Dear Anxious Aspiring Author marilyn l davis two drops of ink

Dear Anxious Aspiring Author

By: Marilyn L. Davis


We’re All Aspiring When We Write


“I would give them (aspiring writers) the oldest advice in the craft: Read and write. Read a lot. Read new authors and established ones, read people whose work is in the same vein as yours and those whose genre is totally different. You’ve heard of chain-smokers. Writers, especially beginners, need to be chain-readers. And lastly, write every day. Write about things that get under your skin and keep you up at night.”Khaled Hosseini



Dear Anxious Aspiring Author marilyn l davis two drops of ink


I enjoy seeing what words writers use in their profile on Twitter. There’s the usual:

  • “Aspiring Writer” 
  • “Future Best Selling Author” 
  • “Novel Pending”
  • “Wanna Be Writer”

Many of them even give us a word count for their WIP (work in progress). While it may seem obvious, if they are writing, they are a writer, and I often want to send them a direct message stating that they’ve gone beyond aspiring to a working writer if they’ve written and good for them. 

Aspiring is to long for, wish, try to, and work towards, so why would I use it for all of us writers?

Because, with each post, we are trying to attract an audience, longing for the post to get attention, working towards an impressive volume of work, and wanting to overcome our fears with our choice of profession or passion. 


Have You Submitted Anywhere?



Could it be that they’ve written but never submitted – possibly due to anxiety about rejection? All of us have been rejected, and it’s never fun; it’s discouraging and can often prevent a writer from submitting to a site that values their words. 

What are some of the typical reasons that people don’t submit their guest posts? 

  • The readers on a particular site may not understand the writing style, tone, or voice
  • Fear that the grammar, syntax, or wording won’t make it past the editor.
  • Remembering past rejections and staying trapped in those negative feelings. 
  • Spending too much time editing while writing and feel discouraged.
  • Deadlines seem too imposing.


Rejection Doesn’t Mean the Writing is Bad


Other writers sent a guest post and got rejected, not because the writing was terrible, but because it wasn’t appropriate for the site.

For instance, we’re not a decorating, cooking, fashion site, so any post emphasizing those topics isn’t pertinent for a literary blog. When I get those, if the writing is worthwhile, I tend to use the sandwich method of rejecting. I’ll let the writer know that the writing was sound; however, it wasn’t what we were looking for, and then offer them some sites that might be more in line with their topic. This way, the rejection is placed or sandwiched between encouragement for their writing and telling them to try elsewhere.

It also leaves the door open for the writer to submit a post about how they improved their writing, describing their writing or blogging process or ways that they set their writing apart from mainstream posts-regardless of the topic.


Proofed, Polished Then Stashed Away


Our writer has now run it through Grammarly, Hemingway, Paperrater, or any of the online grammar checkers. They’ve shown it to trusted friends, revised, edited, and proofread the piece. But they don’t submit it rationalizing it needs to sit for a few days. While a few days to view it with fresh eyes is okay, too many posts and books just get stashed away or lost in documents, never to be read.

So what is holding them back from submitting – either as a guest post or query for a book? 




“Any writing exposes writers to judgment about the quality of their work and their thought. ― Ralph KeyesThe Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear


In my recovery circles, we talk about fears – a lot. Some of our definitions for fear are true for the writer who doesn’t submit as well. So what is FEAR?


  1. False 
  2. Expectations
  3. Appearing
  4. Real


You’ll know if you’re living in fear if you think:

  • “I know they won’t like my submission.” 
  • “I’m not a published writer, so why should they consider my post?”
  • “That topic is exhausted.”
  • “My vocabulary isn’t strong enough to publish there.”


Unfortunately, those writers who think that way are succumbing to their irrational fears. They expect to be rejected, so they never submit.


Negative Messages Fueled by Fear


We also talk about:

  1. False 
  2. Evidence
  3. Appearing
  4. Real


  • “They’ve got so many writers that they don’t need me.” 
  • “They seem only to have seasoned writers.” 
  • “They’ve got writers with Ph.D. after their name– no way can I submit.”


There is some truth in each of those sentences, but there are falsehoods in them, too. When fear grips us, we tend to only focus on the negative, so this writer comes away with, “They don’t need me, all they’ve got are seasoned writers, and Ph.D.’s.” 


Yes, We Do Need You – the Working Writer



While it’s true that Two Drops of Ink does have seasoned writers with Ph.D’s, if that were the only criteria for writing here, it would turn into “Dissecting Dissertations, Dialogues, and Diatribes on the Improper Use of the Semi-colon” or some other name that you could only access if you knew, or cared to search, on Google Scholar

That is not what we’re looking for in submissions. 

Two Drops of Ink is a literary blog devoted to literature and writing. We publish short stories, poetry, essays, literary criticism, blogging and writing advice. Click To Tweet

That said, there are snippets of prose, poetry, and new ways of looking at problem-solving for writing and blogs that appear on social media written by 13-year-olds. I know this because my granddaughter is one of them.

I recently connected on Twitter with a 17-year-old Irish author – with four books published and two more on the way to the printer. Nothing aspiring about that; she’s a genuine working writer, yet even she labels herself as aspiring.


If You Write, You’re a Writer


Next time you want to label yourself a newbie, an aspiring, or a rookie writer, reconsider. While you’re reframing your concept, think about these: 

  • “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” — Richard Bach
  • “I think new writers are too worried that it has all been said before. Sure it has, but not by you.”― Asha Dornfest


Overcome Your Fear?

The Next Hurdle is Submitting


Okay, you’ve worked on your fears, stopped the negative self-talk, proofed, polished and you’re ready to label yourself a writer. The next step is submitting for publication. 

Consider sending us a poem, prose, memoir, grammar how-to, or a post on problem-solving for bloggers and writers.


Dear Anxious Aspiring Author marilyn l davis two drops of ink




Then when you’re published, you can add, “I’m a published working writer” to descriptions of yourself.




  1. This is awesome! I always try to express how important it is for writers to TAKE THEMSELVES SERIOUSLY. A lot of the time, people just don’t have enough respect for themselves to present themselves in a professional manner.

    I actually just wrote an article about the importance of authors having professional websites. Doing so is another step for “aspiring authors” to present themselves as professional artists.

    Check it out if you have a moment and let me know what you think!

    • Hi, Alex. Your article points out many of the reasons to have a professional site. Fear, lack of understanding about today’s readers, and time constraints are three things that I think hold aspiring writers back from creating their websites.

      As you know, we’re vulnerable when we put our posts ‘out there’ for people to read and judge.

      I think that’s why guest posting is still favorable when a writer doesn’t have a website. A guest post lets them get exposure without all of the inherent risks of maintaining a site.

      On that note, I’d welcome a guest post from you. She smiles.

  2. Marilyn, Glad to know I’m not alone in my writer’s angst. Like Michelle, it took me a long time to own the title of writer (even though writing was something I had been doing since childhood.)
    Now that I have overcome that fear, I am working on the one that still grabs out for me each time I prepare to hit the “send” button. 🙂

  3. Marilyn – It took me awhile to accept a term that indicated I was a writer. Even after publication of a short story in an anthology. But rather than use the term writer, I chose author. So my question for all of you is what the difference between those two terms? Or can they be used interchangeably?

    • Hi Mary Jo, Good question! I’m afraid I’m no expert on writing titles. I personally am of the opinion that someone who writes (who indeed must write) is a writer. Published (yet) or not.
      I have always understood an author to be a writer who has published a book (or is published in a
      book). Under “my” definition, then you would indeed be an author. I’m curious to see what others have to say. And if I may I ask, what led you to choose the title of author?

    • Hi, Maryjo. Debating the terms:

      1. To be an author, the idea of your writing must be your own
      2. An author must get their work published.
      2. An author must have a specific skill set but writer’s skill is suited to the job required.
      3. You become an author when your books are published, but if your writings never publish, you remain a writer.

      Someone who writes an autobiography is both the writer and the author. Someone who writes a biography is the writer of a published book, and would probably be called an author.

      Working writer, with a book in progress suits me, for me.

  4. Marilyn,
    I think owning the title of writer was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I just didn’t feel like I was official enough to call myself a writer. I wrote for our local paper and in the little bio at the end of my piece the editor put “Michelle is a writer, teacher, mother, and wife.” Writer was first on his list. For some reason that stood out and having an actual writer call me a writer made me embrace the title. Or try to anyway. Over time, I have learned to call myself a writer. It feels good. Nice to be past that particular fear hurdle…now onto the next one…because if you are challenging yourself there is always a next one. 🙂

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