Need help submitting your writing to literary journals or book publishers/literary agents? Click here! →
Certain professions, hobbies, or activities come with preconceived stereotypes. But the truth is, not all librarians are old maids wearing horn-rimmed glasses, not all auto mechanics are men, and not all grannies sit in rocking chairs and knit. Writers also tend to be typecast, and the writing life is often romanticized or misrepresented. Writer’s Relief has put together a list of the most common misconceptions about the writing life and writers—and shines a light on the surprising reality!
Misconceptions About The Writing Life And Writers—Debunked
All Writers Are Introverts
Here’s the timeworn image of a writer: Sitting home alone, wearing a cardigan, drinking coffee, and typing away for hours. Okay, wearing a cozy cardigan is simply a smart fashion statement. But, while writing is typically a solitary endeavor, it doesn’t mean all writers are introverts. In fact, more than a few famous writers have been extroverts (Hemingway and Twain, to name two literary greats)! And many writers enjoy spending time together in writing groups.
Keep in mind: Being an introvert doesn’t mean you’re antisocial. It simply means you’re focused on internal thoughts and concepts. If you are an introvert, you’re more likely to be creative and observant. So be sure to get outside and observe some passersby and listen in on a few conversations so you can perfect the dialogue in your stories.
Writing Is Easy!
Want to be the character who gets horribly killed in a novel? Just walk up to a writer and say, “Writing is not that hard!” Any writer staring at a blank page or computer screen will tell you—writing is NOT easy! There’s writer’s block to overcome, then editing and proofreading, then a critique from the writing group where that one guy Al always has a comment to make. Then rewriting (thanks, Al), and on to the next step: finding the right place to submit your work. All those submissions need to be tracked. And now start the whole process over again!
Successful Writers Are English Majors With MFAs
Writers are people who love language, so many are English majors. But there are lots of successful authors who never attended college: William Faulkner, H.G. Wells, Maya Angelou, and Augusten Burroughs, to name a few. Others graduated from college but didn’t major in English. John Grisham studied accounting before graduating law school, and Michael Crichton received his MD from Harvard! Don’t let the fact that you didn’t study writing or literature keep you from being a writer.
Published Writers Can Quit Their Day Jobs
Dreaming of becoming an immediate success may be every author’s fantasy, but it’s just that—a fantasy. For most published authors, “overnight” fame actually took years to accomplish. It took Stephen King twenty years to achieve success (which he did with his novel Carrie), but only after years of submitting and being rejected. Amanda Hocking is a self-publishing overnight success story—and it only took her nine years to accomplish this (that’s one very long night, Amanda).
The fact is, most writers who are published make very little—if any—money from their writing. Literary journals have very limited budgets so offer only a token payment, if anything. And if you choose to self-publish, you probably won’t make enough in royalties to cover all your living expenses. The majority of authors simply enjoy sharing their writing with others, even without monetary benefits.
All A Writer Does Is Write
It would be wonderful if a writer could simply retreat to a secluded cabin or spend hours in the study typing. But in reality, writers are holding those day jobs, taking care of the children, getting the dog groomed, mowing lawns, and much more—and squeezing in time to write as well.
Once you’ve published a book, whether it is traditionally or self-published, you may think the hard work is over. You’d be wrong! In today’s publishing industry, even traditionally published writers are expected to market their books just like self-published authors. So whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, having an online author platform and being active with social media is a must. Then there are also author readings and blog tours to set up and participate in. Simply put, there is no “sitting back and relaxing” in the writing biz.
If you need a little help with maintaining your writing life, check out the services at Writer’s Relief. We understand what the writing life is really like and can help make yours a success story!
Question: What other misconceptions or stereotypes about the writing life have you come across?