There seems to be an ongoing discussion of what qualifies an individual to be considered a writer. Any person that pounds out words on a computer is writing, but does that actually constitute a writer?

Webster’s Dictionary defines a writer as “one who performs the act of writing, a professional scribe, an author.” Random House Unabridged Dictionary describes a writer as “a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist.” These definitions are vague at best, suggesting that just about anyone can call himself a writer.

I haven’t written a book, but my articles have frequently appeared in newspaper columns and several magazines for over 40 years. I’ve developed brochures and marketing material, written many speeches, taught writing classes to both adults and children and edited countless manuscripts. I am a professional writer.

What exactly defines a writer? In my opinion, individuals with an unrelenting passion and aspiration to see their words in print, who continually strive to improve and sharpen their writing skills, are writers. Writing is an art that needs to be honed. It is an attitude that must be cultivated and developed, as well as an existence that must continue to expand.

The expressive craft of building meaning through words, writing requires expertise and command of the use of language. Mastering this skill is a never-ending process of change and transformation.

For many people, becoming a writer begins as an ambition and far-reaching desire, or as a flicker of inspiration. Some writers are gifted with natural talent from the start, having the knack for composing words that flow beautifully and naturally. Others must persevere and work very hard to advance and polish their skills on a daily basis.

So, I ask again, what qualifies an individual to be a writer? If a person truly desires to write and takes the necessary steps toward fulfilling that reality, if she never stops being tenacious, enthusiastic and passionate about her work, if she never gives up, then that individual is most certainly a writer.