I’ve seen on a number of writing sites, and, throughout my years, writers—people who write frequently enough that writing isn’t a mere hobby—who are unpublished (particularly those who are seeking the Traditional Publishing route) refer to themselves as “aspiring” writers.
I beg to differ.
They, I, and anyone else who writes anything as frequently as possible, is not aspiring to be a writer. We are writers.
Aspiring writers don’t actually write. They aspire to. In other words, they talk about writing. They worldbuild constantly if they write speculative fiction. They create and fill out character sheets detailing their various characters’ appearances and characterization. They work on background work and research incessantly. They have plans to write . . . when they’re “ready” or are “inspired.”
They don’t write actual stories with any frequency. They don’t even write incomplete stories frequently. They’re not making forward progress on putting down all those stories they talk about writing, or are in the planning stages, or research stage, or whatever not-actively-writing stage they’re at with whatever story they’re telling you about.
All writers should do all this. Discuss, plan, research, prepare themselves for writing the stories that are in their heads. But all those who are real writers move on to actually putting their stories down on disk, or paper, or papyrus or whatever else they want to use. It doesn’t matter. I’ve written stories longhand. There have been times when, out with friends, a vivid scene has popped into my head and I had to write it right then and there so I wouldn’t forget it, so I used napkins. It doesn’t matter. When I’m in a writing upswing, I write on my stories, no matter what genre they happen to be.
I don’t sit there and just talk about or incessantly plan my stories. I don’t aspire to write. I actually do write.
Oh, I can hear it now. Some writers, and I expect it’ll be, for the most part, those going the Trad Pub route, will scream in protest at this. How can I have the temerity, the gall to declare myself a writer when I have not been Traditionally Published and have clearly stated on this very site I won’t be going that route with any of the novels listed here.
Easy. As I stated before, I write. It’s not just a hobby. I write every single day I’m in a writing upswing. Every. Single. Day. No excuses. I research and do the background work necessary, but I don’t dwell on it.
Anyone who writes regularly, whether it be daily, or every weekend when they can cram 20k words in over two days, or every other day—but anyone who does it regularly—IS a writer. A person who writes = writer.
Person who doesn’t write, but talks about that fantastic story they’re going to write one day when their life offers the perfect opportunity for doing so? Aspiring writer.
For perspective: I own a flute and two or three beginning lesson books/CDs. I talk about learning the flute. That’s why I bought the instrument and lesson materials. Occasionally, I even do a little with the flute. But it’s not consistent. Something happens in my life and I don’t practice a day or two and fall out of the habit of it. Do I consider myself a musician simply because I’ve made it to the fourth lesson in one of my flute books? No. I’m an aspiring musician at best. Because I don’t put in the effort to practice and learn. I probably wouldn’t consider myself a full-fledged musician until I’ve gotten to the point of being able to play more complicated songs than nursery rhymes.
I can aspire to be a musician all I want. Actually being one is not going to happen until I buckle down and put in the daily effort to make myself into one. Same goes for a writer. They can do worldbuilding, character building, plot outlining all they want. Until they’re actually writing that story they’re talking about all the time, they’re merely aspiring.
No writer needs the Traditional Publishing Gods to tell them they’re a really-real honest-to-God writer. They write, they’re writers.
It’s as simple as that.