View Full Version : "Writer" v. "Aspiring Writer"

Boobsie Malone
06-12-2004, 07:24 PM
I've been advised to introduce myself as a "Writer" rather than the apologetic "I'm *trying* to be a writer." or "I'm an aspiring writer."

But I've found, more often than not, when I have the confidence to say "I'm a writer," the next question posed to me is "Really? Have you written anything I might have heard of?"

That's where I sort of mumble about the specs I've written for various shows and admit that I'm an aspiring.

So, really, I find it much easier to just say: "I'm an aspiring writer."

I know we had a big long thread about this about two years ago. And two years ago, I believed that we aspirings should always state that we are, in fact, aspirings. Yet, I'm getting this advice from people whom I respect a great deal.

So, what say the masses?

06-12-2004, 07:42 PM
I tell civilians that I'm a "repped but unsold writer". Which of course means absolutely nothing and that I'm still broke... But the "title" is so confusing to them, they mostly don't want to bother figuring out what it means, so they back off with the questions. And besides, it's just too difficult to explain everything.

Thank god I don't live in L.A. :lol

But ultimately, we are writers. We write. F%&! a bunch a of questions. You're a writer. You don't aspire to write every day. I mean, you write. There you go.

06-12-2004, 07:47 PM
well you either write or you don't... an aspiring writer is someone who aspires to one day begin writing. usually they don't.

i aspire to be a successful writer, one who writes every day and loves it, but imho as long as i am writing then i am a writer.

I too get the "Really? Have you written anything I might have heard of?" comment. I tend to reply with "Not yet" and a smile.

It is tough for writers to be confident about their own work, mainly because they are aware of the staggering amount of people out there trying to write. There are always moments of doubt where you debate whether you may infact be one of those delusional people who thinks that their work is great when in fact it is not. But hell as long as you are actually writing, putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard, then you are a writer. The process of writing is more than what 90% of aspiring writers actually do.

Selling something or being published is really the icing on the cake. But just as a cake without icing is still a cake, a writer without a sale is still a writer. (how's that for the worst piece of imagery of the year? lol)

06-12-2004, 07:52 PM
Maybe it's just me, but I've found it's easiest like this:

Them: What do you do?

Me: I'm a writer.

Them: Really? Anything I've heard of?

Me: Yes. Star Wars.

And just leave it at that.


06-12-2004, 08:08 PM
For me, it depends.


JOE: What do you do?
ME: I'm a failed writer.
JOE: Oh, I see. Hope things look up for you.
ME: Yeah...


JOE: What do you do?
ME: What do we all do? Write screenplays.
JOE: Yeah, tell me about it.
ME: Okay. It's like this. Back...
JOE: Whoa, whoa... That's a figure of expression. I don't want to know about your screenplays.


JOSEPHINE: What do you do?
ME: I'm a screenwriter.
JOSEPHINE: Cool. Anything I might've seen?
ME: Well, I have a deal with a Sony producer and I am at ICM.
JOSEPHINE: That's so cool.
ME: Yeah. Isn't it?
JOSEPHINE: Yeah, my boyfriend's got a three pic deal at Sony and he's repped by CAA.
ME: Um... I'm gonna go get a soda.


AGENT: What are you doing?
ME: I'm a screenwriter.
AGENT: Not yet, you're not.

Okay, I made all this up. I don't know why I lie to you folks. I feel like I've earned your trust and I abuse it. Sorry.

06-12-2004, 08:21 PM
Well I had never really thought about it. I think I'm going to drop the "aspiring" all together, you're right - it comes off apologetic. I feel stronger just thinking it.

I'm a big one for speaking positive words to create positive events, so from now on I'm a "writer".

And if someone asks me if I've done anything they might have heard of I'll employ a cheeky "not yet".

06-12-2004, 08:24 PM
Hmm... Cheeky. Nothing wrong with a writer showin a little cheek. ;)

William Haskins
06-12-2004, 08:44 PM
not trying to be snarky, but my honest opinion is that it matters far less how you identify yourself to others then how you see yourself. if your self-identity, past a certain age, is an aspiring anything, you take on something of a walter mitty air.

unless there are professional ramifications to the conversation, i usually avoid the whole mess by just saying i'm on parole and i'm trying hard to get that whole "voices in my head" thing together.

T Ziegler
06-12-2004, 09:09 PM
I've wrestled with this one, but for a more specific reason --

If I just want to identify myself as a writer, I have no problem saying "I'm a writer." I am; I write stuff. Published or produced doesn't come into it for me with that title. I'll probably need to explain it further, but it's certainly not inaccurate or inflated.

My issue comes in that, in industry contexts, I like to identify my career interest in television writing specifically. (Not sure why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that everyone assumes all writers in Hollywood want to write films.) However, no matter how I try, I simply can't bring myself to say "I'm a television writer." It's undeniably misleading, and the understandable follow-up question ("oh, what show do you write for?") is an even worse one to have to answer:

"Uh, right now I'm writing for 'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.' But they don't know it, I'm not getting paid for it, and my episode will never air."

In other circles, that's known as a delusion, and there are medications for it.

So, yeah, I usually say "I'm an aspiring television writer."

We put so much emphasis, when we meet someone, on "what do you do?" and it's a question that rarely has a simple answer. But that's part of the point, isn't it? Isn't the question really a conversation STARTER? Wouldn't we expect that most people will, regardless of how we answer, ask follow-up questions? I find that I almost always have to ask people more questions after the initial "what do you do?" And it's usually interesting to learn more about their job and/or career, how and why they got into it, etc. And quite often, not what I would have expected.

So, my conclusion is -- I don't worry about it too much. Aspiring isn't a bad word, and doesn't necessarily indicate a lack of self-esteem (although I agree it can sound hesitant and overly-noncommittal). Perhaps we should all use the word we like to bandy about on this board: "Pre-professional." I would really like to see someone's reaction when I tell them "I'm a pre-professional one-hour episodic television writer." ("And I'll have a half-caff with a twist of lemon.")

Wondering idly if only writers fret this much over getting just right the wording of their job description,


06-12-2004, 09:15 PM
Wondering idly if only writers fret this much over getting just right the wording of their job descriptionNo doubt, TZ. Wordings R Us.

06-12-2004, 09:18 PM
One of the very first things Michael Hauge teaches in his seminar is:

"From this moment on, you ARE a screenwriter. When anyone asks, you tell them, I AM A SCREENWRITER."

I'm taking that claim to my grave.


v i o l e n t c a s e s
06-12-2004, 09:54 PM
the best thing you can do, even AFTER you are successful, is to lie about what you do.

person: what do you do?
me: i am a gynecologist/reverend/health worker/counselor/freedom fighter/blogger.

or you can just say you're a poet which basically means writer no one has heard of, anyway. :|

06-12-2004, 10:36 PM
To paraphrase a friend of mine (a former DD regular):

"You can call yourself whatever you want, but that doesn't necessarily make it real."

(Actually, I have two friends who used to be DD regulars who've said about the same thing. For those who've been around a while, one had a username that started with a "W" (at least, his last one) and one that started with a "Z".)

Postal Pictures
06-12-2004, 10:39 PM
Just say you're a philosopher. I doubt that'll get many questions and if anyone asks about that just give them a long-winded response that goes nowhere.

Then think. Think. Think about writing.

Unca Leo
06-12-2004, 10:47 PM
When people ask me what I do, I say to them: 'Have you ever heard of Zeppo Marx?" Most folks reply that they have. Then I curse at them and drop my pants. That usually takes care of the questioning.

06-12-2004, 10:51 PM
Then I curse at them and drop my pants. That usually takes care of the questioning.By which time the proper articulation of your job description is the least of your problems. :eek

06-12-2004, 11:24 PM
I also hear it's good practice to identify yourself as what you want to be.

You want to be a writer? Call yourself a writer. So you want to be a drag queen - then by god order some business cards and get into some pumps.

Personally, I introduce myself as Alan Ball or Jessica Simpson - depending on my mood.

Done Deal
06-13-2004, 12:29 AM
I've tended to stay out of this discussion because of mine own personal feelings on the subject of saying who and what you are.

But I will offer this suggestion. One approach you might want to consider is this... When someone asks you what you do and you want to say you are a writer, then do so. BUT, beat them to the punch on the second part.

In otherwords:

PERSON: Hi, I'm Tom. What's your name.

YOU: My, name is (your name here).

PERSON: So what do you do?

YOU: I'm a writer. I haven't set anything yet (and I'm not represented) but I've finished a few scripts so far that I'm proud of. I hope to get something sold soon.

Or something like that. This way there is no awkward follow up question for them to ask. You've identified yourself as a writer and you've covered the next two or three questions they probably would have asked you. And if they are interested in your material or might be able to help you, the door has been left open for them to do so.

06-13-2004, 12:58 AM
Some people are what they do, and others do what they are.

When I am posed that question, I invariably say, "a wanderer, a poet and a drunkard." (Hey, it worked with a senator's daughter)

06-13-2004, 01:29 AM
cripe, people act like not being successful is something to be ashamed of. Would that mean your ashamed of your profession that you want to be successful in?

Writing is process and an aspect thing, which I'm sure a lot don't understand. Writing has scores of guidelines to it, enough to make your head spin.

You don't have to say that your aspiring. you can come out and say that your a writer, which you are, and your trying to be successful. Nothing wrong with that.

People don't see how difficult it is to just write. The only thing they wan't to see is the end result. Most of everything that goes into writing is not tangible and its hard for people to see what you go through to create what your creating. Because most of writing is so intangible and the fact that people really don't understand what goes into it makes it more difficult for writers to have people understand them and what they go through.

Some times being straight forward with people about how hard it is being a writer and what is entailed to being a writer to other people is necessary because when a person says that they are a writer or someone else is a writer people get this impression that writers are people who are pumped out of school or college like puppies being pumped out, like as if its no big deal. So thats why people really don't have th respect that should be given to writers.

A lot of things about writers can't be seen, while at the same time there is a ton of incorrect assumptions about writers which causes it to naturally be a sad situation and the writers all ways get the worst of it.

Don't you wish that people could understand what you have been through to become a writer and what you go through to be a writer. But the sad fact is that they don't care unless you become or are successful.

Besides that I can't understand how a person is a failure before they are a success. Doesn't a person have to succeed first and then fail to be a failure. this failure stuff before being a success is really odd and strange. Its like standing in one spot and people teling you "you didn't get any where". well of course, you didn't move.

Its almost like a bad karma fate for writers to go through this kind of stuff.

For sum unknown reason, when a person says " I'm a writer" that it's suppose to be connected to success of money and popularity. But thats a lot of bull @#%$. Your a writer and thats it.

Yet, it wouldn't be so bad if people wouldn't look down on writers who haven't made it. There are millions upon millions of "writers" in the united states.

If your worried about the success failure thing you could always write a piece for a local mag or paper and sell it to them and that would take care of the being successful aspect.

Or you could just write a piece and send it to numerous papers and hope they will publish it for you even though you don't get paid for it and this way you can turn around and say "hey, i got this piece put in this paper"

That will screw up any view of you being a failure as a writer.

After that you can feel better about your self and move on. the hardest part of being a writer isn't being a writer but facing this success/failure thing. People equate the success of their writing with money. Pretty typical

I superficially targeted after that success/failure thing so to help people over come it because I know that that is a hard thing to over come.

The only people who are an aspiring writer are those who are learning to write. you are a writer, i'm a writer. Ive never sold anything and I've never had anything published but i don't feel like a failure because i'm not.

Your a writer and never be ashamed of saying so.

Being awriter is one thing.

Being successful at getting money for what you write is a completely different matter.

In most cases neither have to do with the other.

It would be like saying a person who spells bad can't create a story.

06-13-2004, 02:37 AM
When Robert Rodriguez was asked in an interview: "What advice do you have for aspiring filmakers?"

He said: "Just call yourself a filmaker and start shooting"

So I guess you should juts call yourself a writer, and start writing.

06-13-2004, 02:55 AM
I tend to use the verb form:

Q: "What do you do?"
A: "I write."

Which usually leads to, "Oh, what do you write?" -- which is a whole different conversation.

-----------------------One of the many reasons you should never listen to dpat ~PipeWriter

06-13-2004, 03:25 AM
dp, I figured you would throw beer on them.

06-13-2004, 03:31 AM
I really wonder if hese people who adjust themself regarding what to say to people when other people ask them what they do for a living or just what they do, are more concerned about status and positon than beinga writer.

do you understand this?

Im trying to see if there is a link between being a writer and the guideline of being sucessful or a "so called failure" on one end and what a person who is a writer says and how they feel when talking to others about their career on the other end.

Know what I mean?

Evil Elf the One and Only
06-13-2004, 04:32 AM
Most people are just trying to make conversation, and at the start are pretty much hoping to be able to compliment you, cuz that makes you like them. So they ask if you've written anything they've heard of so they can say, "that's cool," and you give them warm fuzzies. That's all. When they say they're an accountant they don't really figure you'll have heard of any of their audits. Remembering that is a good ego booster.

If you write, you're a writer. If you've written anything I've heard of, good for you unless it sucked, which is a whole 'nother conversation. But nobody really expects you to be a famous writer. There's enough glamour in just being a writer, at least for most people. In industry circles in LA of course, things are different, and you can't do better than "not yet."

Papa Cap
06-13-2004, 05:31 AM
If you go out and drag race people out on the street, you're not a race car driver. If you discuss movies with friends/co-workers/whoever, you're not a film critic.

There's a certain implied connotation whenever you discuss a profession. It assumes you've been paid for it. Therefore, I'll be the first to admit, I'm unemployed.


BTW-I've shot my own independent feature and I've never once told anyone I'm a filmmaker...even at film festivals-- holy crap...I just realized something. I HAVE sold copies of my film (like 3 or 4). I am a filmmaker! YIPPEE!

Evil Elf the One and Only
06-13-2004, 06:19 AM
Well come on now. Nobody ever says "I'm an aspiring entrepreneur" which is the parallel to what a writer would say. Even Miss Manners says you can answer the "what do you do" question by saying what you DO, rather than what you make most of your money for doing. Look at house spouses. When asked what they do, they say something like "I look after the Four Year Old Of Doom," they don't say "I remain married," which is really the source of their income, technically speaking.

If you were a car mechanic who wasn't raking in the big bucks, if you were a retiree who spent most of his time feeding birds, if you were a student who made money by painting houses, you'd still be within your rights to identify yourself by what you do and what you live, rather than where your money comes from. Chevy Chase never says "I'm the heir to a toilet fortune," but he is. *insert catty remark of your choice here*

Click Me! Click Me! (http://terminalcity.diary-x.com)

Papa Cap
06-13-2004, 08:27 AM
Look at house spouses.
Uh. This ain't a profession. It's a social state (yeah, I know this may ruffle some feathers).
if you were a retiree who spent most of his time feeding birds
This ain't a profession, either.
If you were a car mechanic who wasn't raking in the big bucks
You'd be an underpaid or really bad mechanic.
if you were a student who made money by painting houses
Yes, you would be a painter. There are differing qualities to any profession.
Chevy Chase never says "I'm the heir to a toilet fortune," but he is.
It's cause he's made money by 1) comedy 2) acting. He would consider himself a comedian/actor.

Actually, your perspective is more optimistic than mine. By your logic, I am a cinematographer-writer-director-recordist-actor-musician-computer tech-car repairman-painter-carpenter-camera op-master control operator-editor-plumber-lawn care tech-pool boy-lawn motor mechanic-car stereo installer-business owner-manager-et al since I've done these things successfully in life. I wonder why I can't get a job? :D


Hmm...now that I think about it, I've been paid to do most of those things. :rolleyes

06-13-2004, 08:31 AM
Oh my, where's all the drama?

The last time this topic was brought up -- all hell broke out. Now... it's so peaceful I'm falling asleep halfway through the thread.

Here's my opinion on this topic:

"If you write, you are a writer."

-- A professional writer once said this statement is lofty, spiritual, idealistic and philosophic, but the business doesn't recognize this as a viable commodity.

His position was that a non-pro should refer to themselves as an "aspiring writer" until they've been validated by a sale, and then they can call themselves a writer.

I say, "If you write, you are a writer" is correct, but, of course, there are different levels of expertise.

Someone just declaring themselves a writer and telling the business I'm ready to work, no the business won't recognize this as a commodity. They will recognize a great script and it won't matter if it came from a non-pro without any previous sales, or a professional.

For example, say there are two writers who sent their scripts off to the same production company, hypothetical scripts called "Casablanca" and "Dude, Where's My Car."

The production company was looking for a comedy to target young males, so they bought "Dude, Where's My Car." Does this man the guy who wrote "Casablanca" still has to refer to himself as an aspiring writer, and not a writer just because he hasn't connected with the right production company yet?

There were great novelists who never sold before they died. Should they have referred to themselves as aspiring writers?

&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp PARTY GUEST
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp What do you do?

&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp WRITER
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Right now, I'm supporting my
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp writing career by waiting tables.

Some might say, “Why the hell would you ever want to tell someone you are a screenwriter?"

As non-pros struggling to break in, we need to let the outside world know we are screenwriters with completed scripts. You never know whom that person might be that asks, "What do you do?" He could be connected to the business or knows someone in the business.

Telling this person you're a wannabe or aspiring screenwriter sounds so lame and weak when you’re trying to present yourself as someone who knows how to write an entertaining and compelling story.

I met a guy where I went through the above scenario and it turned out he was studying film at Columbia University. I always carry my script with me because here in New York there's a chance to cross paths with someone in the business. I showed the guy my script and he loved it. He asked permission to take it to a friend of his in L.A. who’s a producer.

See my point?

Telling someone I'm a screenwriter, meaning someone who writes stories for the screen, doesn't mean I'm a big liar because I never sold anything yet and should've said, "I'm an aspiring screenwriter."

I am a screenwriter who aspires to get noticed and break into the business, doing it professionally.


Floor to ceiling windows with a panoramic view of Los Angeles. MR. STUDIO EXECUTIVE, late 30s, clothed in Armani’s finest, sits behind a humongous desk.

The secretary escorts Bob in.

Mr. Studio Executive springs up from his chair and greets Bob with a big smile and strong handshake.

&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp MR. STUDIO EXECUTIVE
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Bob, congratulations on your Nicholl
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp win. I hear you’re one hell of a
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp screenwriter.

&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp BOB
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp No, no, no. I’m an aspiring
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp screenwriter.

Papa Cap
06-13-2004, 09:23 AM
Telling this person you're a wannabe or aspiring screenwriter sounds so lame and weak when you’re trying to present yourself as someone who knows how to write an entertaining and compelling story.
That's a very good point, Joe. But telling someone you're a screenwriter to get contacts/do business and BELIEVING you're a screenwriter and going around telling everybody that are two different animals. For whatever reasons, I do not and will not consider myself a screenwriter until I get paid for it (and if you say, "I'll give you a dollar for your screenplay. There, you're a writer"...I'll take the buck, but still won't believe it). I'm not saying this is the right outlook for anyone but me...maybe it's some kinda weird validation thing. I dunno. Shrink is something I've never done b-4.


06-13-2004, 10:18 AM
Lately, I've been taking the operational approach. Sure--I'm a "writer." I've got completed screenplays to show it. But what is it I'm trying to do? Really trying to accomplish? Pinning my hopes on? What is it I think about every day as I'm working on these damn things?

I'm trying to sell one to a studio. (Yeah--that's where I'm at now. I rarely let myself go so far as pinning my hopes on seeing a produced movie anymore. I'll indulge that dream once again when I sell one.)

So now I just say, "I'm trying to sell a screenplay to the studios/or Hollywood..." They can picture that right away--a guy trying to sell something. And everybody in the world knows about the movie business more or less. That statement let's them know you haven't sold one yet, either, but you're working on it.

Often, this provokes questions like, "Oh, you're a writer? You write screenplays? How'd you learn to do that?" Followed up by more specific questions about what kind of movie you've written or how you go about selling something like that etc. Then the conversation is off and running, past the point of what your are or do almost without notice...and you can fill in whatever relevant details you have to share or the listener seems sincerely interested in knowing.

06-13-2004, 10:25 AM
This is just like the business card thing from way back. The issue here is about self-image and honesty more than political correctness.

Never put anything on the front of a business card you don't want to immediately respond to in detail. If you don't own a company that produces product and generates profit, then don't insult my intelligence with "President", "Owner", and such. A home printer can print anything, and everyone knows it.

If you are not an established writer, IMO ONLY, I would put only my name and contact# on the card. A memorable logo is always good. If you have a regular full-time job, I would mention it so they won't think you are idiotic enough to live in L.A. without a job while you make it as a writer.

I agree "aspiring" is very watered down. However, there is "professional". Professionals write for a living...i.e. full-time. Of course being unemployed and writing does not make you a professional, either, just broke; unless you are married to someone supporting your efforts....truly a rare blessing.

You can't fool people who are inside the industry. So don't try.

I think you should actually be calculating in each every situation to maximize the impression you leave with people in the industry. This begins and ends with honesty.

Are you from a program? Do you work with or are currently with any established and respected writers as mentors? What legimate successes have you had besides contests no one heard of? Can you be enthusiastic about your prospects even without current success? Are you armed with at least two strong concepts or pitches?

It's your conviction and maturity about where you currently are without making lame excuses/lies that will leave the main impression about you with other people. That impression will be what opens doors when you do have work that is viable and industry ready. People love to help people who understand the business of relationships and are willing to work hard at their chosen craft.

Will had a great approach. Just include the answer to the next question in the first response and everything is clear without that "I've got this going on, I've got that going on" BS that NO ONE is interested in hearing unless they ask. If they don't they are not interested.

Be proud of what and where you are. Don't get hung up on labels and what effect they may or may not have. It's all in the mirror.

JakeSchuster aka Ostroff
06-13-2004, 10:33 AM
Back in my novelist days, conversations would often go like this:

"So you're a writer. Write anything good?"
And my reply would be: "No, I just produce crap."

At a bookstore reading, my book prominently in view, a woman raised her hand. "Are you John Grisham?"
Then came the second stupidest question I've ever received:
"Are you sure?"

06-13-2004, 01:45 PM
Its the ignorence of people who aren't writers who are screwing all of this up. Oh well. But then again it goes smoother with some and not with others.

06-13-2004, 03:44 PM
I say, "I'm supposed to be a screenwriter."

Which I am supposed to be.

You remember God, when I began this quest and promised to work hard and never give up? You remember that? You remember how I promised to do good things with any success and influence that may come my way?

I've been holding up my end of the bargain and I've asked, yet not recieved. I've followed "never give up." I've followed "what you can conceive and believe, you will achieve." I've given money to charity and been kind to children. I've worked hard to develop my talent and despite really being close to career making moments, you just can't make it happen, can you?! Can you!?!?! You just won't help me out. Come on already!!!! I'm tired of telling people what I'm supposed to be based on my god given talent. I want to say "screenwriter." And then have no awkward moments.

Still working hard, being good, always believing. Can you help me out please? Thank you. Amen. Sorry for yelling earlier. I love you and trust in your plan for me. Please let it be a screenwriter. Thanks again.

06-13-2004, 04:34 PM
I think in that old thread I wrote that I used to say "I work in a warehouse, but I'm trying to break into the film biz as a screenwriter" (or something like that).

But basically - it never came up.

I've come to believe it's a good idea to tell people what you're after - you never know when they may have some weird connection that can help you. But you don't want to be pushy about it.

- Bill

Evil Elf the One and Only
06-13-2004, 06:39 PM
PapaCap, maybe the fact that you don't believe you're a screenwriter has something to do with the fact that nobody will buy your script. Try it my way and see what happens.

And Chevy Chase has made more money by being the heir to a toilet fortune than he ever did as an actor, so what does that make him? An actor.

Non-Hollywood Blog of a Writer (http://terminalcity.diary-x.com)

Manilow in Blue
06-13-2004, 11:14 PM
Call yourself a writer or don't.

If you are a writer, the people will believe you.

If you aren't a writer, they will nod politely all the while thinking "God, ANOTHER one."

It's just another case of the writer letting himself/herself be defined by other people.

The Problem Solver
06-14-2004, 04:22 AM
There's no shame in this game.

Papa Cap
06-14-2004, 06:29 AM
PapaCap, maybe the fact that you don't believe you're a screenwriter has something to do with the fact that nobody will buy your script. Try it my way and see what happens.
Wow. This is a nasty thing to say. I'll tell you what. When you sell a script (for more than a buck)/raise money to finance your own film/actually complete something instead of talking about it, I'll take you up on this.
And Chevy Chase has made more money by being the heir to a toilet fortune than he ever did as an actor, so what does that make him? An actor.
Being an "heir" is not a profession. It's a social state. For example, Paris Hilton's profession is not "trust fund baby." It's model. Topic of discussion...professions. Hey, I just disagree...let it go.

06-14-2004, 08:33 AM
It's a psychological thing. There are plenty of people who believe that calling yourself something is a key step in making it real – that if you call yourself a "wanna-be" or an "aspiring writer" that's what you are. Those are generally the people who tell writers to call themselves "writers" in no uncertain terms, as if the naming will make it so.

Naturally, when we are talking to industry insiders of whatever kind, we feel like we're lying by using the title without some kind of outside validation (a sale, an option, a contest win or an agent or manager). I kinda think those are the people with whom it's even more important to call yourself a screenwriter, because those are the people you want to believe it more than anyone else. If you then go on to qualify it in some way, fine, but start on the high ground.

Personally, I call myself either "a hack" or "a creative jack-of-all-trades."

06-14-2004, 09:12 AM
I know someone who did was looking for scripts recently. He works at an indie film company in NYC. He said that 99% of the scripts he received were not even properly formatted.

If you call yourself an aspiring screenwriter, you'll make yourself sound like you're a part of that 99% that this guy got.

As for other professions go, well, even people who are still at the university who study various engineering professions still call themselves engineers. And rightfully so, they have worked on a number of projects in their class.

Before they make it big, actors don't go to auditions or put on their resumes "aspiring actor". Either you are one, or you aren't one.

In the entertainment industry, a lot of people have started out in low or no paying gigs before they work there way up to something substantial.

Webster's dictionary defines writer as one who writes.

And keep in mind every successful writer was at one point unproduced or unpublished.

06-14-2004, 01:21 PM
He said that 99% of the scripts he received were not even properly formatted.

You can't be a plumber without a pipe wrench, you aren't a brain surgeon without a bone saw, and you can't be a screen writer without proper tools. The correct tool for formatting is of course software.

Sure, there are many people on these boards or in the business that know formatting in their head. And there are software of various costs for the rest of us. I'll even bet there is a child progeny out there that can scribble a script out with crayons on colored construction paper and make a seven figure sale. For the rest of there is always Script Werx.

(and yes, I know that it is child prodigy, but ever since I read that in a Calvin and Hobbes, it has stuck with me.)

Evil Elf the One and Only
06-14-2004, 04:00 PM
PapaCap: It wasn't hostility, honestly. It was a suggestion to change your mindset and see what happened. Any self-help book worth the paper it's printed on will tell you that visualization comes before realization, and that goals that are articulated are more likely to be achieved. That's where I was going with that; seriously, it wasn't my intention to be insulting. Sorry about that.

And we started not by discussing the narrow definition of a profession, but by wondering if the response to "what do you do" was correctly "I'm a writer" or "I'm an aspiring writer". It got deflected to a discussion of "profession" but it didn't start out there. We're still basically talking about the answer to the question "what do you do?"

I write. I'm a writer. I'm a published writer who averages an article a day. I'm not a screenwriter yet, but if that was what I spent most of my time doing, if that was what I thought of as my identity and occupation, then that's what I'd call myself, regardless of how much money I'd make at it.

Blog of a Writer (http://terminalcity.diary-x.com)

Papa Cap
06-15-2004, 05:33 AM
Sorry about the miscommunication, Elf...it's one of the downfalls of communicating via text.

Grats on being published and I look forward to seeing your work on the big screen some day (or at least on DVD).


06-15-2004, 02:51 PM
Nobody will ever GIVE you the title of writer. Either you take it or don't. Either you're a writer who does soem other day job to pay bills or you're a (fill in the blank) who writes when he/she can.

I leave it up to you to decide wish -- I already have.

Now, if you don't have the chops to back it up, that's another matter entirely.

06-15-2004, 07:09 PM
if you want to avoid the low self esteem implications of "aspiring" but don't want self-esteem pummeling the "what show do you write for" question, just say "I'm trying to breaking in to TV writing." Doesn't that sound much more active and noble than "aspiring"? And the slightly criminal implications of "breaking in" will leave them frightened yet strangely excited. Suddenly your the person who isn't afraid to go after his dreams instead of a pathetic dreamer.

A photog friend of mine uses a more verbose way of dealing with the unanswered questions. He says "I'm a photographer and I make my living working for a brokerage house."