Writer or Author? Have You Been Drinking?

I read a great post the other day by Dean Wesley Smith: The New World of Publishing: Writer vs. Author. Like me your first thought might be, huh? How can these two be working against one another? You better lay off the silly juice, Melissa. They’re really the same thing. Right?

Although slight, according to the post there’s one important difference. (And a little Tequila every now and then never hurt anyone! LOL)

* A Writer is someone who writes, is focused on the story they are writing at the moment, but is looking toward the future, toward that next story they plan to write when they finish.

* An Author on the other hand, is someone who has written, is focused on the book they published, is busy marketing and watching how sales are going. In a sense, they are stuck in the past as far as their writing is concerned.

For me, this was a lightning bolt moment. I never set out to write just one book and then sit back and watch what happened. I write because I love it. I get such a rush when creating new characters, new locations, and new situations to torture them with. (insert evil laugh here. 🙂 ) Writing has evolved over the years into something I must do to be true to myself and stay happy.

When I first started out all those years ago, writing was so much fun. I had no idea about craft or what it took to actually get your book published. I was having a blast watching the story unfold before me, finding that perfect word to make a sentence really pop, and having a character surprise the heck out of me by doing something I totally didn’t expect. It all gives me goose bumps just thinking about it even now. There really is something to be said about naivety. 🙂  Working my tail off last year publishing two books and a short story really stole all the fun right out from under me.

Why? Because I lost sight of my dream. I got way too concerned about all the marketing, guest blogging and sales data that I forgot to sit down each day and write. Well, I didn’t actually forget. I just didn’t have any time left.

Isn’t that how it goes with anything we really want to do in life? Whether it’s painting, scrapbooking, photography, etc. or even playing your favorite sport, there always seems to be things thrown in our paths that keep us from doing what makes us happy.

Most of my non-writing friends are shocked when they find out all the work – the blood, sweat and tears, that goes into writing one little story. They don’t understand why I enjoy all this craziness. LOL  I smile and say, “Me either! But I’m so glad I discovered the joy it brings along with the crazy.”

Now This Little Guy is Loving Life!

With my kids getting older, I only have a few more years of playing mom. Thankfully the writing will still be here. Something for me to do so I won’t feel so lost.

No matter what your dream is, I say get out there and find a way to pursue it. And make sure to keep the fun factor intact. Once it becomes nothing more than work or stresses you out, it’s just not worth it anymore in my opinion. The hardest part is to  figure out how to balance it all.

 Any tips? How do you keep the fun from slipping away?

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22 Responses

  1. One of our bloggers here (Ms. Keri Ford) talked about writing her Apple Trail series and how she sat down to write something she enjoyed and to hell with the “rules”…that she was tired of trying to follow all the “writing rules.” That has stayed with me and I agree. Screw the rules. Write and love the process.

    With my debut coming out, I’m afraid I’m in the “author” role at the moment but trying to force my writer out of her cave this week! 🙂

    • that’s me! I wrote that story in a week, had a blast with it. editing the next week and if i have my time line right, sold it the next week! now that is my kind of speed!

      but in complete serious, I still think of that when I sit down. If I’m not having fun, the book isn’t going to be fun. or good.

      Cyndi you’re so close! it’s hard to let the writer out. don’t feel guilty for not writing. it’s your FIRST RELEASE!

  2. Keri’s post was inspiring! 🙂 I agree too. Those rules are only guidlines. LOL

    And get that writer out soon, Cyndi! I’m finding it a tad difficult to get back into the swing. We had Mary Buckham here on Saturday for our chapter meeting. Lots of great stuff in her workshop and I’m hoping this will do the trick for me. 🙂

    • 🙂 after learning all the rules and then flipping them my middle canary at them, I learned something: all that crap seeped into my writing anyway. but when I quit *focusing* on them, it all came out like it was supposed to.

  3. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the fun, but i’s made easier with friends – my online friends. Escaping the wip for some Twitter time or some “grumping” on the loops with people who understand me helps keep the fun in writing. And conferences. They inspire me. Get a good speaker and you can have writers fighting to get back to their work.

    Did I miss that post by Keri? Hmmmm…

  4. I know exactly what you mean, Melissa…I’m taking longer on the next book, trying to get that spark back! But I think as writers/authors we’re blessed, not everyone gets to do what they love!

    • I agree, Tess. I feel very blessed to have found a passion I can call my own. I love being a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend etc., but the writing is something that makes me who I am. Makes me just a little different from the norm. I get to carve out my very own special identity so to speak. 🙂

  5. I can definitely say yes, this was the case back when we were rodeoing hard, chasing championships and finals qualifications. Between the time and money commitment and the intense competition it was easy to forget that you started roping because you loved to rope, not because you wanted to win. If you do start roping solely because you were in it to win it, you usually don’t last through the first long slump.

    Same goes for writing. Those who start because they want to publish and make the big bucks generally fall by the wayside. And those who write because they love it have to figure out how to keep success from ruining a beautiful relationship.

    • Great example, Kari Lynn! When the going gets tough, you find out just how much you like something and how hard you are willing to work at it. 🙂

  6. Wow, Melissa, I’m not published yet, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve realized that some of the directions I wanted to take with my book got nixed before I even got there because in my head I thought “you can’t do that”. Or worse, because a well-meaning friend told me I couldn’t. It’s become so unconscious I don’t always know that I’ve done it.

    I’m trying to get back to the feeling of that first year where I wrote exactly what I wanted and had so much fun with it. I hope to get to author status, but I never want to quit being a writer! 🙂 Good luck!

    • I just HAVE to respond to you, Gwen.

      When I started writing, I was SO excited about this RS I was writing. I went to a writers’ workshop and was totally shot down. Was told..”You can’t do that. The blackmail victim has to be the heroine, not her best friend. That’s too much description. blah blah blah” Wrecked my writing for almost a year. I swear. I still have never gone back to that book even though I pitched it to an editor as fluke and got a request for a full!

      The other day I was writing and I thought to myself, “I can’t do that,” then I thought..”Why can’t it?” When I first starting writing I was writing to submit to Harlequin. They have some very specific dos and don’ts. I realized that I was STILL viewing my writing through those narrow guidelines. I don’t write for HQ. I write FOR ME. There was NO reason I couldn’t do what I wanted to do.

      I am trying to recapture the fun and joy I had writing that RS before I was told so much

    • Gwen, I know exactly how you feel. I went through the same thing back in 2010. It’s a big reason I decided to give the self publishing a shot. I can honestly say, for me, for right now, it was the best thing I ever did. Doing so lifted a huge weight from my shoulders as far as trying to fit my writing into all those little boxes. When I do write now, I feel so free. LOL

      And Cyndi’s so right. We need to write for us first. Then comes the hard part of trying to figure out what advice to take and what advice to just let go. All those critiques and suggestions from contests and I edited my first MS to the point I didn’t even like it anymore. It wasn’t my story. No one writes a story like you would. And that’s what makes it so wonderful. The “YOU” part. And this is what readers want to. Something fresh. Something different.

      With all the new changes in the publishing industry, it’s really the BEST time to be a writer. The options and opportunities are endless. The truth is “Yes, You Really Can Do it!” Go, Gwen, Go! 😉

  7. that dog is awesome.

    my husband is the paycheck bringer in the family. my checks get me a tank of gas 🙂 he saw my last check and said “if I made that much in three months working like you do, I wouldn’t have the will to get out of bed in the mornings”

    I just laughed and kept to myself that it was WAY more than three months worth of work. that the check only showed the length of time the book had been for sale. the time invested in writing it, editing it, editing it, editing it, editing it….and so on wasn’t included.

    I think it’ll be always be awesome and fun and inspiring knowing each book I’ve written started out with a completely blank page.

    • I love that feeling too, Keri! It’s so cool to watch the story unfold from a simple idea. Hubby is still coming to grips with the idea I’m doing this more for the enjoyment than for the money. I think it’s a man thing. LOL

  8. First, I have to growl at the “definitions” of writer and author. I don’t like the negative connotation to “living in the past,” and I’m not sure it’s correct, anyway. People are READING the book in the present, and promotion and marketing are working toward future results.

    I have to admit that I am very, very lucky. Since my first book was contracted in 1999, my writing falls by the wayside every time I have a release or life interferes. But I never lost the joy of writing. Even when the revisions on Under the Moon were killing me, it never felt like work in a bad way.

    Maybe because from the very beginning, I took this on as a job. It was never something “fun” to do. I wanted a career, and I knew no job of any kind is without its negatives. So I try to take them all in stride, and I’ve been lucky that they’ve never affected how I approach my writing. I still love getting the words on (digital) paper, and reading them again during revisions, and though most of the time I’m sick of the book by release, I still love every step! 🙂

  9. LOL Natalie! I thought the same thing and I’m still not so sure I agree with it totally. For me, it did help me get back on track and realize what I need to be doing. I want to write. The business side, I’m really going to have to work at to find that balance you seem to have found. I want to love every step too!! 🙂

    • ANYTHING that helps us focus on the writing and make it fun or joyful or our primary purpose is good, even if pedantic, opinionated people like me pick it apart. LOL

      Balance is freaking elusive, man. It’s a constant battle to achieve it, and never stays for long!

  10. Great post, Missy.
    I have been saying since my first book went live, “I thought writing the book was the hard part!” As an indie-publisher, I’m the writer, the publisher, the publicist. This is about all I can handle if I want to write anything new. I have great people who give the final polish to my books and also a couple of great cover artists. But I say, no matter how you publish, there are 3 major hats we have to wear interchangeably: Writer, Author and Publicist.
    BTW, congratulations on Faithful Deceptions being at #27 on the kindle romantic suspense list. Yay You!!!

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_6/184-4179471-4828526?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=fiction&sprefix=fictio#/ref=sr_pg_3?rh=n%3A133140011%2Ck%3Afiction%3Eromance%3Eromantic+suspense&page=3&keywords=fiction%3Eromance%3Eromantic+suspense&ie=UTF8&qid=1326171903

  11. Oops, didn’t mean that to be anonymous.
    *hugs*

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