Since I kicked off my writing journey some years ago, my life has taken an interesting and revealing turn. The dynamics of my relationships have changed, and I have found that people relate with me differently. I’m guessing it’s pretty much the same experience other writers have too. I have also observed that there are many assumptions other people have about writers which are generally off the mark, and so this article is aimed at debunking some of the myths surrounding writers. If you have believed the following to be true about writers, you really should begin to have a rethink. Here are 5 misconceptions the average person has about writers;
You have to speak/write “big grammar” in communicating with them: It’s one of the “tortures” every writer is subjected to. People automatically feel the need to impress you with highfalutin words and pretentious sentences that mean nothing. And more often than not, what should be an easy, laid-back conversation feels like a formal chat or some battle for intellectual supremacy. What these people don’t know is, while writers enjoy having cerebral conversations, many times, (especially with family and friends) they long for easy exchanges too. Already, a writer spends a huge chunk of their time thinking up knowledgeable and clever stuff to pen. It only makes sense that they desire to take a break from “serious” stuff when they are not writing or thinking about what to write. What’s the crux of my message? Be yourself when you are chatting or having a conversation with a writer. As long as you’re not using annoying abbreviations like “K” and ‘GM” you’ll be fine. All that attempt at pseudo-intellectualism is quickly found out, and frankly unnecessary.
They have an opinion about everything: No one should have an opinion about everything. Writers are not exempt. While writers, especially social commentators, are able to weigh in on many issues because it is their job to do so, there are certain subjects they are ill-informed to make comments about. Sometimes, when people ask me why I am not commenting on a certain subject matter, apart from the fact that I may simply not be interested in making comments about it, (especially if the subject has been belaboured in the media already), I am never hesitant to let them know if it’s a grey area for me. If I don’t understand an issue sufficiently, it makes no sense to do a half-baked article on it. Writers may have the gift of written expression, but they by no stretch of the imagination know it all.
Your secrets are not safe with them: This is a concern constantly expressed by close associates of writers. The inclination to believe that their writer friend will do a tell-all story on them is an ever-present one. I cannot totally rule this out as false because it’s quite true that writers draw inspiration and material from the day-to-day happenings around them. However, like every other profession, a writer knows where to draw the line, and is able to sieve confidential information from general ones. Except they are writing an autobiography or memoir which necessitates that real names be mentioned, they’ll use fictitious names in their narratives. Be not afraid, your secrets are safe with us.
They are good orators: Writers are assumed to have the gift of gab. This logic is based on the appearance of perfection and ease of the use of words as expressed in their pieces. Nothing could be further from the truth. Written communication and verbal communication are two different skills. In the way there are people who speak well but can hardly write to save their lives, we also have those who write better than the average person, but are appalling at expressing themselves verbally. Excellent writing skills do not translate to oratory prowess. They are two varying propositions. Speaking and presentation skills are not automatically imbued in the writer, like most people, they must put in the required practice if they intend to teach, train or become a speaker.
They are self-assured: Everyone sees the writer as the poster child for confidence. I mean, for someone to consistently air their views as boldly and as authoritatively as they do, surely, they must be operating on an enviable level of poise and self-belief? Wrong. If there’s ever a set of people that constantly doubt themselves, and struggle with insecurity, then it has to be writers. Even the most accomplished of writers have attested to the nervousness they feel whenever they put out their work. There’s always the uncertainty about how the reading public will receive your work as a writer. Questions like, “Will they get the message?” “Will they think I am actually terrible at this?” “Is something in my story going to misrepresent or offend a group of people?” always pop up in the minds of writers, and until a work is released they can never really tell what the reactions to it will be. However, the writer also learns to live with the nagging voice that threatens his belief in his craft. He must learn to deal with it if he plans to write for a long time.
I hope with these few insights, I have been able to help you dispel some of the myths surrounding a writer, and more importantly, understand your writer friend or colleague better.