Recently I’ve seen a phrase that I absolutely hate. Two words that should never go together. I’ve seen it on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. In profile descriptions and as a hashtag. People are calling themselves aspiring writers, and I wish they wouldn’t. I never want any of you to call yourself an aspiring writer!
If you want to be a writer, then you are.
If you are writing, then you can call yourself a writer. You don’t have to be published to be a writer. There is a big difference between an aspiring writer and an aspiring author. It takes time and effort and talent to become an author, but ANYONE can call themselves a writer.
And if you are writing, you deserve to. No more “I can’t wait to be a real writer.” What does that even mean? An unpublished writer isn’t any less of a writer than a published one. You don’t have to be an author to be a writer.
If you don’t believe me read on to see what 8+ writers (published and unpublished) say about why they call themselves writers.
What It Takes to Call Yourself a Writer (According to 8+ Writers)
“I call myself a writer because when I’m not writing, I can’t stop thinking about writing. There have been times when I’ve fallen off the wagon, so to speak, and went months without writing or editing any of my own creative work. During these slumps, I genuinely feel that there is something missing from my life. In essence, I need to write, whether it gets published or not.”
Gabrielle Pastorek, www.gabriellepastorek.com
“I write because I feel unnatural when I don’t. It is not a daily practice for me, it is more like distilling fine spirits. Something occurs, and that brews. I noted it and leave it. It sits, and I hope I can connect it with something else. The grand intention is always to develop a lofty theme but to get there by small meaningful batches. I only write what I know well. My writing intends to leave the reader in a relaxed state yet thinking, searching their own mind. I am not a published writer; yet I have had honorable mentions in competitions and have been praised by published authors. I am not in a hurry to get published. When I do, I will be published. I am a writer.”
Maria Feldman, Writer
“The simple answer is because I write. The deeper answer is because writing allows me to create something that never existed before me. My words are my art. My thoughts and emotions are the tools I harness to create beautiful imagery. I hope that by sharing what goes on inside my head, my heart, and my soul, I can unburden myself while at the same time, shouldering the weight of others who are seeking solace in my writing. I am a writer because sometimes my voice is lost. Without words, I am scared that I could not speak.”
-Chandi Gilbert, www.chandigilbert.com
“Five months ago, I gave up the financial stability of a full-time job to set up a freelance writing and proofreading business.
My role was unrelated to my degree in English Literature and Creative Writing and I felt over-worked and underappreciated. I knew that if I wanted to be happy and fulfilled, I needed to take the plunge and carve a career for myself based on my love of reading and writing.
After a business workshop with the Prince’s Trust, a proofreading course with the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, and lots of unpaid work to boost my experience and portfolio, I finally launched my website last month, offering copywriting, proofreading and personalised wedding poetry.
Although it’s still early days and money remains tight, I’ve lost count of the amount of people who have commented on how content I am.
I consider myself a writer because it’s the only thing I’d be happy doing for the rest of my life.”
-Megan Whiting, http://meganwhiting.co.uk/home-page
“I am a writer, because for me writing is as natural and necessary as breathing. It is just something I must do to survive. When I stop writing, my senses dull and I lose that edge that is aware of the tiniest details of what is taking place around me. My focus is off and I feel like a part of me is hibernating. Writing awakens my soul. I feel I live my best life when I can put thoughts to paper. When I have an idea, until I put it to paper it is like an itch that needs to be scratched. It drives you crazy until you scratch the spot and then you feel satisfaction because the itch has been soothed.”
-Wendy Mccance, https://wendymccance.wixsite.com/wendymccance/press
“I can’t tell you how many times I have told people I’m a writer only to have them respond, “Are you published anywhere?” or “Have I read any of your stuff?” I simultaneously want to cringe and roll my eyes. For a long time, I would respond with a little embarrassment, “No, I’m not published, but I’m working on ( fill in project details here ).” I would try to justify calling myself a writer by distracting them with surface details about my work before hastily changing the subject.
Looking back, I had to ask myself: why did I feel uncomfortable calling myself a writer? I think part of the answer is the general perception of a writer. Most people (ahem non-writers ahem) picture a writer as one whose work is in the public sphere and that he/she is getting paid for it, too. Umm, false! You’re missing the point, people! Truthfully, being a writer is far more than just getting published. Anyone ( anyone!) who puts words on a page qualifies as a writer. It’s that simple. So why did it still feel like I had to earn the right to call myself a writer?
The real root of my problem was a lack of confidence. While I can’t control the public perception of a writer, I can control how I present myself. To do that, I had to get real with why I write in the first place. I call myself a writer because it is my life’s calling. Because I never leave the house without paper and pen. Because I feel a spark when I try to capture sight, smell, sound, taste, and texture using words. Because I want to chase the unexplained in the world. Because I feel pure joy when I write. And on and on, and on.
In culmination, I realized I should feel pride instead of fear at telling someone I’m a writer. So now, when the inevitably thoughtless follow-up questions come, I’m ready to say, ‘It’s part of who I am.'”
-Kristen Greve, Writer
“I work as an interpreter these days at almost 50, writing for my own enjoyment while working on the legacy novel I’d like to leave my children and grands, but my language loving started as a young child. I would look through my large blue atlas and select names of my future children based on cities in the USSR. Angarsk. Kogalym. Clearly this was destiny calling me to design Tolkeinesque worlds with these smashing (and historically accurate!) names of goblin-elf warriors.
Later, after I had my own children, Harry Potter and another Ginny apparated into my life with a full retinue of fan writers in tow, recreating plots where they felt Jo had left a bit to be desired, pairing characters with driving tropes, and basically having a blast writing for the pure joy of it. Some of these unpublished yet talented writers have written stories that will stay with me for life.
That’s me! I’m a reader. I’m a writer-unpublished at the moment, but a girl can dream. I’m a writer! An admirer of those creators of worlds and characters. They make me laugh, and cry, and inspire me to dream of things that could be. And I go out and experience things that ARE because someone dreamed them into existence.”
“When I retired from the City, I would have laughed at being described as a “writer”, though I harboured ambitions to do something creative. A local Pantomime required a pianist, but I soon discovered that the songs were pretty awful. So I took the lyrics but changed the music and added a new song or two.
A year later, I was looking for a decent script for the next show without success, and so made an attempt to write the script as well. It went well and I have been writing pantos ever since. It was a mixture of opportunity and time which gradually led me in. At no point did I think “Now I am a
Writer”. I always find that a rather pompous idea. After all, we are all writers in some shape or form. I think it is the act of writing for pleasure which marks out the “Writer”.
When the idea for a novel came to me a few years ago, it seemed a natural extension of scriptwriting (with less dialogue). I still view it as a highly enjoyable hobby, but my writing has gradually spread, from lyrics, to prose and poetry, and of course into blogs such as this. And I still find it fun.
I am lucky enough to have the time and I am not overly worried about criticism (this is certainly an important part of being a writer!). Also, and as in many other art forms, it is the act of going over and over the same piece again, to polish it to perfection, that marks a writer out from a mere scribbler. There is obviously some part of me that would love to make money, but this is not the major reason for putting pen to paper. I suspect the real reason lies closer to the joy of creation that is the same whether one is a writer, musician or painter. That, and the extreme pleasure to be gained when just one person likes a line you have produced. And a laugh is even better.”
“In response to, “What do you do?” the answer “I’m a writer” might elicit mystified or challenging reactions, so I often say I teach writing. I edit books. Editing and teaching sound like jobs. It saves me from explaining what I’m writing at the moment, and why I’m not a bestselling millionaire.
But I always tell myself: I am a writer. Have been since I wrote a three-sentence story at age six. It took a few decades to own that statement. To know that I am a writer whether getting rejections or acceptances. I may earn income working with words in other ways. But—I am a writer. Need to convince yourself? Say it every morning while brushing your teeth. I am a writer. No matter what.”
Lisa Romeo, http://LisaRomeo.blogspot.com
“I am a writer because I don’t know what else to be. Words make me feel alive. I write to communicate the thoughts and feelings that possess me. I write to share the way I experience and make sense of the world around me. I write because I have stories to tell.
I write to pay homage to writers that have inspired me. Writers from Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling have shaped how I think about the world around me. I write because I want to inspire new ways of thinking in others, and in myself. And because I write, I am a writer.”
Shelby Bunker, The Writing Pal 😉
Do you call yourself an aspiring writer?
From now on, call yourself a WRITER!