What makes a writer? The act of writing, of turning intangible thoughts into readable marks on paper or computer. One of the biggest problems with becoming a great writer–or a great skier or parent or piano player for that matter–is that there are so many writing-related things to keep one from writing. There are magazines on writing to subscribe to and read, books to be read, workshops to attend, ideas to be jotted, outlines to be made and material to be organized.
None of those things is writing. They are activities about writing, related to writing and preparation for writing. They can consume so much time that one doesn’t really write.
I know from experience.
Fenelon said to never confuse spiritual curiosity with spiritual commitment. An interest in writing doesn’t make one a writer any more than watching the Indianapolis 500 makes one a race car driver.
There is a certain freedom in knowing that one can have a great interest without being a participant. For years I was a very committed mountain biker, but as my priorities changed, I found myself riding less and less. There was no longer any pleasure for me in reading bicycle magazines or looking at new equipment at a bike shop. Sometimes I indulge a curiosity to skim a magazine or look at new bikes just to see how much the sport has changed, but I am no longer a true mountain biker.
If you want to be a writer, write. If you aspire to be a mountain biker, then ride. If you want to become a pianist, then play.
Just don’t confuse curiosity with commitment.