Creative Stereotypes

When it comes to writing there are many stereotypes that are mostly ridiculous, like there’s a one size fits all for every author on earth. There might be a few that ring somewhat true for a large group, but no two people are 100% alike.

Stereotypes for writers often include the following:

  • The starving artist

This stereotype can have a few different implications, such as “If you’re a writer, you’re not going to make enough money to support yourself” or “If you make money to support yourself, you’re not a true artist.”

Ridiculous, right?

  • The crazy cat lady

This one implies that all writers like cats, have cats, and in fact have so many cats it’s like an episode of Hoarders.

What about people with allergies? Or non-animal people? You can be creative and be allergic to snails,* just sayin’.

  • The tortured soul (the artistic temperament)

^ That means we all have attitude problems, are depressed, moody, whiny, gloomy, and maybe even are drunk. Others assume that these things, in fact, help a writer’s creative process.

I have some major eyebrow-raising going on here.

  • The caffeine-addicted

…Maybe. We joke about this, but some people are seriously addicted to this legal substance, going as far as to get withdrawal headaches when they quit.

Nice.

  • The introvert

Again, this might ring true for quite a few of us, but it’s not every single one of us. You can be a writer and be the most outgoing, people-oriented person there is.

Oh, and here’s my favorite one:

  • Excellent speakers

Someone insisted that all writers are naturally gifted speakers. I’m still scratching my head over that one. We sit at our desks, alone, none of us talking out loud hardly. What makes people think we would all automatically have speaking talents?

The point of all of this is to say: There is no writer mold. If you think there is one, hand it over to me and I WILL BREAK IT. There are plotters, there are pantsers, and there are plantsers—and sometimes plotters pants, and pantsers plot. Some writers write in the morning. Some write at night. Some abuse adverbs. Others hate them and avoid them at all costs. You are not going to find two writers that are a carbon copy of each other. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and habits. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. Variety makes things beautiful.

This applies to non-writers, too. There are assumptions everywhere, and it’s crazy. Take mental illness as an example. I have heard that…

  • I am selfish because I have depression
  • I can and should just snap out of it
  • I probably talked myself into having OCD in the way I do (You don’t even want to know)

When authority figures, such as famous authors and respected doctors say something, “lay-persons” tend to pay attention. So say if a famous author gets on Twitter and tells their audience that writers are not serious about their writing unless they write every day, I’m guessing there will be a lot of likes and retweets and some authors (like me) silently raging because that’s a careless, hurtful assumption. And when a psychiatrist at a respected hospital told me that I’m selfish, able to snap out of it, and that the OCD was my fault in the first place, that holds some weight and causes quite a few doubts.

Words have power. Use them well and rid your vocabulary of assumptive phrases and ideas. No one fits into a box made for someone else. In fact, let’s get rid of the box entirely.

Keep your nose in a book,
Beth

 

*At least, I think you can. What? It’s just a saying…or, at least, it should be.

 

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Author: bethovermyer

Beth Overmyer wears several hats, all belonging to different writers. From fantastical kidlit to everyday popular fiction, Beth pens her work with gusto. In 2008, her screenplay The Method won best comedy at Gotham Screen’s contest, and in 2012, her MG book In a Pickle came out from MuseItUp Publishing.

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