‘Aspiring Writer’ – An Insult in Disguise?


Okay, so the next time someone calls you an ‘aspiring writer’, you have every right to take offense.

This is a term that has really caught on, mostly in the ads and posts that are put out by a few of the publishing companies and even – horror of horrors – a few editing services. It is one of those harmlessly-wrong-but-annoying terms like ‘widow remarriage’ that is used so commonly even in our academic textbooks. I have always had an exception to this term. I feel it should be ‘widow marriage’, because after the said woman becomes a widow, she marries. Not remarries. We actually had a debate about the rectification of this term when I was a college student and at least for as long as I was in college, the professors had corrected themselves to ‘widow marriage’.

So, why do I say ‘aspiring writers’ is wrong? Keep reading, please!

Let us break down the term ‘aspiring writer’ into its two separate words. ‘Aspiring’ refers to someone who hopes to achieve something but yet has not. Now if you couple that with ‘writer’, the term means you hope to be a writer but yet are not.

Do you see the problem here? You will if you realize what ‘writer’ means. Writer means anyone who can write something. It does not matter whether you write that professionally or not. Even when you wrote that essay in school, you were its writer. The smallest thing that you write makes you a writer, and you certainly do not aspire it anymore because you have achieved that status.

Perhaps it would be right to call a baby who hasn’t yet learned to write an aspiring writer. But I am sure none of us reading this are babies here.

Now, there is a correct term for this, and that is ‘aspiring author’.

See the difference?

An author is one who writes professionally. That could be a book, a blog post, some copy for a website, an article, anything. Yes, one could aspire to be that.

But again, once your first professional work is out, and you are mentioned as the creator of that writing, then you are no longer an ‘aspiring author’.

You graduate to being an ‘author’.

So, be careful what people call you! They might be insulting you and you might not even be realizing it.

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