Thursday, August 02, 2007

When Can You Call Yourself A Writer

Unlike other professions, anyone can call themselves a writer. There's no license exam to take, no registration to secure, no certification needed. The good thing about that is anyone can become a writer and get into writing (and to a certain extent, who doesn't write per se?). The not-so-good thing about that is that the qualification is murky.

I mean professional writers tell you when you're meant to be a writer. The most common answer I've seen is needing to write as much as you need to eat or drink. That's well and good as far as self-examination is concerned but when can a person humbly call themselves a professional writer? Is it when they've had X number of works published? When they've written X number of fan fics? When they've won an award? When they're handed their first paycheck for writing?

Of course this is the insecure, wannabe-writer in me talking. But for most people who haven't been published or paid for their writing or won an award, there'll always be that voice whispering doubts.

1 comment:

bhex said...

for me, a "writer" is something you can call yourself at any point in your life, and whether or not you've actually finished anything worth reading. whether or not it's something other people can call you, of course, is a relative thing.

i think bob ong wrote something about this in stainless longganisa... if you have never won an award, or your byline isn't found on a famous publication/production, people won't think of you as a "serious" writer, and won't think of your writing as a "real" job.

my definition attempts to make it simple, but of course it's not: for me, as long as you write for a living, you're a pro writer. if you're employed as an editor in a magazine or a copywriter at an ad agency, or if you contribute full-time to publications as a freelancer, you're a pro. you don't plagiarize, you are meticulous about the quality of your work, you have deadlines and you make it a point to stick to them - in short, you adhere to basic tenets of professionalism when you write. hence, you're a "pro."

being a "pro writer" and simply a "writer" can mean two different things to someone who loves to write, i think. you can call yourself a "writer" if you write for fun, whether or not you earn from it. but being a pro calls for a lot more.