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7 Scrivener Definition Alternatives for Authors Only

To be honest with you, only us whacked-out authors and wannabe writers would be interested in a scrivener definition, let alone a history of the word.

That being said, I am that whacked-out author, so ... here we go...​

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As Jeff Goins so eloquently puts it, and if you’re here this is most likely true, congratulations, [easyazon_link identifier=”0990378500″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”sv-001-20″ cart=”y” cloak=”n” localize=”y” popups=”n”]You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One).[/easyazon_link]

Even so, why would anyone care?

Could it be that authors like Jeff Goins and Joanna Penn know something you don't? Some secret clue about what it takes to be a so-called professional writer? Not just an aspirer on the sidelines, but a grizzled veteran that's “in the game.”

If you long to be a writer, this article will delve into the underlying reason behind every author's calling to put pen to paper or pound​ fingers on a keyboard. Answering the age-old question all authors should ask themselves before they commit to the writing life.

That question is, “Why do I want to write?”

And we'll do that by exploring a term that's near and dear to my heart, scrivener. Maybe get a better interpretation of what it means to be a “professional” writer.

1. Scrivener Definition: What is a scrivener, anyway?

Let's get the clinical stuff out of the way first. You see, Scrivener isn't just the world's best book writing software, it's also a characterization of a group of people. And the term has been around for a long time.

The word scrivener has two mainstream meanings, paraphrased as:

  1. A professional writer
  2. A notary public

I don't know about you, but that doesn't even scratch the surface of why I wanted to become an author. A bit too … formal.

Not to mention that whenever I hear the word “professional” I get this skeptical, imposter-syndrome feeling in my gut.

And I've seen the “glamorous” lives of notary​ publics. Notaries have that big book and that stamp… Looks boring … and government-scary.

If you're executing a real estate transaction, signing legal documents, or proving your identity, a notary verifies your ID, makes you sign your name, and slams that stamp in their book. SMACK!

Far from what most of us aspired to when we dreamt of writing stories or creating books. The job entails precious little romance, mystery, or creativity.

So let's dig further. Or is that farther? Hmmm...

2. The Wiktionary definition gets it right.

Say what you will about crowdsourcing a dictionary, the Wiktionary page actually gets it right. About halfway down the page, lies the crux of why many of us aspire to write.

Wiktionary defines a scrivener as...

1. A professional writer; one whose occupation is to draw contracts or prepare writings.
2. (obsolete) One whose business is to place money at interest; a broker.

Number 3 is so close to perfection... After all, what's an author but a master of writing?

Yet with a personal goal set to master anything, true masters know that they're never finished being students. They don't gloss over a subject, they dive into it with reckless abandon, devouring any and all information available. And then they create new information and understanding for others to follow.

True masters learn, and then they teach, and then they learn again, repeating the process over and over in a cycle. There is no finish line. No attainment of completion.

If this is your motivation to write, bravo! If not, maybe this next scrivener definition hit's closer to home.

3. Scriveners, defenders of literacy!

According to Wikipedia:

a scrivener (or scribe) was a person who could read and write...
...scriveners remain common in countries where literacy rates remain low; they read letters for illiterate customers, as well as write letters or fill out forms for a fee. ... in areas with very high literacy rates, they are almost non-existent.

So, perhaps in some less educated societies, scriveners were and may remain more literate than their fellow citizens. As such, they take on the responsibility of educating and informing others through the interpretation of the written word.

Hmmm... I can live with that.​

So, what's next?​

4. Who the hell is Bartleby, the Scrivener?

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If you search the Internet for the word “scrivener,” you’re bound to come across something you may or may not recognize. It’s a short story written by Herman Melville, after he wrote [easyazon_link identifier=”1853260088″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”sv-001-20″ cart=”y” cloak=”n” localize=”y” popups=”y”]Moby Dick[/easyazon_link], called [easyazon_link identifier=”1617206881″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”sv-001-20″ cart=”y” cloak=”n” localize=”y” popups=”y”]Bartleby, The Scrivener.[/easyazon_link]

After Moby Dick, Melville became obsessed with writing about the impossibility of communication between human beings.​ An ironic theme for an author to take on.

Here's why you should care.

Maybe it was that fame and fortune eluded Melville until after his death, but the story of Bartleby is really the story of our struggle as authors. The struggle to​ accept or reject the corporate cog-in-the-machine lifestyle that we've been told is “normal.”

Should we follow our dreams or should we succumb to the accepted view of employment.​


​The story doesn't end well for [easyazon_link identifier="1617206881" locale="US" nw="y" nf="y" tag="sv-001-20" cart="y" cloak="n" localize="y" popups="y"]Bartleby[/easyazon_link]. He pretends to be a diligent employee in the beginning, only to fight against being a no one in a business he could care less about. Eventually, he succumbs to apathy and indifference to the point that it kills him.

And therein lies the lesson for us as authors. Though you may pretend to be anything but the writer/author you most certainly are, your soul will slowly wither. That is, unless you realize that in writing you'll find your salvation.

You've been warned...​

5. The Urban Dictionary definition is full of...

Occasionally, we authors can get a little "full of ourselves." So much time spent learning vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure and the like... A more crass person than myself might call us “full of shit.” But hey, that's not me...

Regardless, be careful not to develop an inflated sense of worth by your constant study and implementation of language. (uh oh, that was dangerously close)

In fact, the Urban Dictionary has a tongue-in-cheek definition for us “scriveners.” It's not flattering.

Something along the lines of...

...excessive sense of worth or exaggerated decorum

Ouch... Double bonus points, however, for the use of the $50 word, “decorum.”

So, always be mindful that you use your Jedi scrivener powers for good and not evil...​

6. One scrivener's statement of meaning.

While researching this article, I came across that phrase. “Statement of Meaning” is a synonym for “definition.” It stuck out at me like the poster child for why I write.

Because once we “scriveners” get past our illusions and delusions about what the writing life is going to be like, it's our own personal statement of meaning that will keep us going.

Finding meaning in the world and the events that happen each day. Human beings have been trying to do that since they became self-aware. Simply put, we write to make sense of the world.

Fiction writers do it covertly, embedding themes and opinions and perspectives in their stories. And the masters do it with such subtlety and buried so deeply that you don't even realize your perspective has been influenced.

Non-fiction writers convey understanding and expertise more directly. They attain meaning through the transfer of knowledge.

Before I wrote this article, I couldn't quite put my finger on it. But my statement of meaning—the real why of why I write—has to be "To be understood and help others understand.”

If I'm being honest about it, it's about 60/40 the first to the second. and to be a little more honest with you, I just love all this stuff!

Writing, technology, storytelling, blending art with communication… Everything that's a creative and communicative​ collision. Chaos, my favorite!

7. You need to find your SOM.

If you hope to survive the tough times of being a scrivener, you'll develop your own code, your statement of meaning. Define why you write, for yourself at the very least.

The reasons we write are as varied and as personal ​as there are authors and opinions. But one thing about us remains the same.

Writing is how we express ourselves and how we communicate our truth to the world. As scriveners we are seekers, masters, students​, philosophers, and sometimes we can be arrogant asses if we're not careful.

But one thing binds us all together as brothers and sisters.

We love to write.​ So much so that the ultimate reason may not even matter.

Now it's your turn.

So, what's your statement of meaning? Why are you a scrivener? Because that one declaration will influence all of your career as a writer.

Give us your best statement of meaning in the comments below.​

Mike Thompson

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