Are You a Writer or an Author? Does it Matter?

I could just say that it’s a trivial issue and let it go at that. But, like many trivial topics, it keeps popping up, and people even argue over it. A while back, I read someone’s attempt to redefine both words, and I got the very clear impression that it was more a matter of ego than practicality. Why? Because they defined a writer as someone who churns out words for money, and an author as a creator. Oh really? Authors don’t write for money? And being an author doesn’t require one to write? If you write, you’re a writer. Whatever else you want to attach to that word should be descriptive. This particular effort is descriptive only of the writer/blogger’s need to feel superior to mere scribblers who write in order to make a living, and therefore can’t possibly be creative.

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7 thoughts on “Are You a Writer or an Author? Does it Matter?

  1. In my mind the word “author” means you’re being paid for what you do. All authors are writers, but not all writers are authors. I think. It’s all an issue of semantics really.

  2. Well, the two words are generally speaking, mostly pseudonyms.
    But that said, “author” can technically mean a creator of anything, not just written things. Writing related, I’ve heard “writer” used as someone who writes with no implication of what, to what purpose or if it is professional, whereas “author” has been used to describe someone who has written a published book. Michel Foucault seems to have discussed it and said something to that effect (mind you, I only have this information from Wikipedia).
    In some languages (my native one included), there is only one word for the two, so it leads me to think that they are really interchangeable most of the time.

    1. Aargh! WordPress slipped on sending me notices of new comments. First time it’s happened.

      Anyway. They really are interchangeable for most purposes. I think author has come, for some people, to mean something superior to being *merely* a writer. There’s always been a good deal of snobbery in the world of writing. SF writers have suffered from it, and there’s been a general looking-down-the-nose at *genre*, as if literary fiction isn’t just one genre among many.

  3. Language evolves. The word author originates from a word meaning creator and it is generally accepted that a writer writes and an author creates. Anyone and everyone writes and if you have written anything you have therefore created a piece of work that can be read of which you are the author.
    As M Howalt says, it is a question of semantics. One can be the author of many things. Now, to be a published author/writer – that is a different matter entirely.

  4. Bea, I’m not so sure that it’s a generally accepted idea that writers write and authors create. I’ve been an avid reader all my life, starting with mostly the classics. I’ve also been aware of currents in the world of literature, though less and less interested as I get older. But with six decades behind me, this was the first time I’d seen such an idea.

  5. I am familiar with author being used as a creator, as it calls God “the author and finisher of our faith” in the Bible, or the one who created and perfected our faith. In the literary sense, I’ve heard the distinction made between an author and a writer, with it being said that anyone who writes is a writer, but someone who is published or has work available to be read by others is an author. I call myself a writer and not an author, as I have nothing to go on a book: “She is the author of Blah Blah Blah…” It doesn’t bother me either way.

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