What people call you makes a huge difference. And what you call yourself is just as significant, if not more so. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard the phrase ‘aspiring writer’ – people use the phrase about other people and about themselves, and the more I think about it, the more I’m confused about why we say it, and what it means. Surely you can only be an ‘aspiring writer’ if you would like to write, but haven’t begun to do so. I would argue that someone who loves writing and gravitates towards it should stop putting themselves down with the phrase.
You can aspire to be a better writer, a published writer, a popular writer, a critically-acclaimed writer, or a bestselling writer. But that is not the first step. Surely being a writer is fundamentally ‘someone who writes’ and ideally does it on a regular basis, let’s say, slightly more than is strictly necessary, and because they enjoy it.
If something is burning on your creative mind, whether fiercely or gently, how does it show itself? If it appears in words, then call yourself Writer. If it appears in paint, then call yourself Artist. If it appears in sounds, then call yourself Musician. And if you have the character that is creative in many mediums, then why dismiss yourself as a ‘Jack of all trades’? Call yourself Writer, Artist and Musician. We shouldn’t be confused about having many interests – surely it adds to the richness of life.
I call myself Writer because I now write every day, and feel incomplete if I can’t. I call myself Writer because when a writing project goes badly I am deeply unhappy, and when it starts to go well again I soar on the wings of eagles and my heart leaps for joy (Have I missed any clichés? Don’t think so!). I call myself Writer because I write ridiculously detailed lists, even when the information is safely in my memory. I call myself Writer because I turn my thoughts into blog posts. I call myself Writer because it is a creative outlet that I turn to whenever I’m sad, happy, thoughtful, interested, nervous, agitated, heartbroken, excited…
I have found that there is a freedom and confidence to be had in taking this step: Stop calling yourself an ‘aspiring writer’, whatever anyone else chooses to call you. Be one. And start calling yourself Writer.