10 Reasons to Keep Using the Phrase “Aspiring Author” (But Drop “Aspiring Writer”)

Aspiring author looking up at stars in the sky

There’s no such thing as an aspiring writer. If you write, you are a writer. But there is such a thing as an aspiring author: writers who are serious about getting published. However, there has been some discourse around the phrase “aspiring author” and its value. We’re here to set the record straight on why a) it is immensely valuable to describe yourself an aspiring author, and b) how being an aspiring author (rather than an aspiring writer) can help you achieve your publishing goals.

1. It shows you are serious about getting published

Author doesn’t have to mean author of a book. You can be an author of an article, a paper, an essay, a poetry collection—the list goes on. It just means you have to be published. We wholeheartedly disagree that this is the same as someone who writes. You could write in your diary. You could write a private document that you never release into the world. You could sign your name. These things make you a writer, but not an author. But if you are an aspiring author, you are looking to make your private words public and professional. Hence: the progression from writer, to aspiring author, to published author.

2. Aspiring is aspirational

The dictionary definition of aspiring is “directing one’s hopes or ambitions toward becoming a specified type of person.” It is forward moving and future-facing. It’s the pursuit of prosperity and success. In so many ways, it is an aspirational term. We’ve heard people say that “aspiring” encourages procrastination. Nonsense. If you procrastinate, then you are no longer aspiring.

3. Aspiring helps you visualize

To aspire is to visualize your future. It helps you create a roadmap. An Olympic swimmer doesn’t just become an Olympic swimmer overnight. They train hard and set clear time-based, data-driven goals, for example: complete x distance in y stroke in z time in order to win a gold medal in four years’ time. Think of your writing career in the same way, for example: write 80,000 words in nine months to complete a novel that will be queried by 100 agents resulting in one offer of representation and a six-figure book deal.

4. Aspiring author establishes a clear way to describe your writing career goals

Ever had one of those small talks with a stranger where they ask you what you do and you awkwardly mumble “writer”? How many times is the follow-up to that: “Oh, where can I get your book?” The fact is that the general public associates a writer as someone who has a published book. While this is devastatingly untrue and unfair, the semantics really matter. Instead, you can answer with “I’m a writer and aspiring author”—instant clarification.

5. Aspiring helps you stay motivated

You can be an author and an aspiring author at the same time. The editors here at Aspiring Author are all authors with published works in the universe. But we have different goals—to get published in certain literary magazines, or to get a traditional book deal with a Big Five, or to get our names on The New York Times best seller list (hey, who doesn’t). Our goals are lofty, but aspiring to reach them keeps us motivated to achieve them. We won’t stop. We’ll keep on. Ever heard the phrase “reach for the stars”? That’s why we have two stars in our logo: the writer we are today, and the writers we will be tomorrow. There’s nothing worse than stagnation or languishing.

6. Being an aspiring author helps you get over rejection

Rejection. Fear of failure. Imposter syndrome. Look, these are all part and parcel of the writing life. By admitting to the world that we are writers, we are opening ourselves up to a great many setbacks, and that can be terrifying. But by aspiring to be an author, you are always trying. You are keeping on, in spite of other people’s opinions or even because of them.

7. Being an aspiring author sets you up as a futurist

At Aspiring Author, we’re hard futurists. We don’t dwell in the past, or even spend too much time thinking about the present. With every word we type, we are moving forward towards the future. Once you start calling yourself an aspiring author, you step into that positive mindset and mentality that points towards success. As author Richard Bach says, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Being futuristic and never giving up makes all the difference. Onward.

8. But being an aspiring writer sets you up to fail

To reiterate: writer = someone who writes. Author = someone who writes and has published works. Don’t call yourself an aspiring writer; the future-facing goal of simply “writing” is not aspirational enough. Sure, you should be proud of what you write and always want to write more, but the act of writing is the art. It’s not the end product. Enjoy the art while you’re in it, but keep pushing for its success as a published medium.

9. Aspiring writer indicates low self-confidence

You know what literary agents hate? When you apologize in query letters for taking up too much of your time. Stop apologizing for being a writer. It’s not a profession to say sorry for. Once you whack the word “aspiring” in front of writer, it implies that you haven’t written a word yet. Are you a writer, or aren’t you? Yes, you are! Now, write.

10. Being an aspiring author helps you marry craft with career

At Aspiring Author, we offer business advice for writers looking to become commercially successful. It’s the sweet spot where right brain meets left brain, where art meets business, and where craft becomes career. Many writers struggle with the commercial element, simply because they are not hard-wired that way. We connect the dots between the art and business of writing so that you can feel empowered to promote and advocate for yourself and your writing career. We inherently understand this weird and wonderful business. We got you.

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