Writers write. Right? If you’re a writer, you have to write, otherwise you’re not a WRITER.
Except I disagree.
You can be a writer even if you never write.
You get pleasure from scratching out words on paper. Maybe you doodle them.
Maybe you play with planting panting “p”s in perfectly predictable places. It gives you an inner giggle.
Maybe when you see someone unusual – a woman who doesn’t know she’s drooling clutches a copy of OK magazine to her chest as she shuffles down the sidewalk – you create in your head who she is, what she wants, where she’s going. It amuses you to do this.
You find yourself anthropomorphizing everything. That house stands squat and bored. The tree’s fingers flutter a greeting to a cranky crow. Rocks, animals, jewelry all have personality and a redolent power to you. It’s the power of potential story. This entertains you.
Sometimes you find yourself wishing everyone would just shut up and leave you alone so you could focus on this new world you’re creating.
Here’s the thing
You don’t even have to put it on paper for me to know you’re a writer.
You are lots of other things also.
Maybe you’re somebody’s child (most of us are), or somebody’s mom or dad. Or a brother or sister or friend. Maybe you solve puzzles or fix broken things. Maybe you are a musician or an actor. A doctor. Maybe you’re a leader (an orchestrator). Maybe you’re an astronaut! If you think like one, then you are one, even if you’ve never had any training and have never even gone up in an airplane.
All these other parts of you color who you are and will color your writing. And being a writer will color the other parts, too. That’s just the way it is.
Are you a writer who writes?
Do you have ambition to shine the light on that part of you who writes? Will you let someone else know about it? Write down your stories, tell them to friends? You don’t have to. You can keep your stories inside, a little treasure of who you are that no one else suspects is there.
Some people say, “Use it or lose it.” I don’t think that’s true with writing. The writer in you can go into hiding, though, so you forget that it amuses you to play with words or look at the world as a story waiting to be told.
And you might not get any better if you don’t work at it. By better I mean the craft of writing, the way a story enfolds to keep someone else riveted.
But you will always have the writer in you, because it’s part of you.
Here’s my guess: if you were ever captured and stuck in a horrid cell, solitary and cold and starving, you would have story to keep you sane. If you’re a writer.