Throw a stone in the streets of Hollywood and you'll most likely hit an "aspiring actress". In New York? "Aspiring model". And if that stone doesn't hit those members of the Aspirations Club, it will hit the aspiring singer, or the aspiring rapper, or the aspiring dancer.
Actually, if you throw that stone and it hits someone, you'll most likely get arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. So ixnay on the owingthray.
But -- if you get off the streets and poke your head in the nearest coffee shop, bookstore, or library, you'll probably find a quieter member of this Aspirations Club: the "aspiring writer".
As writers, we are so used to this type of cataloging. But I'm here to say that it's time to drop that label.
Because if you are actually "aspiring", you're doing it wrong.
An aspiring dancer doesn't sit around all day at the studio, whimsically looking at the ballerinas in practice and hoping that, someday, she'll get off her ass. An aspiring singer isn't walking around - lips sealed, vocal cords resting - as the music blares in her house or in her car, wondering if, someday, she'll hum a note or two. The aspiring actress isn't hiding the scripts under her bed, hoping that, someday, she'll be able to say a line or two in front of the mirror, let alone a casting director.
The concept of being an aspiring anything is asinine because you're not aspiring to do it. You don't dream to achieve it. You already do it.
What do you dream of achieving then? You aspire for success, for recognition, for a chance to make a living off of what you love so much. You aspire to push your boundaries, hone your craft, and get better with each passing day. You aspire to have someone turn around and say, "Wow, what you just did really affected me."
But what you are not aspiring for is the thing you already do. We have simply become complacent with this label because society has told us that if we have not achieved a certain level of success, then we must be "aspiring" across the board.
As writers, we aspire to get published, to have our voices heard, and to perhaps even pay a bill or two with the passion that we devote so much time toward. We aspire to affect and cause effects. We aspire to finish a certain novel or screenplay or poem. We aspire to flesh out a story idea that has been playing around in the back of our minds for years.
We aspire for so many things, but I have to take a moment to jab a finger at the proverbial chest of many an "aspiring writer". Because while the dancer goes to practice and the model goes to go-sees and the rapper goes to the pad and pen, some writers go no where.
They are that dancer, sitting in the corner, whimsically dreaming of a day when, they, too, can practice. They are that singer, silent as the ground beneath them, wondering when they, too, can hum a note or two. They are that actress, hiding the scripts under her bed, hoping that someday they, too, can utter a couple lines to the bathroom mirror.
If you are truly "aspiring to write", you are doing it wrong.
Aspiring writers: get the f*ck up. Lace up those proverbial dance shoes and just do it. Stop telling everyone that you have the idea for the next Great American Novel in your head and take the steps to get there. Pick up the pen -- start up the computer -- and write down what's going on in your head.
Dictate. Describe. Expound and extrapolate. Do those tedious writing exercises the same way the musician does those tedious scales. Learn a new word -- learn a new rule about grammar -- the same way an actor learns a new style of acting. Dive headfirst into this crazy concept called language and bask in its cadence and melody and tune, the same way a dancer dives into the beat when she strides across the dance floor.
Write. Write out your ideas. Write about your day. Write about how nothing is coming to mind and who was I to ever assume I could be a writer? Write out a poem, a short story, a scene, knowing it might be absolutely terrible and you'll have to delete it. Then delete it. Or realize that what you wrote wasn't so bad in the first place.
Do not be an "aspiring writer". Be a writer who aspires for greatness. Or simply be a writer who aspires to let the art of writing affect them, personally and privately, as a human being. Aspire to change the world or aspire to simply change how you interact with the world.
But, for the love of God, do not "aspire to write".
You have an entire language at your feet: a 20,000+ army that is ready to be shaped exactly how you want them to be shaped -- ready to be arranged, rearranged, killed off, and brought back to life at your slightest command.
So stop aspiring. Stop wishing. Act like the captain that you are and lead them.