Why Do People Think Writers Are Special?


Being a writer is a status symbol.

I’m not sure why, I just know that it is, or else I wouldn’t get indignant people asking me all the time, “you call yourself a writer?” when they are critiquing my work. There’s a lot of people who think it’s a special accolade when it’s just a word, it just describes the work someone gets paid to do.

Writing, for the the majority of people, is not a lucrative profession. You don’t need a lot of schooling in the way that makes doctors and lawyers prestigious. Sure, to be successful people have to pick your work out of others, but you could say that about any profession. You don’t see people lambasting others with, “you call yourself a retail worker?”

There are a lot of people who want to be writers but can’t finish a script or their novel or can’t seem to motivate themselves to sit down to write or have constant “writers block”? Maybe it’s because we’re stuck with this idea of a writer that doesn’t exist. What they want out of writing is not what they are receiving when they do it, which is why it’s so difficult for them to have enough motivation to follow through with their dreams. It’s like saying “Bloody Mary” three times in the mirror. You can say writers are these special people all you want to, but when Bloody Mary never appears, you’ve got to admit it’s not reality.

I think writers just have a stereotype of being like, whimsical manic pixie dream girls or something. I’m probably zero percent manic pixie dream girl. My Twitter bio will never say, “writer. dreamer. coffee addict.” I’m deeply uncomfortable with the idea of having such a big ego that I’d want people to see me as poetic and emo. Not because I’m morally superior, just because it seems so corny.

Being a writer isn’t anything special. It’s just a thing you do because it feels good or because someone is paying you to do it. Some people work out their problems or entertain themselves by running or yoga or by scrapbooking. Writing is just another thing in a long line of other things that people do, it doesn’t deserve any special place among them.

Some writers are special, for sure, but 99.99999999% of writers in the world will never be Salinger or DFW or Bukowski. That doesn’t mean anything. What percent of CEOs will ever become Steve Jobs? Very few people become stars, it’s the way life is. You can’t say a whole field of work is special for producing a few standouts every few years. It’s that way in every business. And personally, you shouldn’t start a hobby because you want to be a star in it. That’s not how stars start. Stars start because they can’t imagine doing anything else. What you are supposed to do will come naturally.

I don’t think people who are interested in being special or glamorous would like being a writer to begin with. You have to be realistic about economics: why would someone pay money or spend their time and energy reading something I just titled “chrissy’s ramblings?” You have to get people to care, which is a very difficult thing to do and something that’s especially tough for idealists because they’re always getting stuck on what people should care about. People aren’t that charitable. You have to provide entertainment to people or they’ll move on (or never discover you in the first place). Marketers do this every day, but they aren’t perceived as having a special status.

I wouldn’t want someone to not pursue the thing that naturally appeals to them the most because “writing” or something else seems fancier. That’s never true. What’s fancy and glamorous is being happy in your own skin and doing all the things that make sense to you and that you deeply want to do. That’s the life that should be idealized, no matter what it looks like. People should ask, “you call yourself a satisfied, happy person?” And we should all be able to respond, “Yes, yes I do.”