage out?

That can apply to writing as well, if you just write with no regard for honing and improving your craft. If you slap your stuff down on paper or in the ether, with no regard for cleaning it up or getting feedback—no attempts to improve your work, don’t ever expect to get anywhere with it.

A small caveat I needed to get out of the way.


Now, this is the meat of the matter. An author is a writer that gets published. When you see your name in lights, so to speak, you’re now an author.

That pretty much sums up the difference between a writer and an author.

A writer writes, while an author is a writer that’s published.

How many of you are both?

To get technical, I’ve been an “uncredited” author since the late 90’s when I wrote all those preventive maintenance manuals for the rubber extrusion plant in Frederick, Oklahoma. However, my first piece, credited under my name, was a short story for an anthology by the Highland Writer’s Group in Highland, Indiana in 2002. Now that was my first real credit as a named author.

Even though I was writing much earlier, I first considered myself as an official writer for what I do now, fiction, since 1995 when I got serious about writing novels. Why? I guess it’s because I found my real muse and realized writing was a passion and not some passing thing. That time was my golden moment when I knew it’d be a lifelong thing for me.

Here I am, twenty-two years later (as I write this), and I’m both a writer and an author. I’m loving every minute of it (well, except the marketing). After all, nothing’s perfect.

How about you?

Happy writing!

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