Mile 18: Author or Writer?

Mile 18 may not help you write your first Western, but it might help you when talking to friends. When I first started writing, I wasn’t sure what to call myself — writer, author or candlestick maker. Somehow, in my head, author seemed more “serious,” more “literary,” than I felt my writings were. Writer seemed, to me, to be a little more causal, maybe less pretentious.

I figured I’d check with the experts online to see what they thought. No shortage of explanations of the difference between writer and author, and no consistency between their definitions.

One site says that authors are self-oriented and writers are service-oriented. Even after reading the article, I still didn’t get it. Another site says a writer is anyone writing creative prose (stories, plays, essays, etc.), an author could write anything from training manuals to legal documents and a novelist writes novels.

A third site explains the difference this way: A writer is the one who actually writes the literary piece, and an author is the one who comes up with the idea, though they are frequently the same person.

Of course, you can look at the dictionary definition of both terms and get a completely different description. What I came to realize is that there is no set answer and that any of us who choose to write or, more specifically, choose to write novels, can pretty much call ourselves whatever we want — though novelist seems the closest and most specific, at least to me.

However, in the end, I am going with storyteller. It has a nice quant, folksy ring to it, keeps me from comparing myself to Steinbeck or Twain (a comparison that NEVER goes well) and is something I am comfortable calling myself. Of course, you might be more comfortable with author, writer, novelist, hobbyist or hack. In the end, what really matters is the writing, but finding a way to describe what you’re doing makes it a little easier when you’re discussing your work.

This is one subject I would really like to have your feedback on, especially of you’ll share which way you went on the burning issue. Thanks!

I wish you good writing, and if you have a question or something you’d like to share, send me an email at [email protected].

Thank you, enjoy and keep writing!




One Comment on “Mile 18: Author or Writer?

Jan Peter Blickenstaff
October 2, 2018 at 7:25 pm

Just a thought.
An author is a famous writer.
Writer and novelist are good descriptions for those that write for profit.
Story-teller is good description for those of us that tell windies.
I reserve the term Hack for those who write from the bottom of the political barrel.


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