Busting 7 popular myths about writers

When I was in high school my dream was to become a famous fantasy novel author. But friends, parents of friends and teachers all told me, you can’t make money doing that. They asked me, what’s the real job you’re going to do?

If I’d had a little more self-confidence, a little more grit and dedication I would have proved them wrong.

Instead, my first full-time job was in a bakery.

If I’d been introduced to copywriting back then I probably wouldn’t have gone for it. Young and naïve I wouldn’t have the world experience and understanding of the creativity involved in making words sell.

I was a fiction writer and using words for business felt like going over to the dark side. Yet here I am, with no fiction novels published but my words all over the internet in my client’s marketing.

Do I still write fiction? Yep. As I’ve grown up (still growing) I’ve learnt that the medium which you use to write doesn’t matter. It’s the practice you devote to it that does.

Like most writers, I always have a bunch of half-filled notebooks hanging around. But there are a lot of stereotypes about writers that I don’t fit.

Writers are dark and moody. Sure, when I was younger, I had some mood swings. Anxiety will do that to a person. Along with overcoming my anxiety, I’ve found a lot of calm with age. I practice meditation and work hard on my breathing during stressful moments. Plus, having three kids has taught me oodles of patience. So no, you won’t find me glowering at the world. I’m a pretty sunny lady most of the time.

Writers are drunks and addicted to caffeine. Unlike Bernard from Black Books, I’m not on the booze or the fags. When I was 12, I dreamt about sitting at a café in Paris, a long thin black cigarette in hand, black beret perched above my golden bun, writing poetry in a leather notebook. But I loathe cigarettes and I rarely drink. Maybe three or four times a year, you’ll catch me sipping a glass of mead or drinking an alcoholic kombucha (Just to confuse my poor stomach. Is it good for me, oh no it’s alcohol…but it’s got prebiotics doesn’t it?) I don’t even drink coffee, the pep in my step is my natural effervescence. Which takes us to our next misconception…

Writers are introverts. I’m not afraid to meet your eye when we talk. I happily say good morning to everyone I meet on my walks. Okay, big groups are daunting for me, I’d rather slink off to the side than confront one of those social circles. But chat with me one to one and I’m quite the talker. If we’re getting along well, you’ll struggle to get a word in.

Woman laying on a sunlounger with a laptop on her legs, on the beach

Writers travel the world, tapping out blog posts from luxurious island hotels. Ha! I wish. All my work is done at a sturdy old desk, with two screens, kids toys scattered perilously around my chair and the clock ticking down to school pick up time. Nope, no waiter bringing me cocktails by the pool. Just my supportive hubby bringing a protein drink when I’m so immersed in my creative flow I haven’t eaten since breakfast.

Writers lounge around in their pyjamas. Um, that might be awkward for zoom meetings and a little uncomfortable because, well, I don’t wear pyjamas. I own a couple of pairs for when we stay at my folk’s place in the country or if family stay at our place. But otherwise, I sleep in almost nothing. I used to sleep in the buff but having kids put an end to that. A stray little foot in the wrong place during the middle of the night, no thanks.

Writers are scruffy. If you spot a banana smear on my pants it’s guaranteed to be from my kids loving cuddles. My appearance is far from polished. It’s not unkempt either. Let’s call it the ‘I tried’ look. I like a little mascara and lipstick. Blow drying my fringe is a must but I’m happy for the rest of my golden locks to flow however they want to go. No chewed fingernails, moth-eaten cardigans or scuffed moccasins here.

Writers are pretentious. No, we’re not a puffed-up bunch of grammar police. Sometimes we’ll gently contact you about a mistake in your latest ad, but only because we care. We know how harsh the online world is (imagine having a typo on your site when you’re a writer, all the trolls gobble it up for breakfast). We’d hate for you to suffer the ridiculous emails and DM’s over a silly typo. So we try to get in early and kindly help you out. Would you want us to stay quiet when we notice you’ve accidentally advertised your product for $19.99 instead of $1999 on your home page? All the writers I know are humble folk. They’re supportive and encouraging. They worry over their mistakes. Their egos generally need a little boost, not a burst.

So there you have it. I’m far from your Hollywood writer stereotype.

What writer traits do I have? I know how to trim up sentences and build a robust argument. How to tell a delightful story with a twist at the end. How to use words to make readers laugh, squeal and cry.

Got another writer stereotype you want to ask me about? Pop it in the comments below.

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2 Responses

  1. How about the myth about how “writers are ‘starving artists'”? That one has always baffled me; either you’re living below the poverty line, or you’re a best-selling Tom Clancy/J.K Rowling/Stephen King author.

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