There is no such thing as an aspiring writer…

There is a term that I have seen bandied around in the bios of various writers, and it’s a term that I don’t like: aspiring writer.

What I don’t understand is how one can aspire to be a writer. You can aspire to be an author. You can aspire to quit your day job to become a full-time writer. You can aspire to share your writing with the world. But aspire to be a writer?

My copies of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus, in place of pride and joy, right next to The Chicago Manual of Style. (They're so pretty!)

My copies of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus, in place of pride and joy, right next to The Chicago Manual of Style. (They’re so pretty!)

I guess it all comes down to the definition of the word writer.  Time to pull out the handy-dandy dictionary (Merriam-Webster this time, because my leather-bound version is so pretty).

writer  one that writes

(Personally, I would have said a writer is one who writes, but that’s the editor in me. Instead, we’re quoting here, so we use what is actually in the text.)

That definition of a writer couldn’t be any simpler. If you go about the motions of writing, then you are a writer. You may be a new writer, just starting on your journey and discovering your voice. You might be an established writer, still struggling to have your voice heard. You could be a published writer, with countless publication credits to your name. At the end of the day, regardless what stage of your writing career you’re at, if you write, then you’re a writer.

Now I have heard some argue that a writer and an author are not the same thing. Okay… Let’s pull out that handy-dandy dictionary again.

author n  1: one that originates or creates  2:  the writer of a literary work (as a book)

Yeah… Sorry, but the first definition is not very helpful. The second definition, however, I believe is what the “writer vs author” argument is about. Based on that definition, to be called an author, you need to have finished a literary work. It should be noted that there is no mention of the word published in that definition, although many will argue that to be an author you need to be published. (Read the dictionary, people!)

Now that definition of author did say literary. (Time to open up the next can of worms.) There is a school of thought out there suggesting that classic genre fiction is not literary. Dictionary time again.

literary adj  1 a: of. relating to. or having the characteristic of humane learning or literature  b: BOOKISH  c: of or relating to books  2 a:  WELL-READ   b: of or relating to authors or scholars or to their professions

I’m sorry, people, but I don’t see anything in that definition that would explicitly exclude genre fiction from the term literary work, unless you wish to argue the characteristics of humane learning. (Geez, I can keep circling around this topic all day.)

What I’m trying to say is that people should stop using the term aspiring writer. If you write, then you’re a writer. And quite frankly, I would never say aspiring author either. It actually sounds more positive to just say writer.

The only people who could feel justified in using aspiring writer in their bios are those who haven’t got the guts to actually put their thoughts to paper. And you know what, those people are unlikely to have aspiring writer in their bios in the first place.

If I have my say, that term is now banned.

(Geez, I have some bizarre arguments with myself.)

P.S. I’d love to meet you on Twitter or Facebook.

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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2016

Posted in A Writer's Journey, Personal Favourites, Random, Writing and tagged , , .


    • Well, that’s not good. However, instead of calling yourself an “aspiring writer”, how about you call yourself a “writer aspiring to be read”? In my mind, that’s incredibly positive.

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