Throughout my career, I’ve heard many people refer to themselves as “aspiring” writers. Some of them put this tag on themselves even though they write daily. Others do so when they talk about writing daily and haven’t made a move to begin their career.
In the corner of my mind, I wonder if there’s confusion about what the word “aspiring” means?
Merriam-Webster defines the word aspiring as “desiring and working to achieve a particular goal: having aspirations to attain a specified profession, position, etc.”
Okay, the definition makes sense. However, are you an “aspiring writer” if you’re:
- Talking about writing?
- Not writing, but dreaming about becoming a writer?
- Reading about writing, but not engaging in the craft?
- Joining writing groups, but not participating?
I’ve met some people who seem trapped in the “desire” part of the definition of “aspiring,” and haven’t figured out how to move into the “working to achieve” part of it for one reason or another. Answering “yes” to the questions above could indicate that you’re trapped in the “desire” part of the definition.
How to Break Free
Breaking free from the desire to write and into the actual act takes courage. You can do this, though. Let’s look at how.
Are you talking about writing?
We all love to talk about writing in chat rooms, discussion groups, and in forums. However, talking about writing isn’t writing. You may have a lot of questions, and that’s okay. There’s no such thing as asking too many questions. However, getting trapped in the cycle of conversation and routine of visiting these groups of people becomes a distraction.
- Ask your questions and, if necessary, write down or record the answers somewhere.
- Limit your time in the chat rooms, discussion groups, and forums—consider setting a timer.
- Try to visit the same time daily—creating a schedule will help you stick to a writing routine.
Do you dream of becoming a writer?
Many people dream of writing instead of exercising their writing muscles. They may feel like they’re not good enough of they don’t have anything to say. They know they want to write, though. If you fall into this category, grab a notebook.
- Why do you want to be a writer?
- When did you first feel like you wanted to write?
- Who inspires you when you think about writing, and why?
- What kind of writing do you want to do and, if you haven’t thought about this yet, brainstorm some ideas now?
Use these questions to start writing. That’s right—you’re WRITING! It’s a start, and it will lead to more writing. Use these pages to jumpstart ideas for future pieces of writing, blog posts, and other stories.
How much reading are you doing?
Reading about writing isn’t writing. Some people are experts about writing, but they’ve never written a word. Why? Because they’ve either bought every book they can get their hands on, or they spend hours at the library reading books and on the Internet reading articles.
There’s nothing wrong with learning. We all should be active learners. No matter how long you’re in the business, knowledge should always be part of your routine. However, if it gets in the way of your craft, it’s time to rearrange your schedule. It may be that you’re not comfortable with breaking away from the knowledge cycle and into writing. If you fall into this category, here’s another opportunity to grab a notebook.
- Write a review about the last book you read about writing—make it as in-depth as possible, including background about the author.
- Summarize the last three to five articles you read about writing, as well as how they relate to your current goals.
Do this each time you read and, before you know it, you’ll be developing a writing routine. Once that routine grows, you’ll start finding other ideas you want to write about aside from what you’re reading.
Why aren’t you participating in groups?
Have you joined a writing group, but haven’t participated yet? This group may be online, or it may be at your local library. Either way, it’s a great start that you made a move toward joining. The question is, why aren’t you active?
If you’re part of an online group, it’s easy to lurk in the background and watch what everyone else is doing. If the group is large, no one really notices who is participating and who isn’t. Some people join to learn from others, find inspiration, or figure out of being in a group is right for them.
Being part of a face-to-face writing group is a bit different. Everyone sees who is present, who participates, and when people are trying to hide in corners. Some of these groups are small and meet in circles. Others are large and fill a room. Either way, the setting is more intimidating than an online situation.
That’s the bottom line—intimidation and fear. If you’re looking for a writing mentor, a writing group is an excellent place to find one. They’ll help you work through these feelings and move toward making progress with your work.
Having the desire to write is a goal for many. Move beyond that desire and into the “working to achieve” phase of becoming a writer, and you’ll see a significant change. Once you start writing instead of thinking, reading, or talking about doing it—you’ll be so glad you did! You can do this!