7 Things You Can’t Claim to be Unless You’ve Done a Substantial Amount of It

I’ve only just grown comfortable with calling myself a writer, my amount of published articles for Planet Ivy have now hit double figures and I’ve written more than twenty film reviews now for CUEAFS as well as being published on a couple of other websites including Opinion Panel and Movie Ramblings. It wasn’t really until my article ’10 Things that Make Horror Films Unrealistic’ was included as number 2 on the 5 Must Read Horror Articles on This is Horror that I thought to myself ‘now I can call myself a writer!’.

There are lots of things you can’t claim to be unless you’ve done a substantial amount of that thing, here’s seven of them.

writer computer x51. Writer

I’ve brushed over this one already because it applies to me, but I honestly believe that you can’t class yourself as a writer until you’ve been published more than, say, five times. And I don’t really think you can call yourself a writer until you’re published regularly on at least one platform. Also it has to be a regular thing, you’re not a writer if you’ve had four things published but they date back twenty years ago and have five years in between each of them…it has to be regular.

2. FilmmakerAD20111110724743-The filmmaker A

This is something I don’t call myself. It’s kind of the same as calling yourself an actor, you’re not a filmmaker because you made one short film (or even a handful of them). You’re not really a filmmaker until you do it regularly. Also I think  you have to have made at least three short films (or features, whatever) independently; one or two doesn’t make you a filmmaker.

jobs_actor3. Actor

I think being an actor has less to do with how much you’ve done and more to do with how often  you do it. To be able to actually call yourself an actor is a similar principle to the writing thing I talked about in point 1; you have to be doing it regularly. Say two people who have only acted in three things claim to be actors, one person’s three things were all within the last year or so, and the other one has been in two things that were a substantial amount of time ago and one that was recently, number 1 can call themselves an actor, the other can’t. There’s a difference between being in front of the camera on occasion and actually being an actor.

4. Singersinger

Lots of people can sing. Lots of people have good singing voices. The difference between someone who can sing and a singer is that a singer would be actively trying to pursue a singing career while someone who can sing might upload the odd Youtube video whilst studying to be a vet (or something not related to singing). If you’re not singing regularly and aiming for a career as a singer, then you’re not a singer you’re just one of many people who can sing.

player-wearing-sunglasses5. Player/Slut

Not related to a career, you can’t be a player/slut or whatever the word is these days for someone that sleeps around if you’ve slept with less than ten people. Sorry but that just isn’t a thing. If you slept with those ten people in one week, then that’s a different story, but if it’s 1-10 people within a year then no, sorry, you’re not a ‘player’ (or is it ‘playa’?) nor are you a slut…so stop going around bragging about how much a slut you are. Also, hooking up one night with a randomer doesn’t make you a slut/player either unless this kind of thing happens every weekend.

6. Animal Loverboy-with-his-dog

If you’ve never done anything to try and help the animals that you claim to love then you can’t call yourself an animal lover. If you’ve never donated to an animal charity, adopted a pet in need of a home, volunteered, rescued an animal or tried to change your lifestyle to be more animal-friendly then you’re not an animal lover. You can scoff your beef wearing your fur coat and leather shoes and claim that you’re an animal lover because you say ‘aww’ every time you see a baby animal but no, no you’re not. You have to actually gain the right to say you’re an animal lover by actually doing something to show it. It’s not enough to merely care about something, you actually have to do something, even if it’s just dropping a pound coin into an RSPCA collection pot every now and then. I once knew someone who would kick her dog regularly whilst on a walk, jab it in the ribs with a walking stick with every step and smack it with a plastic tennis ball thrower, the dog always looked miserable; but on her car she had a sticker that said ‘I Love German Shepherds’ so that made it OK….apparently.

People_Children_Young_artist_023259_7. Artist

I’m not an artist just because I paint every now and then, and that’s the same for everyone. Kind of like being a writer, actor or singer being an artist boils down to whether or not it’s the focus of your career, and how often you do it. You can draw, paint or collage to your hearts content but you’re not an artist unless it’s pretty much all you do and it’s what you intend to do as a career someday.


16 thoughts on “7 Things You Can’t Claim to be Unless You’ve Done a Substantial Amount of It

  1. “I once knew someone who would kick her dog regularly whilst on a walk, jab it in the ribs with a walking stick with every step and smack it with a plastic tennis ball thrower”



  2. I agree you need to do a substantial amount of something to call yourself that thing, but I disagree a lot on what you consider to be prerequisites. A lot of your prerequisites are to claim to be a professional “so-and-so,” but I think amateurs have the right to refer to themselves as such, especially in fields relating to art. Look at Emily Dickinson. She wrote poetry all her life and stuck it in a drawer. It wasn’t until after her death that she got published when her sister found her work. Prior to her death though, she was most certainly a writer.


    1. Yeah she could call herself a writer but you have to do a lot of it first…which was what I meant. Like, I paint quite a lot but I wouldn’t call myself an artist unless I did it really regularly…I paint something once or twice a year so that doesn’t make me an artist, if that makes sense.


  3. I agree with everything you said except for one niggly point: There are writers who write one great book and never write anything of note again … Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee come to mind. Authoring and writing are ever so slightly different. I’m a writer, Harper Lee was an author.


  4. Good post, Natasha. I may not always agree on exactly where the line is to be drawn, but I agree that there’s a line in all cases… and in several more. I’m a programmer, and I wouldn’t consider somebody else a programmer unless they’ve been doing it for a few years and have completed at least three non-trivial projects. (And you don’t get to call yourself a hacker until you know enough not to.)

    And regardless of the field, you don’t get to call yourself a professional until it’s your primary source of income. That’s what the word means.


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