Switching Identities: ‘Aspiring Writer’ or Writer?


Podcasts are a new thing for me. I never gave them much thought until quite recently. Now, I’m slowly becoming addicted listening to them over music when I run, travel or just laze around the house.

The two that I’ve been working through the back log of are ‘The Self Publishing Podcast’ by Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt and David Wright and ‘The Creative Penn’ by Joanna Penn. Through listening to these great sources of information regarding writing, I’ve come across other great resources out there. One person who gave me the topic I’d like to discuss here is a writer named Jeff Goins. Jeff Goins is a writer who writes plenty on the motivations to write and on identifying as a writer among many other topics.

Anyway, this got me thinking about when should someone identify themselves as a fully fledged writer or author?

Gone are the days when you would have to see your book on a shelf in a book store to be considered a writer. It’s an antiquated view but this stereotype still holds true for some. Having a physical location within a book store fills a writer with a very strong sense of achievement. Loved ones and friends can wander in to a store, pick up your book, hold it, feel it, maybe even tell a store worker that they know you, gloating a little (you’d hope). It’s concrete proof that are a fully fledged, no training wheels attached, writer. No longer would you identify yourself as ‘an aspiring’ or as I call myself ‘a novice’ writer.

Traditional publishing isn’t for everyone nowadays. With the advent of online technology writer’s can publish their work to the masses without going through agents, publishing houses or other industry professionals. Many authors have rolled down this track and paved the way with fantastic written work giving self publishing a higher perch to sit on than ever before. When ebooks were first gaining momentum it was easy to see why people would spend a dollar on a book only to find it wasn’t that good or was badly written. It cost a dollar so who cared less. It was a shame to see so many writers publish books that were not well revised nor were they edited enough to allow the book to shine as the finished product emulating what traditional publishing would have done. This is were self publishing got it’s bad rap from. This is why some out there see self published authors as ‘not truly being published’ regardless of your success. This small mindedness still exists today even though self published work has make leaps and bounds in regards to quality. In a recent post by Hugh Howey he discusses this very mentality at the ‘RT Booklover’s Convention’, where self published authors were seen as ‘aspiring authors’ even though they had sold millions of copies and had wild success with their ebooks. Click here to read it.

The previous paragraph can be read as ‘traditional bashing’ but it’s not the intent. Both self and traditional publishing have a place out there and both are securing their ground for the future. Hybrid writers or authors are pioneers of this, feeling out what works and what doesn’t while cohabiting both worlds. It’s not a dichotomy which works but a mutually beneficial industry that works on the strengths of each arena of publishing while cutting away what doesn’t work.

Now bring this down a peg or two (or several) to the true ‘aspiring author’ who travels along the self publishing. Do they identify themselves as a ‘real writer’?
Those of us who grew up with the web and it’s immense interconnectivity and information sharing would answer with a resounding ‘YES’.


Then what about writers who blog or publish short stories or share their poetry online. Does this activity in of itself mean you can identify as a writer?
It’s how a writer is defined that seems to be key here. Does a person call themselves a writer if they don’t get paid for it? I would hope the answer is yes.

Let me put this forward. If your words are words are out there and if those words are read by someone and if that someone was moved, inspired or changed in any slight possible way then you should identify yourself as a writer. Stephen King fans will see I’ve used his quote from ‘On Writing’ and changed it up a little but I’ve done this for a reason because writing is evolving beyond the physical. It evolved again even as King penned the original quote. It’s no longer simply just a piece of prose within a book, or a newspaper, or a magazine. It’s also blog or online article or ebook or any of the plethora of prose found out there online or in print. If someone reads what you’ve written, something you intended more then a teacher or lecturer to read then you should be classified a writer.

After all that I might just go crazy and change my blog title to read ‘Writer’ instead of ‘Novice Writer’. Practice what you preach and all that… (o:
meet the author



  1. Self publishing has not cornered the market on trash looking at some of the things thrown out there by traditional methods. I say you call yourself whatever you choose at any time you choose to. I also say you call yourself whatever motivates you to be that title you have chosen with credibility.


  2. I’ve always had a problem with “aspiring”. If you’ve “authored” one, two, three novels– you ARE a writer! Good for you for changing your title. “Novice” or “aspiring” to me seems like we don’t know what we’re doing. Although for me, traditional is the only way to go, I certainly would never bash anyone who went the self-publishing route. There have been many authors who have been wildly successful by self-publishing. And honestly, the traditional route is paved with rejection and disappointment. It’s not for everyone.


    • Rejection is a sting all feel too often but the landscape is changing and it means more people can get their words out there. Both roads have their peaks and troughs. Each writer is different and will each route to publishing will appeal to each individual.


  3. If you write, and other people read it and enjoy it, then I say you’re a writer. I think it should be up to people themselves to decide, and not publishing houses or how many sales someone gets 🙂


  4. I don’t aspire to be a writer. I just write. If I write long enough, well enough, passionately enough, then others may begin to call me a writer. As for me? I’m content with being me. A man who writes. Often. Relatively well. With tons of passion. There’s no aspiration there – just action.


  5. I call myself a writer simply because some of the writing I do comes with a paycheck. I write fiction, too, and I’ve been published – but short stories. I’d like to call myself an AUTHOR, but I haven’t yet finished a book. And if it’s a novella, or a short story collection, or a serial, are you still an AUTHOR, since authors write books…? So many labels – and some traditionally published authors get super miffed when the self-published call themselves anything but aspiring. Those people are living in a different world. If you write, you’re a writer. Period. I agree with kinginascendent – aspiring writers have never written. Any further categorizations are just limiting and judgmental. Great post.


  6. This was a great post! I enjoyed the comments of others as well. I read a long time ago that it was important for people who were serious about their writing to think of themselves as “writers.” I like that! After all, we of all people should know that the words we use are powerful! 😊 Thank you for the great
    post and for the follow. I will enjoy following your blog!


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