A Writer Is . . .

By: Marilyn L. Davis


 I Became an Artist with Words

 “I almost always urge people to write in the first person. Writing is an act of ego and you might as well admit it.”—William Zinsser

Recently, Lisa Edwards wrote an article, “Writing Is . . .”, which made me think about all who practiced this craft called writing.  And then, I took Zinsser’s advice and brought the question back to myself.

I’ve written since I was a child. But like many children, I was afraid of criticism, so I kept the writings in diaries, journals and graduated to files on my computer.  Most of these are long gone, which is sad.

It is not sad that my opinions are missing, only that mine might help another see that theirs are valid. Or random words might encourage me to continue with the thought and research and explore it more fully with the online resources I have available today.

For it is those brief reflective passages or sudden bursts of insight and awareness that convey our thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Then if we are brave and publish them, there is the possibility that a reader will explore their feelings, thoughts, and opinions.

Early Artistic Inspiration

Each writer tries to convey their vision using words. I’m fortunate; I come from a family of artists, so growing up, I saw nothing transformed into something.

A tube of paint became a sky, a scrap of cloth became a quilt; pine cones became a topiary tree.

These early lessons in artistry were sometimes painful as I didn’t possess artist abilities. However, I do believe that I create art with wordsSound egotistical?  That is not my intention. I am simply following the advice of writers like Anne Lamott and William Zinsser.

The Joy of Writing

Many successful writers encourage us to build our sand castles, or listen to the clamoring voices in our heads and put the visions and voices to the page.

“You are lucky to be one of those people who wish to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won’t wash them away.

I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be.” ― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

two drops of ink marilyn l davis a writer is...

 Today, I profess that I am a writer because I …

  • Have a reasonable command of the English language, a working knowledge of how to structure a sentence, and can impart understood meanings to the words I write.
  • Pay attention to conversations. I listen to the subtle nuances of speech, the words of wisdom from unlikely sources, and I document them.
  • Care about creating narratives that describe our human conditions, those feelings and thoughts that we all have but seldom articulate in writing.
  • Want others to read my words, and I want to read theirs, the silent talking and visual listening of writing and reading.
  • Am curious and want to learn new things. Therefore, any topic becomes an education when I explore resources and find other posts on the topic. Then, I’ll add my spin.
  • Have made mistakes that cost me dearly, and I am willing to document them so that others do not have to make the same kinds of mistakes if they choose.
  • Want to influence other writers by encouraging them to use their voice by reading me in mine.
  • Make an effort to describe and make note of this moment, this feeling, this thought, this experience; not because they are unique, but because they are universal.
  • Have remorse for my behaviors in my addiction, but I  am willing to write about my self-serving motives to let another human being know they are not alone.
  • Changed my patterns in my recovery, and I am willing to show others how to do the same.
  • Like to connect with others in a way that sheds light on our problems and our solutions.
  • Am willing to remember, reflect, and record.

And You Are a Writer Because? 

I would like to hear what you think makes a writer.

  1. What attributes do you think a writer needs to have?
  2. Did you always write?
  3. Do you have rituals for your writing?
  4. What holds you back from writing more?
  5. Are you published? Is it self-publishing or traditional?
  6. Were you frustrated in finding a publisher?
  7. Did you use a literary agent?
  8. Do you have a niche?
  9. Do you need an additional platform for your writing?
  10. What is your favorite genre and why?
When we exchange advice about writing and then implement them, we all become better writers and communicators. Click To Tweet

two drops of ink marilyn l davis a writer is...

So, I’ll thank you in advance for your comments that will educate me about the art and craft of writing. 

When you’re ready to submit, we’re ready to read.


Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing






  1. 1. Courage, self reflection, and a sense of humor
    2. Since around age 14
    3. Usually in the morning. I meditate then write while drinking my coffee. I also say a quick prayer to the Muses for gratitude, vision, discernment, and inspiration (along with a pledge to do the work)
    4. Perfectionism (probably not good) and trying to maintain a work-life balance (good)
    5. Not yet
    6. See 5
    7. See 5
    8. Memoir writing with a spiritual and poetic inclination
    9.. haven’t thought about it. Blogging is new to me. I take writing classes here and there
    10. Historical nonfiction (brings something that “was” back into “is”) and memoirs (let’s me know what’s possible to do with language and story telling)

    • Hi, Donnie. Thanks for your comment and answers. We share some writing habits. I think when we take the time to find our similarities, we create connections, and then we can build collaborative partnerships. We met online, and you accepted the invitation to write, both here, and at From Addict 2 Advocate. So glad you did, and now I know more about your processing and what makes you, a writer. Again, thanks.

  2. Love this post! Love the questions too! Thank you for the idea for a blog post!! … in the mean time, I was a writer forever. My grandmother encouraged me by answering all my letters. My mother encouraged me because she wanted me to be famous … not sure if that will ever happen, but, Hey, Mom, I’m published, right?

    … one of the things I struggle with is letting things get in the way of my Creation of Raw Material, the invention of color, emotion, thoughts, atmosphere, descriptions of people, animals, crazy (sometimes ugly) thoughts and dreams that come to me … And when I do that I create a Writers Block that is covered in Guilt. As if my writing were a shameful pass time and a waste of resources … but this is illogical – –

    I have written columns that created explosions in the community, I have written investigative pieces that have changed a community’s mind, I have opened doors for other people to express themselves and shared others lives with the community for the benefit of both. I keep having to silence that demon that is trying to silence me.

    I am a writer. If I don’t write, I can’t breathe or think or reason. To silence my pen is to silence my life.

    • Hi, Rachel. Do not go silent. Well, didn’t that just sound bossy. However, I know you will take it in the correct way – passionate encouragement to keep penning the prose, stimulating the thinking, showing people that there are other ways, etc. etc. etc. (I’ll let your creative side decide what the etceteras are that you can write about; she smiles.

  3. Hi, I’m Caitlin and I’m a writer! I followed your link over from the writing group. Great thoughts… I especially love #8. For me, some of the things I think make a great writer are not only the ability to understand the English language, but to weild it into something beautiful. Words are powerful, and being able to make someone feel something with only strings of letters is hard but incredible! I also think a writer needs to be willing to be vulnerable – to share an idea or feeling that is deep and personal – to make a reader cry or laugh, and believe that these characters could actually exist out there somewhere. The #1 attribute a writer must have is perseverance. Rejection is inevitable and the doubt can become overwhelming, but you can’t give up. As to myself, in answer to the questions, I write YA sci-fi and fantasy novels and children’s picture books (although my focus is novels). I am not published yet… I am currently seeking agent representation for my second novel and writing my third. I started my first serious novel when I was 12 and finished two years later (that one is tucked away forever haha). But I’ve always been writing in one form or another, as long as I can remember. I have a blog at my website http://www.caitlinlambert.com, and you can find a link to my author Facebook page over there as well, plus some info about me and my books! Thanks for having me! 🙂

    • Hi, Caitlin. Wow. I appreciate all the writing you did in your comment. She smiles.

      We’re practically neighbors. You’re in NC and Scott and I are in GA. I like the energy of your site – seems inviting for YA. I wish you success on your second novel and hope you find representation for your third. And just in case you have some time, think about writing a guest post for us about YA or anything else that appeals.

      Again, thank you for such a detailed comment. It was fun getting to know a little about you through it.

  4. I love the post, and Good questions ☺
    My name is Amanda DeJong and I too am a writer.
    * Attributes of a writer, in my opinion would simply be someone who is capable of expressing themselves through readable words.

    *Considering Yourself a Writer: This one I had a hard time with… I am a writer because I utilize the tools it takes to record my thoughts and ideas. Stating that I am an “author” is something that I struggle with. I wrote my first children’s chapter book and self published it through Amazon for friends and family and then thought: I would now like to be “traditionally published.” I wrote the second in the series, and am now working on a different Middle Grade book and I want nothing more than to find a Literary Agent to take me on. But when someone asks: “Are you a Published Author?” I stammer… Yes, I suppose I am, but for some reason I feel like because my book did not go through a publishing house that I am somehow an impostor… (I don’t feel this way for other people I encounter, just me.)

    *I have written from the time I was able to hold a pencil and type on a computer!

    *No ritual here. I have two children (Plus a husband and a dog) that demand a lot of attention, so I try to carve out time, and when that doesn’t work, I find myself sneaking away to my computer to jot down ideas in between food, showers, naps, and bathroom breaks. Lol, I would love to say that I have a special time set aside that I utilize on a daily basis. Lower the lights, turn on classical music, make a cup of hot chocolate, stretch, put my glasses on, take a deep breath and say 10 Hail Marys, as I set my fingers to the keyboard and write like the Devil… Unfortunately, I just take what I can get!

    The items that hold me back include:
    -Finding the time to be uninterrupted (I just try to work around it)
    -The fear of once the project is finished, I actually have to send it off and face what comes!

    *Am I published… I have articles published both online and in print editions of two magazines, and I have a self-published ebook available. So yes, I am technically published, but I want to be “Traditionally” published and find myself a little Literary Agent to call my very own!
    With regard to my BOOKS
    I write Early Reader/Middle Grade & Young Adult
    In the Mystery & Paranormal Mystery genre.

    • Hi, Amanda. I’ll echo Scott, thank you for such an informative comment. I love the “Lower the lights, turn on classical music, make a cup of hot chocolate, stretch, put my glasses on, take a deep breath and say 10 Hail Marys, as I set my fingers to the keyboard and write like the Devil… Unfortunately, I just take what I can get!” Kindred spirits here.

      You sound like you’ve used those stolen moments wisely. Lecture; Never stammer again when someone asks if you’re a published author – I believe you qualify.

      Again, thank you for answering the questions and I do have one more for you. When can we expect you to submit to Two Drops of Ink? She smiles.

  5. I have written in journals for years. Depression, the real estate bust of 2010, loss of a loved one and loss of my freedom due to chronic illness is morfing me back to writing.

    Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis the week after my birthday in 2015 I got sucked into a rabbit hole of self pitty. Health-care is an oxymoron. Engaging my mind and formulating my thoughts in an orderly fashion is doing volumes for lightening the emotional load. to writing

    • Hi, Katina. I’m sorry about your health issues. I know they can weigh us down. I’d encourage you to keep writing though. It’s cathartic.

  6. Well, for me it’s not easy to explain but I’ll try. I love to write Its more of a feeling its something I must do. My name is Joshua, I was reading through one of Blake Ross post on Facebook when I came across an article called “Aphantasia”.
    I quickly realized that I related to the symptoms. I suffered a severe head trauma caused by a blow from a wooden baseball bat to the back of the head when I was around 10 yrs. old. I was pretending to be the great catcher “Johnny Bench” at the time of the accident happened. I have been ignored by doctors all my life none of them even seeming to care in the least bit what happened or how I still suffer. The group of boys I was playing with never notified anyone of the accident and it was kept a secret among the group. Three of the boys involved including the boy that struck me had to walk me home to show me where I lived. I couldn’t remember who I was or, what had happened they just pointed at my house from the road telling me over and over “that’s where you live”. This accident caused me to go from a nearly straight A student to a failing student overnight. Not being able to complete or remember practically any future assignments with the exception of one middle school test involving recalling over a hundred human bones. I still don’t quite understand how I was able to accomplish a perfect score. I was now disabled and incapable of completing school so I gave up on trying to be able to remember the curriculum and dropped out in ninth grade. No one recognized it wasn’t my fault that I couldn’t remember things and for many years and out of fear of losing what I considered my best friend I kept what happened to me a secret hidden from the public up until a couple of months ago. This Tragedy ruined my chance at a good education and a normal life not being able to complete ninth grade. Everyday life became more difficult as time went on. I have slowly regained some of my memory but still to this day I struggle. Every doctor I’ve told since has ignored me when I told them that I had a head trauma and suffer from memory loss and headaches. The head injury has never been examined by doctors just ignored despite me begging doctors to look into x-rays and MRI’s. I’m 37 now blind in one eye, high blood pressure, COPD, also subacromial bursitis in my left arm that when X-rays were taken revealed a side view of the skull showing what I believe to be the severity of the head trauma. This accident led me into a life of poverty that prompted me to start writing books fiction and non-fiction. Upon examining myself I noticed that when I close my eyes to visualize a picture or anything I see nothing just black no matter how hard I try I can’t do it. For example if read a book I cannot see any kind of mental imagery whatsoever the exception is when I’m in a subconscious state I’ll have a very rare dream or as I like to call them “visions”. So shamelessly I write on using the concepts and the memmory I have. I’m a disabled writer with interest from a prominent literary agent in getting a publishing deal and hopefully the possibility of a lifetime movie for my first book which is approximately a 40,000 word count memoir. The complication I’m having is that my agent does not have the time or resources to help with a proposal and thorough editing. I am looking for a preferably published reputable author/editor who knows the business well and who also would be willing to work for a share in the royalties as I have no money to offer up front. I am eager to make the necessary changes to the manuscript to take it to the next level! “A writer is to me the exsisting proof of expressive positive or negative energy”…irreguardless of his or her capibilites.

    • Hi, magicallazarus. First, I am sorry about your physical limitations. I’m sure that makes writing and other activities difficult. But it sounds like you have been able to overcome many of them and write. I would just encourage you to keep that up and actively look for publishers that might offer assistance to someone that has a pronounced limitation, and I would suspect that eye problems would qualify since you are a writer.

      • Hi Marilyn, Thank you for your condolences, encouragement, and advice. I certainly will continue writing on keeping faith along with an unwavering determination to overcome obstacles and hopefully accomplish many great works in my lifetime.

  7. After reading this, I think I would consider myself a writer. Never thought that until I got the notion to start a blog and actually put my thoughts into words. Self-discovery has been an interesting journey for me. Thanks for sharing.

    • Good morning, Laurie; thank you for commenting. Self-discovery is such a part of the process for writers. It’s what makes our words, thoughts and feelings distinctive. Yet, when we find the common truths, our choice and voice resonate for others. It’s a wonderful life to quote Jimmy Stewart. Again, thank you for commenting and we hope you’ll find other information here that helps you as a writer.

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