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Writers are the authors and authors of literary texts and thus count among the authors .

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Etymological derivations

The term "writer" was formed in the 17th century from "(in) a script" in the sense of "to write" and has since replaced the foreign words "scribbler" and " author " as a professional title .

According to the Brothers Grimm , “writer” is still derived in 1616 from a concipient who prepares legal letters for others, whereas the use of the word “writer” is documented for the first time in 1723 for someone “who has a professional literary activity” . They also quote u. a. also Immanuel Kant , for whom someone who speaks to the audience in his own name is called a writer or author , as well as Friedrich Schiller , for whom the term “writer replaced that of the beautiful spirit , while Joachim Heinrich Campe, according to her German dictionary, “ Literacy ” and “ writers ” as “ low, but not yet reprehensible words ” .

Changing assignments

In the course of the 20th century, "writer" referred to an author of fiction with " literary aspirations ", whose designation experienced a similar revaluation as the " poet " had in the 18th and 19th centuries . This enhancement correlated not there rarely with performance records as the number of its editions in sold commercial publishers published books whose ratings in reviews reputabler literary critic , awarded literary prizes and recording or appointment to such associations. B. the German Academy for Language and Poetry . This was then underlined by the proof that he was able to earn his living predominantly or even exclusively by publishing books.

But by the end of the 20th century at the latest, the term “writer” lost its elitist note and can now generally refer to “book authors” of fictional literature, sometimes even authors of non-fiction books .

A writers 'association like the Association of German Writers, which was founded in 1969 , has always brought together authors and translators of all genres and genres , which within the German Federation of Trade Unions is only separated from the journalists' association dju as an independent organization. And had this association refused to accept authors who were only able to prove publications in self- publishing or subsidized publishing since it was founded, it has now fundamentally changed its position on this: Although the conditions of admission still say that a “professional ID Ability "must be adequately identified, such as B. by “publishing a book that cannot be bought through the use of own funds”, but since February 16, 2019, several publications “also as a self-publisher or self-marketer” are sufficient.

The extended self-designation "freelance writer" refers purely to tax law in contrast to trade to a freelance activity . (But some also understand that as an author, they are not tied to a publisher.)

Similar to the desire to differentiate between the terms literary critic and reviewer, there is (no longer) a clear distinction between the two legally unprotected terms “writer” and “(book) author”. In addition, the reviewers of the feature pages hardly make any judgmental distinction between author and writer . And for the general public, anyone who has published a book of any kind is considered a writer . Writer is here probably simply by type foundry derived, which etymologically (see Eingangserläutungen section etymological derivations above) is indeed wrong, the comprehensive assignment but after the etymological origins as a replacement of the foreign word author comes closer than an evaluative distinction between the two terms.


While creative writing is part of higher education in the USA or students traditionally practice haiku writing in Japan , literary writing is less encouraged in schools in the German-speaking area than the understanding of the text is promoted through reading and interpretation using objective hermeneutics. Writers in the German-speaking world are mostly intensive readers at first, only to find their own way of writing and marketing manuscripts as self-taught .

At the University of Applied Arts Vienna , the University of Hildesheim and, since 1995, at the University of Leipzig ( German Literature Institute Leipzig ), there is a degree in writing and a degree in writing, based on the American model. Guest auditors can also attend these seminars. In addition, numerous writing workshops , such as For example, the Young Literature Forum Hessen-Thuringia or the Marburg Summer Academy offer prospective authors interactive training or coaching from established writers.

For self- marketing, more and more literary agents are being used by writers who are supposed to help break down the hurdles with the publishers. In fact, however, literary agencies subject the authors to similar selection and exclusion criteria as the publishers and thus sometimes take on the function of “outsourced” editing .

In spite of whatever kind of education and training, only very few writers manage to live on their publications or book fees alone. Most of them therefore pursue other activities - either completely beyond literature or in a related combination as a translator, reading traveler or, as has long been in the USA, as a lecturer in creative writing .

For information on remuneration and royalties, see the author .


Many writers are organized in professional and interest groups. They serve the literary content discourse, but also the promotion of their members through the association's own publications as well as reading and discussion events.

The best-known international writers' association is the PEN , but it is also open to other writing professions. In Germany there is a national organization with the PEN Center Germany , in Austria there is the Austrian PEN Club . In Switzerland there is the German-speaking Swiss PEN Center and finally the PEN Club Liechtenstein in Liechtenstein . The PEN Center of the German Democratic Republic also existed until 1998 . There is also a PEN center for German-speaking authors abroad


The largest federal association in Germany with 3,600 members is the Union of German Writers (VS). In particular, it also offers legal protection and advice on copyright issues . The VS also negotiates standard contracts with the German book trade and sees itself as a lobby when it comes to the social security of authors (see artists' social insurance ) and the relevant legal texts. In addition, most writers are also members of the VG Wort to secure secondary rights to their works.

Also to be mentioned are:

Advertisement by the German Association of Women Writers from 1896

Historically significant associations were:


The best-known association of writers in Switzerland is the association of authors from Switzerland .


The most famous writers' associations in Austria are the IG Authors , the Austrian Writers' Association and the Graz Authors' Assembly .

See also





  • German Literature Lexicon . Biographical-bibliographical manual. 3rd edition, Bern / Munich 1968ff. (As of the end of 2010: 29 volumes up to white ).
  • German Literature Lexicon. Biographical-bibliographical manual. Supplementary volumes, Bern 1994ff. (As of the end of 2006: 6 volumes up to Ryslavy [1999]).
  • German Literature Lexicon. The 20th century. Carl Ludwig Lang, Bern / Munich 2000, from volume 2 Konrad Feilchenfeldt, Bern / Munich 2001 (as of the end of 2006: 9 volumes up to Fries ).
  • Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Hrsg.): Critical lexicon for contemporary German literature . - KLG: Edition Text and Criticism, loose-leaf edition, loose-leaf work, since 1978, is continuously updated.
  • Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Hrsg.): Critical Lexicon for Foreign Language Contemporary Literature - KL f G: Edition Text and Criticism, loose-leaf edition, loose-leaf work, is constantly updated.
  • Andreas Klimt (Ed.): Kürschner's German Literature Calendar . Volume 1–3, KG Saur Verlag, Munich / Leipzig, ISBN 3-598-23581-X (several editions already exist).
  • Andreas Klimt (ed.): Kürschner's German non-fiction calendar. Volume 1–2, KG Saur Verlag, Munich / Leipzig, ISBN 3-598-24181-X (several editions already exist).
  • Ute Hechtfischer, Renate Hof, Inge Stephan (Hrsg.): Metzler Authors Lexicon. Suhrkamp, ​​Stuttgart / Weimar 1998, paperback edition: Frankfurt am Main 2002
  • Andreas B. Kilcher (Ed.): Metzler Lexicon of German-Jewish Literature. Jewish authors in the German language from the Enlightenment to the present. 2nd, updated and expanded edition. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2012, ISBN 978-3-476-02457-2 .
  • Bernd Engler, Kurt Müller (Ed.): Metzler Lexicon of American Authors. 768 S., Stuttgart and Weimar 2000.
  • Eberhard Kreutzer, Ansgar Nünning (ed.): Metzler Lexicon of English-speaking authors . Special edition, Stuttgart and Weimar 2006.
  • Bernd Lutz, Benedikt Jeßing (Hrsg.): Metzler Lexikon Authors: German-speaking poets and writers from the Middle Ages to the present. 4th, updated and extended edition Stuttgart / Weimar 2010.

Web links

Wiktionary: Writer  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Writer  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikiquote: Writers  - Quotes

Individual evidence

  1. Duden. Volume 7, The Dictionary of Origin. An Etymology of the German Language. Dudenverlag, Mannheim / Vienna / Zurich 1963, ISBN 3-411-00907-1 .
  2. ^ German dictionary by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm . Der Digitale Grimm, version 05-04, two thousand and one, Frankfurt am Main 2004.
  3. Helma Nehrlich: Contribute to the narrative of society , article from February 18, 2019 in kunst + kultur (online magazine of the VS ) on the 5th Federal Expert Group Conference on Literature, which met on February 16, 2019 as part of the four-day VS Congress, online at kuk.verdi.de
  4. vs.verdi.de Association's own information on: " Become a member of VS"
  5. ^ Hans Jürgen Haferkorn: The freelance writer. In: Archives for the history of the book industry. 5, 1964, pp. 523-711.
  6. ^ Joseph Kürschner, Heinrich Klenz: Kürschner's German Literature Calendar to the year 1907 . Year 29th GJ Göschen, Leipzig 1907, Sp. 1984 ( Textarchiv - Internet Archive ).