Writers have a strange name in today’s media. In romantic stories, they are depicted as tortured artists, struggling to get their big break. Their clothes are disheveled and their hair is a mess. They moan over their typewriter, crumbling pages and throwing them onto the floor covered by papers and takeout boxes. One day, they find someone who becomes their muse and suddenly their book gets published and their dreams come true.
On the flip side, in horror stories, the writer is a middle-aged man who is addicted to alcohol or drugs. Either he is tortured by the supernatural antagonist or he goes psycho. Fun for everyone.
Then there are the famous writers in the real world whose books get turned into movies. We don’t know much about them except that they are loaded.
These three examples lead to a lot of misconceptions about writers.
Top 10 False Writer Stereotypes
Writers are poor
The ‘starving artist’ image does come from somewhere. Art is a flaky industry with no guarantees of success. Yet unlike the classic depictions of a writer mentioned above, most of them don’t sit around waiting for their muse. They have a job, sometimes full-time. They need to eat somehow until their writing pays. Poor? Perhaps, but not necessarily.
Writers are rich
I love how this one directly contradicts number one. People tend to think of big-name authors and assume that all writers are rolling in the dough. Easy cash, right? Wrong. I’m not even gonna explain why. Just wrong.
Writers are alcoholics
True! And false. Although many writers swear by drinking or drugs as ‘their muse,’ many never touch the stuff. Stephen King, a recovering alcoholic, settles this debate poignantly in his book On Writing: “Hemingway and Fitzgerald didn’t drink because they were creative, alienated, or morally weak. They drank because it’s what [alcoholics] are wired up to do. Creative people probably do run a greater risk of alcoholism and addiction than those in some other jobs, but so what? We all look pretty much the same when we’re puking in the gutter.”
Writers are addicted to coffee
How many adults do you know are addicted to coffee? How many of them are writers? Most people depend on their daily coffee, especially if they work long hours and don’t sleep enough. Coffee addiction is not exclusive to writers. Some writers don’t drink it. And some have to give it up because it negatively affects them. (I miss you, coffee!)
Writers are loners
Writing is a lonely practice. It’s just you, the computer, and the words in your brain. Creativity does need to be cultivated in solitude, but that doesn’t mean that writers are antisocial hermits who never leave their houses (although some wish they were.) They have friends, family, coworkers, and writer buddies that they interact with every day.
Writers are grammar nazis
Yes, some are. I get a kick whenever someone says “more prettier” or “more higher.” Many people do speak that way; you will now notice it everywhere. Nevertheless, I don’t repeatedly correct someone’s grammar. It’s grating and pretentious. Some writers are terrible at grammar. Their stories are incredible, but they spend a lot of time with copyeditor tweaking. And yes, some writers are grammar nazis. But some grammar nazis aren’t writers.
Writers are emotionally unbalanced
This idea comes from the image of a writer bawling as they kill a character, or go into a trance while out walking. “There’s a maple tree. My character loves maple trees…” and proceeds to cry. Writers are generally attached to their characters, but they don’t fall into a pit of despair everytime they torture a protagonist. Sometimes the writers enjoy it—I know how psychotic that sounds. Sometimes they do cry, but they are aware that the characters are not real. …Shocker, I know.
Writers suffer constantly from writer’s block
Did you read my post on writer’s block? Some days writers don’t want to write, but that doesn’t mean they don’t. If you wanna get paid for writing, you gotta treat it like a job, as in you work whether you feel like it or not. As challenging as writer’s block is, it doesn’t turn writers into a depressive ghost, floating around the house, wailing for the muse to return. Either they force ourselves to write or they go out and do something productive.
Writers are night owls
Let’s make this brief. Not all writers write at night. Some write better in the morning. Some write in the morning and night. Many non-writers are night owls. Many non-writers are morning larks. It depends on the person.
Writers speak poetically
You would think that a profession that uses words all day would create extremely articulate people. This is partially true. A writer’s vocabulary can be large and display itself in their everyday speech. Although they might exclaim, “I am appalled by that deplorable action,” they also say, “Can you pass me the thing?” “Where’s the thingamabob?” “Dude, that’s awesome!” “One day, I’m gonna… I forgot what I was gonna say.” In short, writers do not use flowery language and metaphors out of a Shakespearean play.
Here’s the bottom line
Writers are people too. A writer can be the guy who stood behind you in the supermarket. It can be the cashier checking your purchases. We are humans and just like humans, we all create differently.
These stereotypes may apply to some writers. However, it doesn’t matter how much coffee you drink, or how much you cry over imaginary people. If you write, congratulations, you are a writer. If you don’t, you are not. It’s as simple as that.
Which writer stereotype is true for you? Comment below!
Now get writing!