You’re a writer. Therefore, you are a depressed starving artist who survives on whiskey. Right?
Myths. Stereotypes. Assumptions. The notion that not only are these things connected with writers, but that they are actually necessary for a person to be a good writer is harmful.
Seriously, why would we think it’s okay to tell a group of people that their life must be in danger in order for them to succeed at their passion?
Because if you are starving, your life is in danger. If you are depressed, your life is in danger. If you are an alcoholic, your life is in danger.
And let me tell you, those are not good conditions for creativity. Stress and fear destroy inspiration. If you’re worrying about where your next meal is going to come from or if you’re going to make it to tomorrow, you will not be focused on writing. It’s not possible.
So why would we make people believe that they need this sort of turmoil to be a good writer? You must be an angry person to write such angry stuff. Your childhood must have been so messed up. Do you write drunk or stoned? Just stop. Otherwise, we’re producing three things:
By presenting poverty, mental illness, and substance abuse in a positive light, as necessary for artistic success, we trivialize the battles of people who deal with those issues every single day.
Guess what? I am a writer. I live a comfortable life. I am happy. I have overcome challenges, and they have strengthened me—and certainly color my writing—but they are a part of who I am, a part of my journey and my story. They are not the reason I am a writer.
What do you think? Time to ditch the stereotypes?
Author & Editor
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