What do you think is the difference between writers and wannabes?

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KCathy

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I'm still a rank newbie/wannabe with nothing but a handful of published articles and an unsold book proposal under my belt. Even so, I'm already hearing "I've always dreamed of writing" from everyone to whom I sheepishly admit what I'm doing. I can't imagine how often real writers like many of you must hear it. The people who tell me that never seem to actually do anything to reach their dreams, though.

It seems to me like the difference between a pipe dream and a realistic goal, no matter what the goal or where you start, is a workable plan and the willingness to work your tookus off to achieve it. I'm sure there's a lot more to it, though, and I would love to learn from your depth of experience. What do you think separates the writers from the wannabes?
 

limitedtimeauthor

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How can I tell a real writer from a wannabe?

Well, when someone finds out I get paid to write or that I've been published, and they say "I've always wanted to do that," a wannabe will drift off to sleep while I give them my enthusiastic "How I First Got Published" story. LOL.

I'm quite sure a real writer will listen with rapt attention, maybe even break out a notebook to jot down things I say. I don't know though, because I've yet to have that happen - except here on these forums!

But I also look at it another way: I'm a wannabe novelist, because I have yet to finish a novel. But I'm not a wannabe writer. I write.

ltd.
 

Anonymisty

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KCathy said:
What do you think separates the writers from the wannabes?

Wannabe writers
- wish they could write but never have the time
- have a great idea all plotted out in their heads, but just can't figure out how to put it on paper
- plan to write someday

Writers write.

Honestly, that's pretty much it.
 

Histry Nerd

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Welcome, KCathy. My wife is fond of saying a plan is the difference between a dream and a goal (to the kids, of course--never to me. Really!). Sounds like you are already miles ahead of those wannabes.

The pat answer, the one you'll hear over and over if you spend time on these boards, the super-duper secret formula you have to know the secret handshake to learn, is this:

A writer writes.

That's it.

Doggone it! I let the cat out of the bag again. Listen--when the black helicopters show up, just tell them you don't know anything.

Seriously, though, that's all there is. Write every day, or five days a week, or one day a week, or whatever. Write because you want to, with an eye to improving your skills and putting things on paper that people who don't know you will want to read. Just that makes you a writer and not a wannabe. Getting published, of course, could be a whole different ball of wax. But it sounds like you've already got a pretty good start at that, too. Sounds like you don't have much to worry about.

Now, just make sure the guys in the black helicopters catch you watching TV, or playing a video game or something. They'll never suspect.

HN
 

ATP

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Sorry. There are actually intermediate 'steps', if you will.

A wannabe is one who merely talks about doing it, whatever 'it' maybe.

A writer is one who writes.

A paid writer is one who is published (generally not self-published) - and is probably what is termed a 'mid-list' writer/author.

A paid, recognised writer is one who is one who is paid, probably paid very handsomely, and produces a number of books (NF or fiction), that are published and perhaps reprinted by one of the big publishing houses, and/or attract and develop an audience and following. For novelists, usually the likes of a Grisham or Rowling, and in NF, the likes of a Hawking or a Peters.
 

Sean D. Schaffer

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I'm still a rank newbie/wannabe with nothing but a handful of published articles and an unsold book proposal under my belt.

...Snipped.


If you're actually published, I rather doubt you're a wannabe.

In fact, I would wager to say a wannabe is someone who doesn't take their writing seriously. I was a wannabe, for example, until a couple days ago, because I never took the business of writing seriously. Only now have I begun to take my writing as more than a hobby.

So the fact you're taking your writing serious enough to get articles published and work toward the goal of a book proposal, tells me you're definitely not a wannabe.
 

virtue_summer

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A writer puts the words down on paper. Seriously, this reminds me of a friend I had in high school. She'd come up with all these elaborate ideas for stories and talk your ear off about the characters, the settings, etc. But she never wrote them down! Not one word made it from her head onto the paper. That's a wannabe. She wanted to be a writer. She daydreamed about it and planned all this stuff out, but she didn't do it. That's the difference. It's not just the planning and setting the goal, it's doing the work to reach it.
 

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A wannabe talks a lot about writing. A wannabe has loads of ideas or, conversely, One Huge Idea That Everyone Will Want to Read. A wannabe expects others farther along the path to make it easy for him/her by sharing info and contacts and experience right now, this very minute, hurry up now, because they can't be bothered to look things up and figure things out for themselves.

A writer writes. A writer applies butt to chair and fingers to keys or pen or pencil and writes. A lot.
 

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I hate the word "wannabe." It's so dismissive and insulting. For instance, check how it's used here--basically, to apply to all aspiring writers, even those who write. I try to keep "wannabe" out of my vocabulary entirely.

- Victoria
 

KCathy

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Oh, I didn't mean to offend. I hadn't thought of it as an insulting term. I'd be happy to modify that to "writers and people who want to be writers but aren't." Would that work, or do I still sound too wise-ass about it? I spent 15 years (hey, I started young) talking about being a writer someday before I actually began studying the process and sitting my butt down in front of a keyboard, so I don't mean this in a spiteful way. I ask because ten years from now I don't want to be a want-to-be, or worse yet, a wish-I-had.
 

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If you write and submit work for publication I feel that is what defines a writer. Whether you get accepted or rejected for your efforts doesn't change that fact, as long as you make a continuing effort to write.

Some people have a burning desire to write but I'm not one of these types, at least not yet. I get an idea for a story and draft it out and then I might put it aside for a time. I could never be a freelancer or journalist. It's just not in me and I recognize that. But I keep going back to the stories I draft out and build on them, growing them from a few lines or a paragraph to a complete story.

I'll probably never make writing a full time career but I respect those who can clear that hurdle. It's a high bar to jump. I'll be happy to have a few short stories published every year and perhaps a novel or two someday. Then again, that first 'acceptance letter' might just be enough to turn up the flame and I'll feel the glow the more accomplished of this craft bask in.
 

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In my mind, to become a writer, you have to complete things. A file full of half-written stories does not a writer make.

To be a professional writer, you have to sell what you write.

This year I intend to become a writer. And if I am very lucky, a professional one. And if I am exceedingly lucky, a writer who makes a living at writing.

At this point, the most I would claim is being an aspiring writer.

In the past I was a musician and songwriter. I was never professional and had no aspiration to become professional, so I never entered it on a tax form. But I really played a real instrument, wrote and completed real songs and performed them with other real musicians and played them to real audiences. I wouldn't have called myself a musician while I was still learning to play, or a songwriter before I'd composed a song I was willing to play to an audience. I was still just aspiring... (is that a better term than wannabe?)
 

Silver King

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To be a professional writer, you have to sell what you write.
Maybe. And perhaps that's the benchmark.

But you can still write wonderfully without noted publication in your lifetime (Emily Dickenson) and paint timeless canvases that only your brother would buy (Van Gough).

Some people write without a strong desire for publication. I do.
 

Siddow

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To be a professional writer, you have to sell what you write.

I've been paid. To me, that's not enough to say, "I'm a pro."
I am, however, a writer. AND a wannabe.
I wannabe more.
 

Jamesaritchie

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Wannabe

What do you think separates the writers from the wannabes?

Wannabe writers talk about writing, and may even write every great once in a while, if the mood hits them, or if there's nothing else to do.

Gonnabe writers actually carve out time to write, no matter what. They have a goal, they have a solid work ethic, and they practice BIC almost daily.

A wannabe writer and a professional writer have nothing in common. A gonnabe writer is a professional writer who just hasn't been paid yet.
 

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I have no idea if Im a real writer or a wannabe writer but I think Siddows post hit the nail on the head as well as Jamesaritchie's post.

I know I like to write, and I try to carve out time to do it everyday. Not just blogging, or goofing off on forums, but actually doing the act of writing; pen to paper. I have filled up a notebook over the last three to four weeks. Tomorrow I will go out and purchase another notebook. I don't know if I will ever be published and I honestly don't care if I am or if I'm not. I do know I want to get better at it regardless of who reads it or who doesn't.

So as Siddow said -

I wannabe more.
 

Silver King

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We can always introduce the I Don't Give a Shit Writer who doesn't care one way or another whether he's published or not or sending queries or talking to agents or whatever. He writes because he likes to. He's not trying to set the world on fire, yet strives to quell the flame of words in his soul.
 

limitedtimeauthor

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We can always introduce the I Don't Give a Shit Writer who doesn't care one way or another whether he's published or not or sending queries or talking to agents or whatever. He writes because he likes to. He's not trying to set the world on fire, yet strives to quell the flame of words in his soul.

I wannabe him (again).

But for now, I count my posts on AW as writing! :D But I know that's not the real idea. I should be ashamed of myself, I guess.:gone:

ltd.
 

Judg

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Maybe. And perhaps that's the benchmark.

But you can still write wonderfully without noted publication in your lifetime (Emily Dickenson) and paint timeless canvases that only your brother would buy (Van Gough).

Some people write without a strong desire for publication. I do.
That's why I threw in my little non-story about being a musician. I was that kind of musician, with no ambition to become a pro, but a real musician nonetheless. That's why I didn't say you had to publish to be a real writer. You do have to publish to be a professional writer.

I like James' term gonnabe. That's good.
 

EngineerTiger

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Then of course there are those of us who have been full-time, paid writers for more than 20 years. Many of us have never published a book or an article but someone (usually a company) pays a salary and benefits to us to write manuals, proposals, quality documents, etc. If you communicate to others via the written word (whether it is poetry, a blog, or a series of posts on a forum), you can consider yourself a writer. Think of writing as a craft. Those who TALK about GOING to write, as opposed to actually writing SOMETHING, are wannabes in my view. Those who are just getting their feet wet and have not yet EARNED payment for their writing are definitely writers but could be classed as apprentices.
 

KTC

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Real writers write.

End of story.

Any totem pole posturing is inconsequential. If you write, you are a writer.

ETA: 'wannabe' is someone who says they want to be something, but doesn't actually partake of the action of being it.
 
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