Aspiring. The word itself has a nice flare. I mean just say it out loud, go ahead. Say it with some oomph, like you really mean it. “Aspiiiiring”. Sounds great. Until you put it in front of your profession. And until you sit down and really look at the word. When you say you’re an aspiring writer, chances are you think it sounds pretty posh. But what it really says is “I’m not a writer”. After all, if you’re aspiring to be something, the implied reality is that you aren’t that something quite yet. But boy are you really trying!
I cringe when I see LinkedIn profiles, Facebook updates, and *shudder* writer resumes that say “Aspiring writer”. NO! You are NOT an aspiring writer. If you write, you are a writer. Period. End of story. Even if you’re not a great writer, you’re still a writer. I’m an aspiring Pulitzer Prize winner (before I woke up, I was, anyway), now that’s the appropriate use of aspiring. That’s when aspiring sounds impressive.
But when you use the word aspiring in front of the profession in which you’re trying to convince people you already work, it all falls apart. Here are the top 5 reasons you should never, ever use the word aspiring before the word writer. Ever.
1. You Sound Unprofessional
If you needed legal advice and you were searching through the myriad online listings for attorneys and came across one that said “Joe Shmo, Aspiring Attorney at Law”, what would you think? Would you be inclined to contact him? Probably not. It sounds ridiculously unprofessional. If you went in for teeth cleaning and your new dentist said “I’m an aspiring dentist,” how quickly would you run out of that office? Exactly. When you meet people at networking events, print business cards, create your social media profiles, and even when you talk to regular people you meet everyday, you sound completely unprofessional if you say you’re an “aspiring writer”. You’re a writer. Period. Own it.
2. You Sound Apologetic
One thing people hear when you say “I’m an aspiring writer,” is “I know I’m not really super good and popular yet, I’m sorry that I’m claiming to be a writer, so I’m going to say well I’m aspiring,” – and that’s just sad. You sound as though you’re trying to claim something that you think you can’t claim so you’re doing so apologetically by adding a demeaning adjective in front of it. Aspiring Nobel Peace Prize winner – good. Aspiring Thing I’m Telling You I’m Doing For a Living – lame.
3. You Lose Credibility
Right off the bat, you lose credibility with people who might very well have been potential clients. Even if you’re talking to a good friend, if you say you’re an aspiring writer, they’re probably not going to refer you to their business-owner friend who needs a newsletter written. I mean after all, she wants a writer, not an aspiring writer, right? Marketing yourself as a freelance writer means presenting yourself with authority and credibility. No matter how insecure you feel, you need to be the George Clooney or Angelina Jolie of freelance writing. Own that title like you’re saying you just made a million dollars. You sound much more credible when you make clear assertions: “I Am” instead of “I Wish I Was”. You ARE a writer.
4. You Sound Insecure
If you’re not confident in your own writing abilities, why should anyone else be? If you come across to someone as though you’re really not sure if you’re a writer, or you’re not good at writing, or your’e not yet a writer, why in the world would they spend money on your writing? If you sound insecure and lack confidence in your position as a writer, your ability to write, and the fact that you deserve to be treated professionally, nobody will want to work with you and you will be chasing after 2-cent-a-word mill projects forever, because they don’t require face time or marketing. Don’t be that writer. Be confident!
5. You Give Us All a Bad Name
No seriously, you do. When you say you’re an aspiring writer, this is what you’re thinking:
A hard working bloke who is fretting over the words he’ll write next.
Someone who’s just not ready to say he’s a writer because the next War and Peace has not yet flown from his pen.
Yeah, that’s great, but what they think when you aspiring writer is the stereotypical…well…this dude…
Oh yes, the posh writer. The broody but handsome guy who, though he be sweaty and gross from days of not showering for the sake of his next novel, puts out his cigarette long enough to look sexy in the ashes while he pens…IT….the final words….the ones that really speak to…
COME ON! Really?
Don’t make us writers all sound like this dude or equally ridiculous female versions of him, mmkay? That dude is the aspiring writer. Mostly because he spends so much time looking debonair that he never gets anything published.
Laughs aside, though, you sound like someone who is unemployed but has a writing hobby when you use the word “aspiring”, and since most freelance writers have to battle that mindset in someone they know regardless, you’re not helping the situation by confirming it in their minds. 🙂
And that, my dear readers, is why I never want you to say the word “aspiring” in front of “writer” again. Be an aspiring award-winning freelance journalist. Be an aspiring guest lecturer. Be an aspiring superhero for all I care. But do not be an aspiring writer – you’re already a writer! Don’t forget that.
I think that since many of us freelancers came from a corporate job, we fall into the employee mindset where taking credit for anything is akin to business blasphemy. Your boss gets the credit, you take orders and do the work, and you don’t contribute your ideas or feel confident about your position. I think that many corporations foster an atmosphere of low confidence among employees. Which is great for keeping them in line, but once we become freelancers, we’re still thinking in terms of “I’m just a…”, as in “I’m just an admin at a company but I hope to be a writer some day”.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not demeaning corporate work or admin work in the slightest. I’m simply saying that the mindset we are often made to have in corporate environments doesn’t serve us well when we get to be a freelancer. You get to wear the big boy or girl pants now. You’re the boss. You get to have the confidence and own your work and your career and your state of professionalism. So do it.
I want you to say out loud “I am a writer,” and say it like you’re proud of it. Do that daily. And then do that the next time someone asks you what you do or where you work. “I’m a freelance writer,” (undertone of “and I rule!”).
🙂 Until next time, happy writing! 🙂