Monday, March 26, 2012

What Makes a Writer

What makes one a writer?
Have you ever wondered what it is that a writer does that defines them as a writer? I have. I'm a carpenter, or should I rather say, I do woodwork to earn a living, but does that make me a carpenter? working with wood is just something I do, it doesn't come to me easily, it just comes. Writing on the other hand doesn't come to me in the same way carpentry does, I understand woodwork in my inner being, Writing I need to think about, I need to think about how to get an image across through the use of words, as opposed to something tangible like a sculpture or a photograph. I've heard it said that a picture can paint a thousand words, this may be true but it has been my experience that words paint thousands of different pictures. Let me give you an example. Here's a simple sentence, what do you see when you read these words?

"She sat on the bench looking at the letter in her hand, head bowed, shoulders shaking and tears running down her cheeks."

See what I mean. What does she look like? Is she old, is she wearing a coat? Let me flesh it out a little.

"Those who hurried past had no idea that the young girl, wearing the simple summer frock, had just read the funniest description of an elephant she had ever seen."

See how the picture changes?
So my question remains, "What makes a writer?" How does a good writer flesh out their writing to paint pictures for their readers? I'm not talking about telling a story, that's a different subject all together. Stories have themes and beginnings, content and endings, usually told with the intent of fostering an awareness of a particular moral or to give hope to the reader who may be struggling with finding an antidote to the emptiness of daily existence. I'm talking about the picture each and every sentence convey's.
I'm a carpenter, I'm also good with words. Does that make me a writer too.
Let me know what you feel makes for good writing skills. Yes, I know this is a subject that has been raging for centuries and has been addressed by some of the best literary minds of all time, but I would be interested to know what you think.

Thomas had recently returned from a wintry Paris where he had gone to give a lecture about teaching English to African students. One evening he had been invited by his host to see a circus performances and had so enjoyed himself that he could hardly wait to tell her about it. He had written to Emily every day since his departure, not wanting her to feel left out while she waited patiently for his return.


  1. you are invited to follow my blog

  2. I’ve been following and enjoying your blog for a while now (one of your first actually) and would like to invite you to visit and perhaps follow me back. Sorry I took so long for the invitation

  3. What makes a writer is a good question. I'm not what I consider to be a good writer, but I do enjoy writing about what's going on in my life. If a person can successfully convey what is in their thoughts, whether is comes easy or after much laboring, that is a writer; whether a child or a University professor.

  4. I think you are right and yet wrong. A writer is a story teller no matter what he writes. You have to be able to make your reader SEE what you see and FEEL what you feel.
    If those two things are absent in writing then it becomes boring and no one will finish it.

  5. Stan, sorry. I thought I was following, got you mixed up with someone else. Now I'm following. Thanks for the reminder, Geoff.
    Becky Jane hi.
    I'm more like a child, never even thought about writing till I started this blog. One thing I have found is that despite my ineptitude when it comes to punctuation and the finer details of writing, I really do enjoy putting into words what I'm thinking about. It's pretty exciting for me. There is still so much for me to explore and learn.
    Thanks for your input. Bless you, Geoff.
    Melynda hi.
    Yes and no? Crazy woman :)
    Yeah, writing is story telling, well it's certainly not just a long recitation of facts which would bore most people to tears. It's how you describe each aspect of the story that intrigues me. The picture can change with a simple comma and take on a whole different meaning. I'm loving it. Now to write a real story with all the emotion and color. :)
    Thanks for your input and insights, Geoff.

  6. Hi Geoff,
    I am the worst writer ever. I cannot get the pictures I see into words. There is too much detail and I lose my way almost every time. So, if I had something to add here I would say a good writer is someone who can take the picture in their mind, full of colour, emotions and detail, and transfer it into words.

    Blessings brother,

  7. Child of God, Hi.
    I'm inclined to be a bit like you, I also get lost in the details. Oh well, maybe we should just leave more to the imagination? :)
    Blessings on your writing always, Geoff.

  8. I love words. I love writing. What I'm not so good at is plotting novels so am I a writer or a lover of words? I like to call myself a writer because I've been fortunate enough to get my work published but others may disagree. I'd love to be able to work with wood. I'd love to be a carpenter.

  9. Rosalind hi, you make me laugh.
    Work with wood, everyone can, it just depends on whether you want to get paid for you efforts or not. I'm paid to do this. I'm not paid to write though.
    Yeah, I know what you mean about loving words, I do too. Never been published though. Are you a writer? Well have you ever been paid to write?
    Bless you girl and thanks for the comment, Geoff.

  10. About working with wood: As a kid, I had seen my brothers build things, so I grabbed a hand saw and had a go with it. Struggled and struggled, pushed down on that puppy, got it jammed in the wood, just fought it like crazy... my brother said, "Joy, let the SAW do the work!" Best advice ever.

    I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers written down. ;)

  11. Joy, ha, ha, ha. Good advice indeed. Good luck with the book, when do you intend publishing? :)

  12. Just kidding on the book thing. I read that quote somewhere and thought it funny. No, no books in my future as far as I know. Wouldn't be able to keep anyone interested.