What’s wrong with being an aspiring author?

Recently I’ve seen some blogs criticizing people who choose to call themselves aspiring authors. The argument goes that since you’re writing, you’re already a writer and it somehow brings shame to the profession to describe yourself as anything but an ‘unmodified’ author.

Luckily, there’s always room for debate on every issue. Personally, I find no shame in the title aspiring writer or aspiring author, and I’m even a little proud of it.

I have a job I love and if people ask me about my profession, this is how I define myself. Even if I were to earn a decent living from writing, I’d be in absolutely no rush to leave my  day job.

Fiction writing is something I do in my free time. I would love to be published one day and I enjoy working toward that goal, but until I sign my first publishing contract, I feel more comfortable calling myself an aspiring writer. This does not reflect a lack of seriousness on my part and it’s certainly not meant to demean people who call themselves writers before they are published. It’s simply how I feel more comfortable using the term.

I also think it reflects the pure joy of writing. After all, before you’re a published author, your only deadlines are your own. While critique feedback is extremely helpful, you don’t have editors or agents insisting on major changes to your plot or characters.

I’ll certainly take those ‘inconveniences’ as the price of being published one day, but an ‘aspiring author’ has a relative degree of freedom we may one day envy.

So, what do you think, writers? I’m curious to hear your views. Do you find the term aspiring writer to be demeaning? Or are you proud of it? Or do you consider ‘writer’ to be the correct term for all people writing – whether or not you’re published?


  1. Andy Szpuk on August 10, 2012 at 7:34 am

    It’s a term I wouldn’t use myself. Maybe it demonstrates a degree of anxiety and lack of self-confidence.

  2. ledrakenoir on August 10, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I don’t see anything wrong in it, and other can pick up what they fell that they can use for themselves – I’m not an author dreamer myself – but in my works I have to use a lot of words and never be to fine to learn from other – in my own way… 😉

  3. The Writer's Codex on August 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Definitely fit into the aspiring category; until I finish a manuscript, published or not, then I don’t feel like I can go on to say that I’m a writer or an author. It may be an absurd distinction, but until I succeed in something how can I be it?

  4. Pat on August 10, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    No, I agree that there is nothing wrong with being an aspiring author and I get what you’re saying, but I think there is also the alternative view: if we aren’t confident enough to just say ‘writer’ then we are perhaps not being true to ourselves.
    I read somewhere on here the other day that people don’t say they are ‘aspiring’ to be much else. They just are. Even a nurse in training doesn’t say she is aspiring to be a nurse. She is one, even if not fully qualified.
    Maybe it’s a question of degree. I am happy to be an aspiring author, but I consider myself to be a writer these days, where once I would have shrunk from the term and muttered that ‘I write a bit.’
    Nice post though and good luck with the writing.

  5. Claire 'Word by Word' on August 11, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I think Aspiring Author is entirely appropriate and perhaps the next obvious question which an aspiring author can only respond to with ‘Not yet’.

  6. Chantel Rhondeau on August 11, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    I’ve listed myself as an aspiring author – I mean, I’ll agree with the fact that I’m already a writer, but I don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with aspiring author. I guess there is room for all types of views though. Me? I think you can call yourself whatever you want. Just do what you love and write with joy! Good article, Kimberly!

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