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Coach for beginner writers © 2019-2020 by Arina Polyakova Franzén

  • Arina Polyakova Franzén

Stereotypes about writers

A writer is not only the one who writes books

Let's start with the fact that many novice writers and merely writing people have a question when can they start calling themselves a writer. I am often approached by beginner writers, as they consider themselves, who come to extreme embarrassment when I call them colleagues. But is the writer only the one who writes books, and can be called so after a first publication? And what about those who write a single book all their lives, and, let's say, will make one of the most significant contributions to literature when they are done? Or how about those who do not have the opportunity to be published for some reason, and spread excerpts of their texts in newspapers, magazines and the Internet ...? Today there is a vast amount of definitions of a writer, and when he can consider himself as one, for example, when he published the first book, or when he was recognised by reading or even by writing community, etc. In my opinion, being a writer is more a state of mind, and if you consider yourself a writer without having published a single book, be it! Writers are creative and vulnerable people who cannot be framed in any matter, including profession. It is just one of the leading components of our job - to have freedom of creativity, freedom of speech and freedom of self-identification.


Another great stereotype about writers relates to their appearance. Imagine for a second, how do you think a writer should look? Personally, I draw a middle-aged man, in a stretched grey sweater of large mating, in the faded light blue jeans of an unknown year, and glasses; who often smoke and works tirelessly (forgive the classics) on a typewriter; and who lives only from a call to the call of his publisher. Perhaps such colourful writers still exist in our world, but they are uniques. Like all other professions, writing boldly stepped into the modern world of technology, and we have not worked on typewriters for a long time, which I, by the way, regret. While making a small digression, I will say that the pride of my collection is the antique typewriter Continental of the early 20th century, which I bought at an antique shop last year, and which almost crushed me on my way home when I was carrying it. Since then, it has been standing in my "red corner," as an admonition and a reminder of a recent past of my profession.

Returning to stereotypes about appearance, it should also be noted that genre affiliation is of great importance in this matter. For example, it is expected that children's authors will be dressed in innocuous light-coloured suits, story- and fairytale-tellers wear faddish clothes, authors of detective prose have the style of Sherlock Holmes, etc. And if the writer, for god's sake, does not meet expectations, then his work will also be treated scornfully. But who and when determined it?! I have been an opponent of these stereotypes for a long time, and I believe that a person should look like he wants and be the way he is comfortable. For example, I prefer dark-coloured clothing, more often in a soft Gothic style, but this does not at all correlate with my professionalism as a historian or a writer. You can not judge a person by his clothes, although, unfortunately, this is often the case. Therefore, colleagues, look as you think is necessary - "do not bend under a volatile world - let it better bend under us ...".


The third stereotype is what kind of education a writer should have. Answer: in fact, any, since higher education teaches, first of all, to think, analyse and make conclusions. Of course, a writer must be a literate person; otherwise, it will be unpleasant to read his works. But literacy can be improved regardless of education and initial training. Of course, philologists, journalists, and graduates of literary universities will have an easier time to navigate the craft, but we need to remember that "the gods do not burn pots." Any author, regardless of education, should improve his creativity and engage in literary self-education. If there is no progress, and if you are not (here I exaggerate, although sometimes it is so) ashamed of the previous texts, you can conclude that you trample on the spot. The writer must grow and develop throughout his career.

Other professions

Alas, not everyone in the modern world can afford to be just a writer. As a rule, people combine this profession with something else, which brings them a more substantial income. To the deep regret of many of us, writers earn negligible (what to hide?), if not to take into account those "giants" who created a world name. Particularly sad, that in many countries such a crucial intermediary chain in the publishing world is still not developed, as a literary agent. Authors, like moths, vainly struggle in attempts to be published. And even if stars converge, and the famous publishing house agrees to print several thousand copies of the new manuscript, it does not mean that the author will immediately get rich. He will be entitled to royalties (a one-time payment, or a percentage of sales - depends on the writer's contract with the publisher), but, as a rule, the amount is not sufficient to allow yourself to leave the previous job and devote entirely to the favourite business. It is the ruthless truth of the literary world.

...dream, strive, and do not stop on your way!

Here I will give a few examples of former professions of writers, before they became famous: Lewis Carroll was a mathematician, teacher, and photographer; Franz Kafka spent his entire life working as an insurance agent; Jack London was a seller of newspapers, a worker at the factory, even an "oyster pirate" and a sailor; Walter Scott was a lawyer; Anton Chekhov, Mikhail Bulgakov, Conan Doyle and many others belonged to the profession of doctors; Vladimir Nabokov was an entomologist; Haruki Murakami was a seller in a record store; Stephen King used to be a doorman, a janitor, and a teacher... There are countless examples of such stories.

Often the situation with writing is even the opposite from expected - you can count on the fingers of one hand those who graduated from the literature university and devoted themselves to the profession of the writer. So, dear writers, dream, strive, and do not stop on your way!