We all have questions and doubts when it comes to our writing life. Am I a good enough writer? Is my story any good at all? How do I know if I’m cut out to be a writer anyway? The list of doubts goes on.
We all have moments of reflection too… moments when we wonder if we should continue on our quest to become a published writer, ponder if we have what it takes to stay in it for the long hall. And in doing so, we think about the successful writers—authors like JK Rowling and Suzanne Collins who have become household names. But we may also think about our writing friends who’ve gotten published already, the ones who are not quite yet a household name but have made this writing thing a job. Some we may know personally, some we may know merely through Twitter or some other form of social media. The more we engage with these other writers, the ones who have made careers of putting pen to paper and spinning words into gold, we can’t help but hear or read about the ways they do things—the way they work, the way they write, the schedule they keep, etc.
And we are fascinated by it.
Mostly I think because we believe that any time we read something about a real writer, we’ll learn something, anything that will pull back the curtain on all that is the mystery of getting published. If we know their routines, we may be able to imitate them and perhaps that will lead to publication for us too.
But what happens when we learn something about a published writer and realize (without a doubt) that what they do is something we may never do. Not because it’s wrong, but because it’s just not us?
In thinking about this topic for quite sometime now, I’ve come to realize that writers, like those in any other profession, have a certain stereotypical look or some stereotypical behaviors. The problem for me is this.
I don’t fit the writer stereotype.
Like, at all.
First, I don’t wear pajamas (or even sweatpants) all day when I write. My hair is not thrown up in a messy bun. And I don’t wear glasses. I don’t skip showering before writing either. Like ever.
In fact, every day of my life (without fail) I get up and shower before I do anything else. Then I get dressed, put on my contacts, do my hair, and do my make up before I start writing, even if I have no plans to leave the house or see another human being all day. Call me crazy, and maybe it’s because of my background in teaching and in sales, but I feel more productive and ready to take on the world when I look the part.
Second, I don’t drink endless cups of coffee while I write. I drink a cup of tea most every morning and a chai latte in the afternoon. But I do that whether I’m writing or not. Sometimes I’ll sit down with one or the other (or even with a cup of highly sugared iced coffee) as a coincidence, but I don’t drink it for hours to make the time spent with my manuscript more productive.
Third, I’m not a book worm. I don’t love reading above all else. I didn’t grow up with my nose buried in a book. I almost feel ashamed for admitting this. Sure, I like reading. I love reading books in the age group that I write in, I like reading YA books when I find a fabulous one. I like reading motivational books and an occasional grown up book too. But I don’t think about books all day long. (Except the one I’m writing). I enjoy reading and it is part of my daily routine, but it’s not the first thing I would do on a day off. Books are important to me, but being creative is even more important. I’d rather spend an entire day daydreaming about my next project or invention. I think that’s one of the reason’s why I write. Ideas are constantly spinning in my mind (to a point of frustration) and I will never act on most of them. But my characters can! I may not invent the next big thing, but the next big thing may just pop up in one of my books!
Fourth, I’m not an introvert. Well not all the time. I definitely like my alone time. That’s when I’m at my most creative. And I don’t really love hanging out with giant groups of people. But once I’ve had enough alone time, I do love being with people and interacting with them. In fact, I’ll probably talk your ear off if we ever meet in person! A night out with friends (old or new) or a lunch date with my college roommate or a dinner with my husband or whole extended family is definitely my thing. Many writers I know would prefer to exist in their own world and don’t love interacting much with people. They let their words do the talking, and that’s okay too.
It used to scare me quite honestly. I used to panic thinking, well obviously I will never become real writer because I hate hanging out all day in my pajamas. But then I snapped out of my making excuses trance and realized it doesn’t matter at all.
Stereotypes in most case are ridiculous anyway, right? So if you’re doubting your abilities to do this writing thing just because you haven’t read all the classic literature ever published, if you only read the Cliff Notes to the Scarlett Letter in high school and really didn’t love Jane Eyre (I know, I’m sorry!!) just don’t. Don’t doubt yourself at all. Writers come in all shapes and sizes—coffee drinker or not. How else would we get all these amazing stories? If we were all the same, our stories would all be the same and how awful would that be? No thanks!
I’ll take my tea with extra sweet cream. I’ll dress up when I write if for only my own benefit. I’ll go running instead of reading if the sun is shining. I’ll spend time I should be writing thinking up inventions that make no sense. I may even re-read Jane Eyre one day to see what all the fuss is about. Because that’s me. But rest assured, on the nights I stay up late to add a new invention to my latest middle grade scene, I may even throw my hair up in a messy bun. Hey, at ten o’clock at night even the most neurotic girl needs to change into comfy clothes and get down to business! How else will those words get spun into gold?
What about you? Do you fit into the writer stereotypes? Do you think they exist at all? Maybe they only exist in my mind. Stranger things have happened there, ya know? What do you think? Throw me a comment. You know how much I love notes!
Have a great week, Guys! Now go get dressed…and brush your hair or something. Maybe you’ll be more productive. 🙂
2 thoughts on “4 Signs You May Not Fit the Writer Stereotype”
Oh Jackie, sometimes you do give me a good laugh. So let’s just go over the premise of your little theory that you don’t fit the stereotype of a writer.
*Highly motivated – Check
*Ridiculously organized – Check
*Total Self starter – Check
*Efficient to a fault – Check
*Loves writing – Check (you may say you don’t “love” reading, but I’ve seen your writing…and you can’t tell me you don’t LOVE writing) – check and double check
*Imaginative – check
*Persistence of a two-year old on a sugar high – Check
*Creative – check
*Thorough – check
*Believes good enough just isn’t good enough – check
Ok, I think I’ve made my point. Yeah, maybe you don’t exactly fit some of the outward stereotypes of what we traditionally think of as a writer. But like the old saying goes… “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It’s what’s inside you that makes you a writer. And you, Jackie, are a writer.
I’m guessing it’s the same for a lot of other writers too. Which, like you said is why we get such great stories that are all different.
As a side note, you asked about other people’s habits and if they fit the “writer stereotype.” So for me, I fit a few of them, but not many. I can hang out in pajamas all day, but I don’t drink coffee. I’ll read a good book when I can, but I’m not a bookworm. At heart I’m an introvert, but my life doesn’t allow for that right now. Someday I’ll realize my dream of becoming a hermit, but right now that’s just not going to happen.
And just for you: one of these days I’ll throw on a suit and tie in the morning and see if I can’t churn out a couple pages on my book. Who knows, maybe I will write better?
I really enjoyed this post. Keep ‘em coming.
All the best,
Every once in a while, something happens during the course of the day that blows you away-that really makes your day. JD, reading your comment did that for me! Such nice words sent my way…I may be a writer as you say, but right now I’m speechless (or should I say wordless)! Thank you, my friend for all of it. 🙂 🙂 🙂 You are an amazing critique partner and friend and somehow your words always lift me up! As for you becoming a hermit someday, I can see the appeal…but if you ever do, keep the stories coming. I’m now addicted to the Boy and the Silver Tree! BTW, I’m glad you liked the post. If you ever do start writing in a suit, please send pictures. I bet we’d all like to see it!!