Anyone can be a writer: Yes or No?
I think yes. All it takes is the ability to string words together to create sentences, one after the other. Perhaps some folks are naturally more skilled at storytelling. Some may have a better command of grammar. But you've probably heard that the only requirement of being a writer is that you write, and I believe that to be true.
The thing that irks me is the "writers" I see playing house. They begin writing a novel, or novella, short story, poem, whatever, and then they hear through the grapevine that having an author platform is the key to success. Well, no, it isn't. The key to success as a writer is writing and practicing your craft and ultimately writing a great story. However, it gets inside emerging writers' heads that they must blog, tweet and grow a fan base on at least one social media platform. They crave traffic on their blogs, so they find other writers and have them guest blog and interview them. They even post excerpts of their work and sometimes others' work. What they are doing is playing the part of a published writer. What they are not doing is dedicating the kind of time to their writing that it takes to complete a final draft that will get the attention of an editor or agent.
I think getting a head start on building a social media identity if a great idea. A head start is never a bad thing. But if you're spending more time blogging, tweeting, and the like, than you are on your work in progress, something is wrong. Maybe you only want to blog. Some do and that's fine. They aspire to be bloggers, which falls under the category of being a writer. Maybe you want to write a novel, though. In that case, stop pretending to be a writer and write.
I constantly see people get sucked into social networking and my pants would burst into flames if I said I'm not guilty of it. It's fun to blog hop, write articles about the craft, and spend time making connections with other aspiring writers. At some point, though, you can't keep your credibility up if you aren't working toward publication and to be blunt, getting closer to it. As a writer who constantly studies the craft, I have no time to waste reading blogs of unpublished writers handing out advice on writing. I go after how-to books written by published writers, I attend workshops taught by published writers, and I read books written by published writers and do my own analysis of them.
I know what you're thinking...I'm an unpublished writer and my blog is centered around teaching others the craft and sharing my journey. So yeah, I'm unpublished but I have a journey. I'm not running in place. I'm getting somewhere. I can offer others advice that will help them prevent making the mistakes I have.
And guess what? My blog doesn't have a huge following and I don't post very often. You know why? I don't have the time or energy to post daily because I'm busy writing. When I stop by the blogs of writers who have been published or have recently signed a contract, I see they also are sporadic in their posts.
A final thought: if you find yourself constantly checking your e-mails, following up on tweets and spending more time writing blog posts than writing your novel...it's very possible that you're missing out on inspiration for your writing. The best inspiration comes from watching life unfold around you.