Writing Advice

The Aspiring Writer and Why I Hate That Term

Let’s be blunt, I hate the term ‘aspiring writer’. Now don’t mistake me, sometimes they are the perfect words to describe yourself and I am still in a place where those words apply to me. I have held those words dear to my heart ever since the day I went from ‘I want to be a writer’ to ‘aspiring writer’. The change of wording meant a change of tone in my life. I went from writing and finishing novels, because I wanted to be a writer, to aspiring to be one. From imagining new worlds, characters and scenarios to instead imagining what it would one day be like to be published and sneaking into bookshops to sign copies of my novel. Finishing a novel became something that fell to the backbench of my mind.

It wasn’t intentional.

I could argue that it was timing, once I started college I felt like I didn’t have the time to write, I was in a serious relationship with someone whom I devoted a lot of time to. We talked about our ideas, expanding them, building an entire universe, but at the same time that drew away the motivation to write. And though I hadn’t wrote in months, I called myself an ‘aspiring writer’, sometimes even introducing myself to people with that in mind.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a poor selection of words to describe yourself with. Albeit a little hesitantly, I still use them, because it’s the only way to tell someone ‘I’m trying to be a writer, okay. It’s hard, but I am trying.’

Here’s why I don’t like the term. Because when you’re an aspiring writer you sit on your chair at home, your bed, or stare mindlessly at the board in a lesson or lecture, thinking up these ideas for stories. Weaving the web of your characters so tightly together until you can’t find a single breaking point. Dreams constantly playing. Your plot is steady and fast, but still you can’t write. Sometimes when you’ve accepted you’re an aspiring writer, you can’t put the pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

In 2013 I participated in and completed my first NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t heard of it and you want to someday write a novel or you already have, I suggest you look it up. It’s a challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. NaNoWriMo is something you will see me and Elizabeth talk about in this blog often and in the weeks before November rolls round, we will be delivering some advice on how to tackle NaNoWriMo.

When you sign up, you also receive regular ‘pep talks’ to your inbox and that’s what I want to talk about now. Quite a few of those pep talks stuck with me, they send you a burst of motivation just when you need it, but it was the words of one that still stick with me now. It was written by an author called Misa Buckley and while I have never read her novels, her words have inspired me the most.

“A lot of people will say they’re an aspiring writer. You might, even. But if you’re sitting down and writing, whether “the muse” is with you or not, then you’ve stepped beyond merely ‘aspiring’ – you’re doing. You ARE a writer.”

Once upon a time I was a child who wanted to be a writer, who became a teenager who was an aspiring writer, but now I’m an adult and instead of thinking about this in terms of hopes and dreams I now look at it and think, I don’t want to be a writer, I will be a writer.

So in the words of Misa Buckley, “The skill is to stop aspiring and actually do.” If you want to be a writer, write. Throw away the title of aspiring and accept what you are. For so long I’ve clung on to that label of ‘aspiring writer’, why? I have finished writing four novellas and am on my third draft of my novel. So why haven’t I shed the title of ‘aspiring writer’ when in all truth and honesty I know that it’s just another way of saying ‘unpublished writer’?

I am not aspiring to be something that I already am.

– Nadia


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