You probably clicked on this blog post ready to fight. I know I would if someone tried to tell me what I am or what I'm not, especially when it's related to something as important to me as my writing hobby/passion/career.
The truth is, I'm not here to shut you down. This is my attempt at pumping you with the confidence you need to own your identity as a writer and ditch the 'aspiring' tag.
So...let's start with the basics.
Can you honestly answer 'yes' to one of the following questions?
Do you write as a hobby?
Do you post your writing online?
Do you dedicate any time, even if it's only a few minutes every few weeks, to writing anything at all?
Did you write something once upon a time but haven't really written anything else in a while?
Do you write anything as part of your job?
Do you plot stories but never find time to complete them?
Have you ever entered a writing competition?
Do you write a blog?
Have you ever written a blog (even if it's just one article)?
Have you, at any time in your life, for any reason at all, ever had to write anything longer than a few sentences, no matter what it was about, what its purpose was, or what happened to it after you finished writing it?
If you answered 'yes' to even just one of the above questions, then I've got news for you: You are NOT an aspiring writer.
You may well be an aspiring author if you've started writing a book (or you'd like to start writing a book) but you haven't quite found the time to complete it yet. The moment you complete a book, whether it's fiction, non-fiction, or anything in between, you become an author. You authored your book; therefore you are an author, no matter what other people try to tell you.
It's possible you're also aspiring to be a published author if you've written a book but it hasn't found a home yet. Maybe said book won't ever find a home (which, for the record, is totally okay and a very common thing to happen—ask any writer who's ever had a thing published), or perhaps you know straight away that this isn't the book you want to pitch because you know you can write better. Still fine. Still legit. You are still an author, you just haven't earned your 'published' title yet.
There's a chance that you're an aspiring journalist if you've written—or have an interest in writing—articles, features, reviews, columns, or news stories, but you haven't found a medium through which to broadcast your work. But you're still writing them, aren't you? Great! So you're not aspiring to be a writer.
Perhaps you're an aspiring blogger if you've considered setting up a blog, but haven't, for whatever reason, set it up yet. If you've got a genuine interest in blogging then it's pretty likely you've written other things too. Doesn't matter what those things are—you still wrote them.
...Do you catch my drift yet?
Make a Good First Impression
I'm active on Instagram and Twitter quite a lot, and I browse other social media platforms regularly. On these platforms, I follow and interact with a lot of writers from all walks of life, at all stages in their writing journey. Some have already forged fantastic careers out of their writing, while others have just started out posting their first drafts on Wattpad. I love following writers online, but every time I click onto another writer's profile and see the phrase 'aspiring writer' sitting there in their bio, I cringe and die a little inside. This is usually because I know straight off that this person has actually written something, and this, in fact, makes them a writer. A writer. Just a writer. No 'aspiring' tagged onto the title. Nothing else.
IF YOU WRITE ANYTHING AT ALL, YOU ARE A WRITER.
I can't make it any clearer than that. When you aspire to do something, it means you haven't done it already. Most of the time, if you've made the decision to put 'aspiring writer' in your bio, you have written something but you're probably not confident enough in owning your identity just yet. I can totally understand that.
For all of the support and love the writing community shares online, it can feel like a very closed community to a newbie, and one that isn't immediately easy to break into.
If you're just starting out in your writing journey, or you're just beginning to make it public for the first time after years of closet writing, it can feel so daunting to see so many writers with huge online followings and massive successes that you automatically place yourself beneath them, consciously or not. It's the imposter syndrome creeping in. And damn, it's difficult to feel truly confident in your abilities when you don't have a strong support network online, especially when it feels like everybody else has an established community rooting for them already.
I can relate to this entirely, but I just want to remind you of the fact that every single writer you're in awe of on social media, whether it's their huge list of engaged followers, or simply the successes they've had throughout their career—they all started in the same position as you. Maybe they considered themselves only an aspiring writer, too, even if they knew inside—like you do—that they really weren't aspiring at all; they were doing.
Owning Your Identity
It takes time to build up a following, and probably even more time to build confidence in your abilities, but adding a tag like 'aspiring writer' in your bio only serves to distance you even further from the community you are entitled to be a part of.
So, shout it from the rooftops: BE BRAVE. IF YOU WRITE, TELL PEOPLE THAT YOU WRITE. If you're posting a book on Wattpad, link to it on your social media; if you've self-published a book and it's available to buy on Amazon, advertise it more than once.
It really doesn't matter what level of the game you're at—if you have written, or are writing, anything at all, step into your identity, take a deep breath, and ditch the 'aspiring' tag. Nobody is going to tell you that you aren't a writer.
You are a writer. You write. You will continue to write. Hello, this is your identity speaking: IT'S TIME TO LET ME OUT!!
(Did you know, every week on Sundays, I host a different author interview on my blog? It's free to take part, and a worthwhile promotional opportunity. Maybe it's the confidence boost you need to step into your identity entirely? If you'd like to be featured, please complete the interview form available here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the full list of questions!)