Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Self Sabotage: The Absolute Worst Thing Any Writer Can Call Themselves

This one word has the ability to single-handedly undermine what could otherwise be a long and successful career. Aspiring Writer, Aspiring Author, Aspiring Musician, Aspiring Actor, etc. But what does that do for us? Why do we do it?

Saying you're a Writer is taboo. Sure, if you are already a success, it's easy to feel validated, but for the rest of us, the world says, "Don't quit your day job." and rolls its eyes. It makes parent's shriek, makes friends schedule interventions, and makes landlords search for new tenants. For that purpose, using the word "aspiring" gets us off the hook, it says, "Hey, I realize that I'm not successful, so leave me alone."

Referring to ourselves as "aspiring" also has the ability to give us a buffer- a way to fail without having to take on the accountability or fault. If you never remove the "aspiring" from your title, then you have a fail-safe way to make sure people are aware you're not taking yourself too seriously. Thus, when nothing comes of your new venture, no harm no foul. Right?

Image courtesy of Pixomar at

Everyone starts off as a no one. Calling yourself an Aspiring Writer subconsciously prevents you from making your dreams a reality. It is the little voice in the back of your mind that causes you to see yourself as an outsider. With that little disclaimer, you can never be a participating member of the writing community because of the self-inflicted distance you created to feel safe.

We are afraid of being judged, afraid of someone telling us that we're not who we say we are. That thought, the idea that we're impostors, keeps us from taking the bull by the horns and taking claim over what we truly wish to be ours.

They say one of the things that a writer needs to succeed is thick skin. Very thick, thick skin. This is true, and  it's not just because we have to accept criticism about our writing, but because the very idea of being a writer is fraught with scrutiny. However, if we do not believe in ourselves enough, or have the courage to call ourselves Writer. Author. Who will?

Still not convinced? Please tell me, when will you feel justified in calling yourself a Writer? When you get published? Wait...does self-publishing count (um...YES!)? When you earn your first dollar? Or maybe you have to earn a thousand dollars...or get an agent...That first book is a fluke, you will feel like a real writer after you publish your second book. Do you see what I'm getting at? No matter how much or how long you are doing the job you "aspire" to do, you will always have to deal with taking accountability for it at some point.

Drop it. Completely banish "aspiring" from your vocabulary. (Unless you're describing a tragic character in your novel.)

I'm here to tell you that if you are writing, you are a Writer. If you are a Writer, you are also an Author. As writers, we usually have to write the book to get the contract, to earn the dollar. Would you say that JK Rowling was a Writer even when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was just a word document on her computer. Hell yes, she was. And so are we.

I'm not saying that it won't take some getting used to. Our friends and family may snicker, we may chicken out the first few times, but we must do it anyway. We will hold our heads high and say it with conviction. We must fake it till we make it, as it were.

Read Kristin Lamb's book, Are You There, Blog? It's Me, Writer. She will tell you the same thing. If you tell people that you are an "accountant", "mom", "teacher", "shade-tree mechanic", that's what they will believe you are. If you want to be an Author, tell them you are. You'll be surprised how empowered it will make you feel. And when you feel empowered, you'll be more inclined to stick with it, to see yourself as a professional of the craft, and to create for yourself a long term career in the field.

It's just the beginning, but it's a great start.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome blog post; thanks for the new writing energy


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