Whenever someone asks me what I do, I always say the same thing: “I’m a writer.” It’s what we all say.
It’s a simple statement, the typical one-word description of who we are and what we do. But for me, the word “writer,” by itself, just doesn’t do it justice.
I looked up the dictionary definition of a writer. The one that seemed closest to what we do was this: “A person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation.” True? Yes. Basically, to the rest of the world, what we do? Yes.
But it still doesn’t do it justice. Why?
Because we’re much more than writers.
More Than Writers
We’re more than transcribers or words processors. For the most passionate among us, we are way more than people who do it simply as a “job or regular occupation.” No. We live and breathe and taste and smell and feel every one of those words. Each syllable is a piece of our soul, our very personalities poured onto pages.
As a fiction writer, I know personally that writing stories is more than, well, writing stories. In fact, I would sooner liken what I do to acting than writing. That’s right, we’re more than writers.
Writers Are Actors
Think about it: What do actors do? They have to become the character they are acting, live the part, identify with their role. The best actors who pull it off flawlessly get Oscars for being so believable, so relatable, so good at acting like someone they’re not. They are lauded for their ability to step out of their world and into another’s, and the ability to pull their watchers in with them.
Isn’t that what we do? Don’t we stand in front of mirrors, practicing our lines? Don’t we close our eyes and step into the world created at our fingertips, trying with everything we’ve got to become the character, and breathe so much life into them that our readers can practically see them? Aren’t we actors?
We are. The only difference (and I’d say it’s a big difference) between a writer and an actor is this: We’re playing all the parts.
We’re filling the shoes of every character, relating to each person, even if they’re completely different from one another. We hop from character to character, scene to scene, situation to situation. And we’ve got to pull it off well if we ever hope to succeed.
Writers Are More Than Actors
In movie production, there are more than just actors. And when we write, we’re playing more roles than simply acting.
We’re the director. We decide how many ‘takes’ are needed to get every scene right, positioning the characters and deciding where they’re going next.
We’re the screenwriters. We conceive the plot, and every one of the twists and turns that keep readers reading and watchers watching.
We’re the camera. We bring scenes to life with description that has to be as good as if we were seeing it through a lens.
We are even the editors. We piece together scenes and shots, cutting unnecessary ones, adding ones where needed.
Much More Than Writing a Story
You see, we aren’t just the ones writing the stories. We are the stories. We are solely responsible for bringing an alternate world into being, for creating a story, for crafting a masterpiece, and for filming our “movies.”
It’s a pretty intense “occupation.” But that’s why I say that it’s more than a one-word description, more than a title, more than we let on. Yes, we could just say “writer,” and walk away. But as someone who crafts pages and pages of countless words for our occupations, I think we can do a little better than one word, right? 😉
Do you play any other roles as a writer? Let me know in the comments.
Today, ditch the word “writer” and try one of these new titles instead. Take a scene from your work in progress, or imagine a new story about two young boys who discover a treasure, and write for fifteen minutes. Focus on being the actor, getting into the heads of all the characters, or the camera, describing scenes with vivid detail and drawing the reader/watcher in.
When you’re done, share your practice in the comments. And if you share, don’t forget to leave feedback for your fellow writers. Can you tell which title they chose to wear?