Patrick Rothfuss with the only motivational quote you really need
Patrick Rothfuss with the only motivational quote you really need

There are few things on the Internet more tiresome than the phrase ‘aspiring writer’.

Actually that’s not true – there are literally hundreds of things more annoying than that. But I’m not blogging about those today.

The thing that irks me about the aspiring writer is that the ‘aspiring’ part is superfluous. Before including that word in your Twitter bio or ‘About Me’ tab, do me a favour and answer the following.

  1. Can you write?
  2. Do you write?

If the answer to both of these is yes, good job – you’re a writer. If not, there are resources to help (depending on how much and what type of support you need, good starting points might be The Big Plus, Dyslexia Scotland, or The Scottish Book Trust).

What a lot of people really mean when they identify as an aspiring writer is that they aspire to be a published author, preferably making a living out of their work. I can get behind that, of course – and based on the evidence of a lot of the author interviews I’ve read, so can they. You’re only as good as your last book, seems to be the consensus. That means you have to keep putting the work in, keep being rejected and criticised, and keep making not a lot of money even after you’ve located the pot of publication gold at the end of the rainbow.  Unfortunately, something that ‘aspiring’ authors have a tendency to do instead of sitting down and getting on with this harrowing process is to collect inspirational / aspirational / motivational quotations to ‘help’.

I’ve blogged briefly on quote collecting before, and I’m not against it per se. But as a champion procrastinator, I recognise a diversionary activity when I see it.  If you think collating tiny snippets of (often wrongly attributed) wisdom on a Pinterest board or around your workspace is going to help you write a masterpiece, I fear you are deluding yourself. The only post-it you need to fill out in exquisite calligraphy after the fourteenth go is one saying ‘stop collecting other people’s words and write some of your own already.’

To illustrate what a lot of nonsense it all is, I have created a small gallery of meaningless quotes for your perusal. Please feel free to add your own in the comments.

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