Stop Being The Writer You Are

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Let me ask you a question – imagine someone is basing a character on you as a writer. How would they portray it, what “writer archetype” would you easily map to?

My guess is that answer came a bit too easily, or that once you examined it, you found the choice was not quite right.

Our culture provides us many ways to think about being a writer – roles and tropes and ideas of who we should be. Lately I’ve been aware of just how often writers (and indeed creatives) slot themselves into various cultural tropes. I think it’s actually holding us back.

How often have you met people describe themselves as “X kind of writer?” How many people have said “I’m trying to be like X?” Have you ever met someone who seemed to be playing a “role” as an author like Unappreciated Creator or Self-Depreciating Writer or Calculating Opportunist? Culture provides us many ways to think about ourselves.

How do you think about yourself? And is it healthy? I’ve come to wonder if the roles society gives us aren’t that healthy.

There’s so many negative ideas of authors and all creatives. There’s the inevitable Sad Failed Author, or the Unappreciated Auteur. There’s the Has-Been, and the Never Will be. If we’re not thinking of ourselves in bad ways, we worry others may fit us into the tropes.

There’s also so many limited ideas of author. How many people “Just Write X?” How many people “Want To Be Like Y” – the way so many movies are “like A plus B.” How many roles, even positive, are constraining?

So here’s my challenge to you. I want you to rethink yourself as a writer. Come up with a way to describe yourself that’s your own. Define yourself.

Perhaps you do it like a Fantasy Class. Are you a Fantasybender? Are you a Priestess of Promotional Advice?

Maybe you do this in a simple evocative way. You’re the Hard-Bitten Humorist. You’re The Worldbuilding Guru.

Another way to do this is put it as a role. Supporter of Cosplayers. Crafter of Sarcasm.

Try any of those, but I challenge you now to come up with a way to describe you, as a writer, that’s yours.

Steven Savage