There are different types of writers. They have different motivations, are at different places in their writing journey, and have different goals. Here are five common scenarios:
1. The Aspiring Writer: I’ve heard many people refer to themselves as aspiring writers. But they’re misusing the label. They say aspiring because at this point in their journey they lack the confidence to say they’re a writer, so they qualify it by tacking on aspiring.
If this characterization describes you, I encourage you to take a deep breath, drop aspiring, and instead say, “I am a writer.” State it with boldness. It will take practice to say with confidence, but you can do it. You are a writer.
In truth, an aspiring writer is someone who doesn’t write; they aspire to write—someday. But they’ll never get around to it. Yes, they act as a writer. They read books on writing, go to writing conferences, and hang out with other writers. They talk a good game, but it’s just talking.
They want to have written, but they don’t want to put in the hard work, to sit down and write. They aspire to write, and it ends there.
Don’t be someone who aspires to write. Just write.
2. The Hobbyist Writer: Next, we have people who write for fun, write for therapy, or write for family and friends. They’re hobbyists. There’s nothing wrong with that.
So if a hobbyist writer accurately describes you, accept it. As a hobbyist, you may not publish much and certainly won’t make much money from your work, but you are writing. And that’s what’s important. Own that label, and celebrate it.
But if you want to realize more from your writing, consider moving beyond being a hobbyist.
3. The Passion Project Writer: Some writers have a book they must write. It’s a compulsion, a calling. They work hard to produce the best book they can. Then they indie publish it. Then they spend years promoting and marketing their book.
This book is their passion.
But it may be the only book they ever write. Or if they do write other books, these works may fall short because the passion isn’t there. And it shows.
There’s nothing wrong with having a passion project or being a one-book author. I know many people who wrote one book, and that’s it. That’s okay. But if you want more, consider the next two categories of writers.
4. The Artist Writer: I know many writers who view themselves as artists. They create wonderful work and produce it regularly. But they only write when the muse hits or when they have a deadline. If they don’t feel like writing, they don’t. They’re often discovery writers (pantsers). Writing speed and output frequency doesn’t matter. They’re artists, and producing art is all they care about.
If the phrase starving artist comes to mind, it could fit this category of writer. They may not make much from their art, and it’s doubtful they’ll earn enough to support themselves. That’s why the artist-writer needs another source of income. This supplemental money could be a day job or a side hustle. It may be a spouse, an inheritance, or a generous patron.
If this is your situation, that’s okay. Accept it for who you are, what you want to be, and what works for you.
5. The Career Author: The fifth category is a career author. Although their words may flow from many different motivations, they have one trait in common: writing is their job, and they strive to make money from it, either full-time or part-time.
They haven’t sold out. They’re being intentional. They value the craft and may even view it as art. They also write with passion. But, in addition to art and passion, they write with purpose. They want to share their words with others and earn money as they do. They have an entrepreneurial mindset. They’re an authorpreneur.
My Journey: At various times in my writing journey I have stopped at four of these five writing destinations. Some of my stops have been brief, and others longer, but where I am now—and where I want to remain—is as a career author.
Right now, I make some of my income as a book author, and my goal is to one day earn all my income through books. But money is not my motivator; it’s the outcome. My desire is to share my words with others. As I often say, my goal is to “change the world one word at a time.” And making money from doing so is a sweet result.
Discover what type of writer you are and embrace it. Don’t let anyone tell you your path is wrong or inconsequential. You are a writer.
Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.