I’m a Writer, not a Writer

Painting of Russian writer Evgeny Chirikov by Ivan Kulikov, 1904.


If you spend enough time around writers, you’ll certainly notice that they care a great deal about words, word-smithing, language, grammar, and all sorts of topics concerning “writing well.” You’ll encounter the aspiring Hemingways and Burkowskis. You know the type: always looking at every sentence like it’s a line of poetry. These writers will spend a great deal of time and energy finding the right word, even using a thesaurus, for every occasion. For them, there is a very strict set of self-imposed rules (and some very externally-imposed rules).

I admire these folks and often try to emulate them. In fact, as I write this post, I find myself tempted to employ much of that craftsmanship and artistry to my writing. However, I’ve realized over the years that I’m far more interested in telling stories over creating fine writing. I prefer to use plain language, as it fits, over a robust vocabulary because I’m more interested in bringing you, the reader, into the story.

Do I avoid big words? Do I shy away from complicated subjects? Do I “dumb it down?” No. Absolutely, no. But, I’m letting go of being a writer so that I can be a writer of stories. I don’t need to be some kind of literary genius, I just want to tell a story. And I want it to come from deep inside me. Big words and complicated subjects are a part of me and they come out naturally. But being a master craftsman of words is no longer a priority for me.

How about you? As a reader, do you prefer finely crafted writing, or approachable, simpler writing? As a writer, which do you prefer?

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