This is an actual conversation I had:
Me: So, what kind of stuff do you like to do?
Other Person: I’m a writer.
Me: Really? That’s great! What do you write? Or do you have more than one project?
Other Person: No, just the one. I like to devote myself fully to an idea. I’ve got this epic cycle, where the fate of worlds hangs in the balance*. It draws on the philosophies of Buddha and Richard Dawkins. It’s incredible.
Me: Wow, that’s a hell of an undertaking. How far along are you?
Other Person: Oh, I haven’t started. But I’ve been thinking about it for a decade.
Other Person: It’s going to be awesome.
Other Person, you are not a writer. You have not written, ergo you are not a writer. You’re a thinker, and, you know, congratulations on that. I hear Rodin did a sculpture of you. But until the moment you put pen to paper or fingers to keys**, you are not a writer.
You are a fake.
You’re like a person who calls themselves a fighter pilot because they’ve seen Top Gun 400 times. If thinking about things was all it took to be allowed to call yourself by their title, I would by now be an expert marksman, world-class trauma surgeon, and have the ability to communicate telepathically with machines. But, alas, I am not. And I don’t go around pretending to be.***
We all have the potential to do things. But, until we do them, that’s all it is: potential.
You want to be a writer? Go write. Then you are a writer. You might not be a published writer, or a financially independent writer, or even a good writer. But those are qualifiers. You’ve written: you are a fucking writer. Congratulations.
Until then, stop wasting my time.
*All right, I can’t actually remember what they said. But it was some variant of ‘big thing that will take the rest of my life’.
**Or, given the timeline this guy is on, put brain to the Automatic Thought Enscribing Machine.
***Except when I try to take control of the back hoes at construction sites.