Monday, March 28, 2016

Authors vs Writers

Some of you may say that it's only the articles that preceded the words. Some of you may say they are totally and completely different words with different meanings. As I pondered this, I thought, 'Well, surely an author must be published. A writer only strives to publish.' I count myself as a writer and only dream of having the right to call myself an author. As I defined each word, I found there wasn't very much of a difference, yet it feels like a whole sea separates authors and writers. 

An author is a writer of a book, article or report as a profession, while a writer is a person who writes books, stories or articles as a job or regular occupation. 

I figured there must be a difference between profession and job, with a job being of lesser importance. A job is simply a paid position of regular employment and profession is a paid occupation, with occupation being a job or profession. A profession can also be an occupation that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification, but so few of us writers and published authors have formal training.

For those of you who enjoy definitions, an author is also an originator or creator of a plan or idea, which sounds much more interesting and empowering.  It makes authors seem like they're way out of our unpublished writers league. 

Besides an author having a much more interesting and intricate definition than a writer, there isn't much that separates us. Yet, so many of us have decided, or resigned to believe that being an author must mean that you have published your works. If I've ever used the word author to describe myself, the first thing I hear is, 'Oh, how many books have you published? What're they called?' Then I have to say, 'Well, no. I'm just a writer hoping to publish something amazing, someday.' Though, I sometimes get those questions too when I start with saying I'm a writer, but far less often than if I say I'm an author. I've just resigned to classifying myself as just a writer. 

This is yet another example of how we've lost the true meaning or intended meaning of certain words, if not all words. Definitions are very intricate, even though they've been shortened to single words or short phrases for convenience. I always wonder if it used to be like the movies in the 1800s where people spoke so formally, using the definition of a word to express themselves or their thoughts, rather than just a word. Sometimes I believe I was born in the wrong century, if it really was like that. 

My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, mostly because I love the style in which it was written. It's also a perfect example of what language used to be, back in 1813. 

"But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she hardly had a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. To this discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying. Though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness." - Jane Austen

We don't talk like that anymore. At least, not without excruciating thought, pre-planning and editing. I would like to think words were meant for so much more than what they have been reduced to. 

Happy reading and writing, friends! Take a moment to share your thoughts, and tweet at @TresaWriter.


  1. I suppose the simple answer is that a writer is anyone who writes anything from an original work, to an essay, to a letter to a friend. An author is a writer, but falls into a smaller section of the definition of writer who creates original works.

    I don't believe an author requires publication to be an author, but there should be something that makes the work unique and tied specifically to that author. Obviously being published is a great way to prove that.

    Great post, made me think.

    Wuthering Heights is my favorite book, partly for its beautiful language, but more so for the unending pursuit of a lover's heart.

    Heathcliff shows me, a hopeless romantic, how important the pursuit of love is, and in an age where it seems like men have lost their ability to romance, he reminds us all what love's true passion should inspire our hearts to do.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment! Glad you enjoyed the post.

      I agree that an author is definitely a subcategory of writer, and that author deserves something that sets them apart from just your standard writer. I suppose that would be where the 'published' comes before the author or writer.

      Thanks for weighing in!