The general message seems to be that if you try to do all the things those professional (read, published) writers do then you should consider yourself a writer. After all, you're not sat there talking about writing a book, you're actually getting on with it and the sweat from the effort is visible on every fibre of your being. I do appreciate this sentiment and yet I'm still calling myself an aspiring writer. Why?
Well, firstly, I don't want to mislead anyone. If someone happens across this blog or my Twitter page I would rather they didn't mistake me for what I'm not. Is this because I consider myself a failure? No, because you can't fail at what you haven't really tried yet. I confess, I haven't submitted my novels yet but I will. Maybe when I'm going through the submission process I'll feel more comfortable about calling myself a writer with no prefix.
Another aspect of this is that calling myself 'aspiring' keeps me on my toes. I have a desperate urge to shed the self-imposed label. Every time I see my Twitter profile I'm reminded of my goals. At least this way I can never forget them.
Yes, I do all of the things Ami Hendrickson suggests make me a writer with no prefix: I monitor my daily word counts, I love my characters to bits, I criticise every bit of television and film I see in terms of bad plot, bad characterisation and ridiculous occurrences (you should hear my thoughts on Glee). And maybe I should let go of the tag for those very good reasons she listed but I can't.
It's personal preference and probably has more than a little to do with my low self-esteem. But what are you going to do? You can only be what you feel you are. And maybe I should listen to that advice in every facet of my life for good measure.