Writers are a strange group of people. We hole ourselves up in rooms or in the corner of a public area with the sole wish of being left to record our cluttered thoughts. Our minds are a dangerous breeding ground of stories—as though 54 tabs are open on a web browser and all vying for attention. As such, it may come as no surprise that many writers do some of the same weird things.
Let’s break down the stereotypes: the myths, rumors, and legends surrounding the story weavers of society.
1. Writers are caffeine addicts.
This is most assuredly true for the vast majority of human beings out there, not simply writers. Still… most writers survive on a constant caffeine drip to weave worlds after a full day of work.
2. Writers are grammar/spelling police.
We all have that one friend or acquaintance who points out a typo or grammar mistake on Facebook posts and tweets—and many times we tend to assume it’s the English major of the crowd.
I dub this stereotype as false. While my fingers may itch to correct a misplaced “your” (instead of “you’re”), that level of vigilance takes too much effort to maintain. Writers are far more concerned about having a typo on the first page of our manuscripts (that literary agents will discover) than editing other people’s social media ramblings.
3. Writers are hermits.
Writers have an antisocial stigma around them, courtesy of the many movies depicting recluse writers. While I want to name this stereotype as false—as I always find myself gabbing until I’m blue in the face—there are many writers who fall safely under the introvert umbrella.
4. Writers prefer cats to humans… I mean… Writers are cat people.
Just look at the Twitterverse and you will find this stereotype is painfully true. Writers (and millennials, in general) love their pets. Although many writers snap adorable photos of their feline fur balls, there are quite a few writers who also love their other pets, such as dogs.
5. Writers drink in excess.
If by “drink in excess,” you mean caffeine, then this is an absolute YES. If instead this refers to alcoholism, I do think some writers have a leniency toward the harder drinks of the world, but it’s certainly not true for writers as a species.
6. Writers are messy.
Have you guys seen my office (also called the “iWriterly studio”)? There’s so much OCD influence, you might need to put on sunglasses before you enter.
Yes, many writers tend to be the cluttered type, but that goes for any group of people. You have your organized folks and your… less organized counterparts.
7. Writers are procrastinators.
This is true for all kinds of writers. Many authors, journalists, columnists, etc. are only able to complete their stories while a deadline is boring a hole between their eyes. However, this doesn’t hold true for all writers.
For example, as we speak, it’s Christmas Eve and my husband is making/finishing a present (to give this evening). Meanwhile, I’m writing an article with a January deadline.
8. Writers work on their stories at coffee shops.
This goes back to stereotype number one: writers are caffeine addicts. As that stereotype holds some serious truth to it, it only makes sense we would congregate where there is plenty of caffeine to be had. That, and temporary respite from the craziness of everyday life.
9. Writers prefer the classics.
Oh goodness, no. Definitely, definitely not. While the classics are an enforced part of American curriculum—particularly for college English majors—it is not necessarily our bread and butter. When I’m tired or want to cuddle up with a good story, you better believe I’m reaching over Beowulf for Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows.
10. Writers are a depressed/melancholic lot.
While this may be true for some writers, I’d say a large portion of writers tend to be categorized not as melancholic but as cynical. I mean, after so many rejections from literary agents and publications, even a veteran writer with plenty of callouses can grow a twisted sense of humor.
11. Writers can write anything.
Think of other fields, such as scientific research. A geneticist walking into a food science lab would feel painfully out of place, as that sector of the science world isn’t his/her specialty. The same goes for writers. For authors, we tend to specialize in a specific age group (picture book, chapter book, middle grade, young adult, adult) and genre (fantasy, science fiction, thriller, romance, and so on). Just because an author is a wizard in YA fantasy doesn’t mean that same writer would find any success in nonfiction or technical writing. Like anything, it takes practice to understand a genre/niche in the industry.
12. Writers retaliate by writing about people.
Do you have a relative who always asks aggressive questions about your future plans around the holidays? So do writers. Only, life serves as inspiration for our stories—and antagonists.
13. Writers experience writer’s block all the time.
False… ish? Like anything else, writer’s block (and when a writer experiences it) is subjective. Writers experience writer’s block in a variety of ways and at unpredictable times. Some writers have writer’s block regularly while others have it only on the rare occasion. Look at the published authors in the world—some writers can pump out multiple books per year while others publish one book every few years. (Though, we’re also getting into pacing here, which is a completely different ballgame.)
14. Published writers are rich and famous.
This is completely false. Only the few blessed writers in the world can sustain themselves on their writing alone (J. K. Rowling *cough cough*). Most writers work full-time jobs separate from their writing endeavors in order to be able to… oh, you know… eat.
15. Writers are unkempt.
The Patrick Rothfusses and George R. R. Martins of the world have given authors this wonky stereotype—particularly the Einstein-inspired look, with crazy hair and even crazier beards. However, if you’ve ever gone to a writing conference, there are quite a few writers who look snazzy in their public garb.
16. Writers are night owls.
When the clock strikes nine, you will typically find me deliriously tired and ambling to my bed. However, in this instance, I seem to be the rare exception. The writing community comes alive in the evening, with late night writing sprints, #amwriting chats, and more. There is plenty of world-weaving in the late hours of the day!
17. Writers are broke.
Meg LaTorre is a writer of adult science fiction and fantasy, YouTuber, developmental book editor, writing coach, creator of the free query critique platform, Query Hack, and former literary agent with a background in magazine publishing, medical/technical writing, and journalism. On Meg’s YouTube channel, iWriterly, she geeks out on all things books—from the concept to the bookshelves (and everything in between). Meg also launched Query Hack, a query critique platform where writers can submit their manuscript queries or Twitter pitches for free feedback. She has written for publications such as Writer’s Digest and Savvy Authors on topics related to writing and publishing, participated as an editor in Twitter contests, including #RevPit (Revise and Resubmit) and Pitch to Publication, is a Resident Writing Coach at Writers Helping Writers, and can be found teaching online classes throughout the year. To learn more about Meg, follow her on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook, sign up for her monthly newsletter, and subscribe to her YouTube channel, iWriterly.