I am a fan of words but I am not amused when they are misused. I also detest when people take words and phrases and create illegitimate hierarchies out of them, unnecessarily puffing up the ego of some while belittling others. “Aspiring writer” is one of such phrases and it should have been tossed in the trash a long time ago.
I loathe this term for a couple of reasons: 1) I have never seen it used correctly and 2) its incorrect use contributes to this pecking order that exists among writers. According to our good friend Merriam-Webster, aspiring means “to want to have or achieve something (such as a particular career or level of success).” Given this definition, an aspiring writer is someone who only desires to write. For this individual, writing is just a dream, a thing that they want to do sometime in the future. But we do not call this kind of person an aspiring writer. Instead, we use that phrase to describe those who write, specifically those who are at the beginning of their writing careers. That does not make sense.
I have seen this nonsense also leak into the blogosphere. Now, I understand that not all bloggers are writers. There are some bloggers that better identify as curators since their main function in the blog world is to share others’ work. But there are plenty of writers who write on their blogs. And to mislabel them as aspiring writers or “not even real writers” contributes to this writer hierarchy that should not be left unchecked.
Another thought about writers that I have heard is the idea that if you do not have a large audience, you are not a real writer. This reminds of a poll that was created by someone I follow on twitter. I was pretty happy with the results:
Do unread words have meaning?
— Nic (@ExilePolitics) May 9, 2016
I was also happy with what this individual said in response to the question:
@ExilePolitics Yes, because they were written by someone.
— Jackson Dame (@jacksondame) May 9, 2016
So, if you are someone who creates written work (therefore using words that have meaning), ding ding ding! You are a writer.
I have witnessed more than one talented writer admit that identifying as a writer feels weird. They see the word writer and see large shoes to fill. Or they see the term and think that it is only reserved for those who write literary fiction. Honestly, I cannot blame them for their misinterpretation of the word. Their perspective was derived from a narrow and unfortunately popular idea that those who hold the title “writer” are part of an exclusive club of fiction novelists and those who have “made it.” But if you are someone who creates written pieces, the title fits you perfectly. And what is nice is that the term grows with you as you develop as a writer.
Unlike being a doctor or a lawyer, being a writer is both the starting point and the journey. It is something you become the moment you begin writing.
There is no ceiling to hit nor is there an endpoint to your writing path because there are nearly infinite ways one can grow as a writer. There are also countless genres that one can dig into and explore; literary fiction is not the only one. And the wonderful thing about being a writer is that the work we create lingers after we are gone. And at some point, our work will touch hearts, creating the building blocks for leaving a legacy that will outlive us. By being writers, we become immortal.
So, if you are a person who writes, repeat to yourself, “I am a writer.” Let that phrase become a familiar resident in your mouth. Say it over and over again until your heart starts to believe it, even in the slightest. You are not aspiring or envisioning yourself doing it; you are doing it. You are here and you are writer.