Finnian Burnett

Author, Educator, Cat Person

I belong to several online writing groups. Some are geared toward feedback, some are instructional, and some, the bulk of them, are simply places for writers to get together and talk about writing. Online groups are an excellent way to connect with other writers when a live writing group isn’t a possibility.

Lately, I’ve found a disturbing trend happening in my groups – maybe it has always been there, but I’ve seen it a lot recently… People telling other people that they aren’t real writers. I have been seeing it constantly in my groups and it is pissing me off. Some new writer who is just learning to break out of the cage of self-doubt and flex those creative skills is going to read these judgmental posts and slip right back in. These are just a few examples of what I mean:

  • You aren’t a real writer if you don’t write every day.
  • You aren’t a real writer if you don’t feel compelled to write.
  • You aren’t a real writer if you aren’t almost overwhelmed by your ideas.
  • You aren’t a real writer if you haven’t studied the craft of writing.
  • (My personal favorite) Writing is hard. If you tell me you love writing, I’m going to assume you aren’t a real writer.


I’m a writer. I don’t write every day. I don’t always feel compelled to write. I am sometimes overwhelmed with ideas and sometimes, I stare at the blank screen for an hour paralyzed with the fear that all of the ideas have dried up forever. I have studied the craft of writing. I continue to study the craft of writing. I can’t imagine I will ever stop studying the craft of writing. There are a lot of ways to do that and they don’t all involve going to college and many of them are free. The fact that I have a degree in Creative Writing doesn’t make me a more genuine writer than anyone else. In fact, I think I’ve learned more about the craft of writing over the past year than I did in my years of school.

I love writing. I also hate it. Sometimes, I’m afraid of it. And sometimes, it even bores me. It’s a job, it’s a life, it’s a passion, it’s an addiction. It’s a dream come true and a way to make a living. It’s creating worlds and it’s forgetting to move the laundry to the dryer because the story is so compelling, it can’t be stopped until the end. Some days, it’s deciding all the heating vents in the house need to be cleaned because that’s easier than writing. Writing is hard and sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes writing is busting out an incredibly brilliant short story in twenty minutes and sometimes it’s laboring over a submission with a deadline for three weeks.

There is one thing that makes someone a real writer. They write. They write when they can, they write when they’re able. They write. End of story. If you want to be a writer, write.

Now, if you want to be a published writer or a freelance writer or a working writer or a novelist or a blogger or —- Well, that’s a different story.

But whatever you do, don’t sit in judgment of someone else’s writing process. A real writer is too busy focusing on their own work to point a finger at everyone else.


4 thoughts on “Are you a real writer?

  1. ireneonorato says:

    Good article. I’ve experienced the gamut of emotions you’ve expressed about writing: love it, hate it, it’s boring, exciting, makes me laugh and cry. Though I may go a few days without penning a word, eventually I’ll get down to business and start that next novel, novella, or short story. Because it’s in my blood.

  2. Joy says:

    I am one of those who doesn’t write every day. Some days I’m lazy, some days I’m too busy, some days I want to write and nothing comes out. I am also one of those who takes to heart what people say. I have to keep telling myself that I am a writer, even if I don’t do write every day, even if I’m not bursting with ideas, even if I’m not compelled to write. My lack of discipline does not take away from me being a writer, it just pushes out my submissions. But I am still a writer. And yes, real writers are too busy focusing on their own work to point fingers at others! Excellent article, Beth!

  3. bethsnewlife says:

    You are definitely a real writer – and a talented one at that. ❤

  4. Anne Hagan says:

    Well said Beth. Real writers don’t have time to sit around and talk about who is a real writer and who isn’t. They’re too busy living life, sometimes enjoying it and sometimes writing.

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