In defence of wannabe writers

Referring to someone as a ‘wannabe’ writer (or a ‘wannabe’ anything) is insulting.  It’s definitely used in writing circles to refer to those who aren’t really going to contribute to a group.  I’ve used it myself.  We don’t want wannabes in this group, because we want to talk about ‘real writing’, etc.

Occasionally, I attend an excellent beginners group that meets in local pub, and I’d certainly recommend it.  It has its share of wannabes, I suppose.  Rather difficult to spot them, because people contribute so well, but I’d guess they are there.  I’ve certainly met wannabes on writing courses.  There’s always one or two, who you think ‘they’re never going to write anything’.  They just talk about writing.

I’ve met the equivalent on film courses: those who haven’t written their blockbuster script yet, but have memorised their Oscar acceptance speech.

So, I want to be in a writing group that doesn’t have any wannabes.

I’m being unfair, I know I am, and yet…

Of course, there ought to be a range of groups.  You can find one that’s not too hot, not too cold, not too salty, not too sweet, but is just the right distance from the star for your kind of life.  No point trying to discuss Indie Publishing marketing strategy with someone who’s asking where you get your ideas from and vice versa.  (“I want to know where you get your ideas from, but you all just sit around saying you don’t have a proper marketing strategy!!!”)

Clearly, after a while, perhaps you’ll need to be promoted to a higher league or, in my case demoted a league to learn about commas yet again.  Or a new idea may need one approach and rewriting another set of opinions.

There are obviously professional writers, those who make a living out of writing down to those who make a few bucks a year.  (Bucks, because we all sell on Amazon.)  There’s also professional in terms of approach: those who approach the task with the right attitude.  They may not make any money – yet – but they seem to be going about it in the right way.


  • Professional-professional – pick a crime writer.
  • Professional-amateur – gets paid loads for just messing about (hate them).
  • Amateur-professional – works at it, but hasn’t made dollar one, yet.
  • Amateur-amateur – somewhat hopeless.
  • Wannabe – er…

You see, they don’t quite fit into the scheme, do they?  It’s someone who attends a group or course, usually diligently, and talks about the novel they are planning, but doesn’t put fingertip to key.

But I’m being unfair (and so are others, hint, hint).

Part of being a child is playing and part of playing is daydreaming.  However, once we become adults, we’re not allowed to daydream.  It’s a waste of time, you must be serious, get a job!

But, for quite a lot of my time, I’m entertaining myself in my own head, and it’s called ‘writing’.  Some of it is dry technical stuff, the blood seeping from the forehead, the agony of repetitive strain injury, the damage to the liver that inspiration extorts and so on, but most of the time it’s daydreaming.  Flicking to channel ‘steampunk’ and watching the mental movie unfold.  And it’s fun.

Now, if you can do that without all the dreadful hard work of typing, then why not?

Except you are an adult.

So, do a writing course or join a writing group, and you are given permission.

And that seems a good thing to me.


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