There is no try.

I was scanning LinkedIn the other day, and saw one new person introduce himself as an “aspiring writer”.
That struck me immediately, but I wasn’t sure why right away. It took a little thinking about it.
My wife talks to me about how it’s nice sometimes to be a human “being” instead of a human “doing”. By that, she means sometimes you just have to sit back and BE, rather than constantly be running around DOing things.
But writing? Writing is a DO. (It’s also a BE, but I’ll get to that.) You are a writer when you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and write. You’re an aspiring writer when…I don’t know, perhaps when you’re daydreaming about someday putting pen to paper? But that doesn’t sound very productive to me.
I hear this all the time though. Someone is working hard on their writing. Taking it seriously. Maybe getting some writing in every single day, pounding those keys. That person reads books on writing, follows writers’ blogs, works to learn the craft and business, and is producing new material.
And then he or she goes and undermines all of that hard work by self-identifying as an “aspiring writer”.
I call BS. 😉 If you are writing, you are not an aspiring writer. You are a writer. Is that so hard to say? If you’ve been identifying as an “aspiring writer” or say you’re “trying to write”, then right now, while you’re sitting there, give something a shot. Say “I am a writer.”
I usually don’t go in for the whole “positive affirmations” line of stuff. But there’s some facts under the fluff. What we call ourselves does impact our sense of who we are, which can undermine or uplift our ability to accomplish things. When we say we will try something, we give ourselves room to fail. When we say we aspire to something, we leave wiggle room for ourselves to not reach that goal.
If you say you’re aspiring to be a bestselling author, OK – I’ll buy that. It’s not something you really have a lot of control over, so you might be disappointed. Generally, I find the best goals are the ones over which you have a very high level of control, like “I want to finish this book by next month, and immediately begin working on the next”. But it’s a goal, something you want to work toward.
It’s not a statement of who and what you are. “I am an aspiring writer” is a statement of intent about an action, a “DO”. Writer, in other words, is something you become by doing. There’s no special rigamarole, no secret handshake, no velvet carpet. It’s just pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, write.
Writers DO. To BE a writer, you write.
To write, you put pen to paper, you don’t aspire to do so.
As Yoda would say, “do, or do not – there is no try”.
Don’t aspire.
DO.
And then BE.


8 Replies to “There is no try.”

  1. Appreciate this post. I read a similar one yesterday elsewhere along the same vein, regarding “runners” rather than “writers.” As long as you’re doing, you are.
    I still have a mental hangup calling myself either a runner or a writer, as I am still struggling to complete my first mile and my first novel. But obviously, I need to get over that.

    1. Yup. Some labels are about an accomplishment – like “Olympic medalist” or “bestselling author”. Some titles are given to you, like “General” or “Vice President of Marketing”.
      And other names simply describe things which we are, or do. Like writer. Or runner. 😉

  2. Appreciate this post. I read a similar one yesterday elsewhere along the same vein, regarding “runners” rather than “writers.” As long as you’re doing, you are.
    I still have a mental hangup calling myself either a runner or a writer, as I am still struggling to complete my first mile and my first novel. But obviously, I need to get over that.

    1. Yup. Some labels are about an accomplishment – like “Olympic medalist” or “bestselling author”. Some titles are given to you, like “General” or “Vice President of Marketing”.
      And other names simply describe things which we are, or do. Like writer. Or runner. 😉

  3. Great article. I’ve recently dropped the “aspiring” part and I’ve found it very freeing. I guess I felt I needed to give myself an escape hatch. If I said “aspiring writer” and I sucked then it wasn’t quite as serious as if I say I’m a “writer” and I suck. Who wants to be committed to something they suck at?
    Okay, well, how great of a writer can I be anyway if I use the word “suck” three times in a sentence? lol
    Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. Great article. I’ve recently dropped the “aspiring” part and I’ve found it very freeing. I guess I felt I needed to give myself an escape hatch. If I said “aspiring writer” and I sucked then it wasn’t quite as serious as if I say I’m a “writer” and I suck. Who wants to be committed to something they suck at?
    Okay, well, how great of a writer can I be anyway if I use the word “suck” three times in a sentence? lol

    Thanks for the encouragement.

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