There are many stereotypes out there about writers, and I’m sure you’ve heard at least a handful of them.
Unfortunately many of these stereotypes are blown wildly out of proportion.
Here are 10 stereotypes about writers that I hate:
1. Writers are Born with Stories in Their Heads
What a great way to discourage people from writing.
The old ‘some people are just born with it’ adage, that works as an excuse for anyone who doesn’t take the time to try it out themselves.
Not to mention that this excuse completely ignores skills, practice, and the thousands of hours that one can spend writing.
This is by far my least favorite stereotype about writing, because I wasn’t born with some magical story in my head that needed to be shared with the world. I learned to see stories in the mundane things around me, and I learned to start writing them down.
2. Writing is Easy
Ding dong, you’re wrong!
Writing isn’t easy, it’s difficult and time consuming. And it’s a skill that needs to be learned, not a talent that some are born with and others are not.
If something looks easy, it’s because a person has invested time into it. As a child I read a lot, so much so that my normal reading pace was faster than my parents’ speed reading paces.
Then when I hit my pre-teens I started writing and drawing a lot. I went from reading stories to making up my own.
I’ve spent hundreds of hours writing, editing, and reading. I’ve put in a lot of effort and time into learning how to write well, and it is not easy.
3. All Writers Know How to Murder People
I’m not sure when or where this stereotype started, and granted it does have its basis in truth.
There are many writers, including myself, who have needed to research methods of murder or different kinds of death for their stories.
But I still think it’s a harmful stereotype.
This stereotype tells non-writers a few things:
- That writers are creepy people
- That writers are potentially dangerous
- That writers enjoy researching and learning about the macabre in their free time
This can create some awkwardness between those who write and those who don’t.
4. There’s Only Writing, No Editing
I wish I could write something and have it be perfectly readable without any editing, but that’s not the case.
Writing requires a lot of editing, and for one very good reason:
The human thought process is disconnected and chaotic, and usually presents itself in abstract visuals or symbols rather than in concrete words.
This means that writers have to translate pictures, sounds, ideas, and cinematics into words while they write. Editing helps make sure that the translations from abstract to concrete make sense.
5. Everything is Deliberate (and has a Hidden Meaning)
Ah yes, the stereotype perpetuated by high school English teachers everywhere.
While a lot of what we write is deliberate, there are also lots of happy accidents.
Sometimes I’ll be writing or planning a novel, and realize that I prevented a plot hole with a new idea.
I try my best to learn from those happy accidents, so that I can recreate them in the future, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they were just that, happy accidents.
And let me tell you, not everything has a hidden meaning. While I like to choose motifs for my stories, I can assure you that a small detail such as the color of a chair doesn’t have a deeper meaning behind it.
It’s just a chair.
6. All Writers Have a Drinking Problem
Be it alcohol or caffeine, it’s a stereotype that writers have a drinking problem of some sort.
While I used to drink coffee, it started giving my heart burn, so I don’t drink it anymore.
I also have many writer friends who don’t drink coffee. Some of them do, but none of them are anywhere near being addicted to it.
Overall, this is just a bad stereotype that paints all writers as having addictive behaviors.
7. Writers are Antisocial or Socially Awkward
Writing tends to be a solitary activity, which is probably how this stereotype came around, but writers can be outgoing and confident people.
Even though I’m an introvert, with mild social anxiety, I consider myself to be outgoing, even confident when I’m in the proper environment.
Some of my writer friends are super friendly, and I enjoy chatting with them a lot.
To think that a profession or hobby will attract people with only one characteristic is just wrong. People are all multifaceted and our personalities are all complex and different. And writers are people too.
8. Writers are Either Super Messy or Super Organized
There are grey areas to everything and everyone, so to say that writers either fall into the box of being being incredibly organized or into a different box of being incredibly messy is blatantly false.
Besides that point, there’s also different ways to be messy.
I keep a very organized bullet journal, that I use as a combination of a planner and notebook. I update my bullet journal almost every day, and I’ve been told that it looks very clean and professional.
But I do have a bad habit of forgetting to hang up my clean clothes, and I also tend to forget to clean up the dishes when I’m busy.
Am I overall a messy person or an organized person? I like to think that I’m organized, but I don’t fall on either extreme end of the spectrum.
9. Writers are Night Owls
“Writers are night owls,” I write, even though I woke up at 6:00 am, and almost exclusively write during the mornings.
Again, there are grey areas, and some of us are early birds, others are night owls. Some writers have something in between, or alternate between the two.
10. Constant Writer’s Block
Why do writers frequently write characters that are writers with writer’s block? I think that that’s how this stereotype came about, since if there’s a writer in a story, they’ll have writer’s block.
This make writers with writer’s block both a stereotype and cliche.
While every writer will experience writer’s block at one point or another, I’ve never met any writer who I would describe as being in a constant state of writer’s block.
So why does this stereotype exist?
Why do all these stereotypes exist? Some have their roots in truth, but others are blatantly incorrect. Some of them are well meaning or playful, and others I just really don’t like.
If you enjoyed this post, please leave a like or share it with someone else who’d enjoy it. I blog about writing every Wednesday, so check back next week for some new content.