Writer Stereotypes: True or False?

The other day I was thinking about some common stereotypical conceptions about writers.

1. Writers are loners.
2. You have to be a tortured soul to make good art.
3. You have to have something good to write about.

For the first one, I have always known I like solidarity. I think everyone who grew up with me through elementary school all the way to college knows me for being the quiet girl. The ironic thing is the fact that I’m actually not quiet AT ALL. I can remember countless friends recounting their first sleepovers with me and being blown away by how much I actually do say (and my extreme goofiness which is now labelled “crashing Kassie”). It always amuses me when people’s perceptions of me drastically change once they have one-on-one time with me, or if I just happen to be in an uninhibited mood. Therefore, I can understand how my own personality can easily fall into that stereotypical loner author persona. What I think really proliferates this is that writers tend to be so inside their own heads, they just forget to actually talk to other people. I do not mean to speak for everyone, but it is just a trait I’ve noticed. I know I find myself talking things out in my head instead of verbally. Not to mention, I know a lot of writers that talk A LOT and are social butterflies which I definitely would not define myself as. Sometimes I really do just like the company of a good book!

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I used to be an avid believer that the only way to write well was if you had experienced a lot of hurt, and a lot of writers I love espouse this philosophy. Nowadays it is my least favorite concept about creativity. There is an obvious tendency for people to only know how to deal with intense emotions by writing through them (or painting, sculpting, etc.), but that certainly does not mean you have to be in a severe mental state to produce anything good. In fact, I often find that type of writing method never works for me. I sound whiny and I feel as though characters tend to be superficial. Again, this is just me. I know some people create beautiful art in heightened emotional states… but I find it taxing. I prefer to wade out the storm and maybe come back to it later. I’ve also discovered I write best when I’m not trying ridiculously hard to convey an idea. However, my writing process is a continuous journey of learning. Instead of writing only when I’m super sad or super happy (I’m oversimplifying here), I now write every day fairly randomly. My best work has come from those spaces in between when I just enjoy the process and am not trying to portray a complex idea or mood.

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I used to be one of those people that would go searching for things to write about. I think it is an easy rut for me to fall into. Starting is always the hardest part. Yet, I’ve quickly discovered that the craziest things can fall onto the page when you are hardly thinking about anything at all. I had a poetry assignment recently where we had to translate a poem that was in a foreign language- the catch was we could not look up the words. How in the world are you supposed to translate a poem without knowing what it says? Honestly, this method was incredibly ingenious. It made me have to start from nothing, not even an idea, just a bunch of weird looking words on a page. I eventually decided to decipher it like a code- replacing words that were repetitive with specific words and filling in the spaces to make it somewhat coherent and musical (in its own way). It ended up being well-loved from everyone who read it. I was extremely perturbed by the overwhelming positive feedback it received compared to other poems that I was far more emotionally invested in. I thought a good poem should come from some state of understanding from the poet– I was definitely clueless as to where I was headed in this assignment— yet that is what ended up making it successful with my readers.

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Here are the poems:

Original:
BY: Miroslav Kirin

“KROZ ZRAK ŠIŠTE svjetlucava
bića: plova riba, jato ptica, roj mušica –

otkidaju me od težine hodanja,
otkidaju me od prisile disanja.

Jesi li ih vidio?
Znaš, otvoriš li prozor i, ako si sretan,
ugledat ćeš ih. Ne,
ništa nisam vidio.
Jesi li otvorio prozor? Jesam.
Znači, prozor imaš. Da.

Pa kako ih onda nisi
vidio. Jesi

li slijep? Nisam. Jesi
li sretan? Ne

mogu odgovoriti. Ne
možeš odgovoriti? Da.”

My Translation:

Smile

The small sister gently
being: rose red, just replica of music-

Loving me in soft morning,
Loving me in quiet evening,

Does she so smile?
Some, only she laughs, also with tears,

like raining so. No,
never disappear smile.

Does she only laugh? Perhaps.
Again, laugh more. Always.

A child so merry creates
smiles. Does

she sleep? Disappear. Does
she die? No

more fear. No
more fear? Always.

Needless to say, I feel like everything I have learned about writing prose, poetry, fiction, and art in general, has finally been seeping in these past few weeks. I admit that I was one of those wanna-be writers who thought those three stereotypes were true, but my own experience has shown me that they over-simplify the creative process and the diversity of the people that create.

*Disclaimer- I do not understand Croatian at all, so if you know the translation, I’d be interested in what it really says… but at the same time, knowing the translation is inconsequential to the exercise and I’m happy with the results!
**Images from Pinterest
©livesimplyKMM.wordpress.com

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2 thoughts on “Writer Stereotypes: True or False?

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