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10 Misconceptions About Writers You Probably Believe

10 Misconceptions About Writers You Probably Believe

Facing misconceptions about writers started with my family. The first time I told my them I wanted to be a writer, you would have guessed from their facial expressions that I’d received a death sentence. They nodded their heads, as if trying to process some horrible shock. Their eyes said they thought I was making a terrible mistake.

Fast forward four years later, and they still think I’m making a mistake. But you know what? I have to say it’s the best mistake of my life. I’m a writer, and you better believe I love being one.

The only thing I don’t love about being a writer is the stigma that comes with it. The idea that because I’m a writer I must be an introverted, troubled, potentially mentally-ill weirdo. And that I’ll inevitably end up as A) a teacher, B) a starving artist, or C) a moocher. While those stereotypes may be true for some, they don’t apply to us all. (Though, to be honest, the weirdo part definitely applies to me.)

So before anyone continues to make assumptions about writers, they should consider this: there’s a lot more to us than the names you see in newspapers and magazines, and our writing usually tells more about us than what we’d tell you in person.

Here are 10 things people misunderstand about writers as a whole:

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1. We don’t have a social life

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    People often assume that if you write and read for a living, that’s all you do in your free time, too. I think I speak for most of us when I say that’s not at all true. Of all my friends, I actually consider the ones who are writers to have the most interesting and lively social lives. I mean, how else do you think writers come up with the inspiration for all their bizarre, elaborate stories? By locking themselves in their rooms all day? Please.

    2. We exaggerate constantly

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      Sure, we’re seen as the hopeless romantics and disturbed dreamers of the creative world. But we’ve got a trick or two up our sleeves. Writers have the gift to put power and emotion into words, but often people equate this with exaggerating for the sake of getting a point across to our readers. That’s not to say we fictionalize our thoughts and feelings, per se, but we might add a little spice to our writing from time to time to give it some intrigue.

      3. We read really really fast

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        Just because we write and read for a living doesn’t mean we’re all super-human readers. In fact, I’m pretty sure writers take longer to read than most. Have you ever come across a novel that’s nearly indecipherable because of the overwhelming number of highlighted passages, notes, scribbles, and bookmarked pages? If so, I’m betting the person responsible was a writer. And if not, then they should become one because no other group of people would consider destroying literature as an act of love and admiration. Joan Didion, this is my shout-out to you. The Year of Magical Thinking is now the most illegible volume on my bookshelf.

        4. We can come up with a story in no time

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          This ties in with the point above. It’s not like we have magic fingers, people. We don’t light-speed our way across a keyboard or zap a Pulitzer Prize-worthy story to life on our computer screens, though we wish we could. No, it takes time, lots of it. Coming up with a story takes patience, planning, late nights, early mornings, and bucket loads of coffee. It’s no picnic in the park. Well, actually, I take that back. It’s like a picnic in the park until you realize there’s ants all over your food and you have to find some elaborate way to lead them away without killing them. The point is, a good story requires critical thinking. Without it, the ants win.

          5. We are not expected to make money

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            The main concern everyone expresses towards writers is how we all expect to make money, but let me run this thought by you: A couple years ago, a single mother on welfare decided to write a fantasy novel that eventually turned her into one of the richest women in the world today. Her name is J.K. Rowling, you might have heard of her. Through writing, she made millions. And she’s not the only one. Writers are often viewed as the underdogs of the moneymaking race, but the truth is we all have the potential to be extremely successful. It’s just that most of us put success in our craft before success in our bank accounts.

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            6. We all want to become teachers

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              If I’m asked one more time if I want to teach after getting my degree in creative writing, I may flip out. Look, if I wanted to teach I would have gotten an education major. I understand that some English majors do plan on going into teaching after graduation, but it’s wrong to assume all of us wish to follow in their footsteps. Also, we don’t all want to become novelists. There are plenty of other career paths for writers besides those two positions. Just saying.

              7. We think writing is, you know, pretty OK

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                I may often complain about my writing classes or professors. But at the end of the day, there’s no doubt in my mind I love writing. I once had a professor who told us that if we loved writing, we were doing it wrong. While I understand why he said that, I also understand that everyone’s experiences are different. In my personal opinion, you truly have to love writing in order to be a writer, in addition to accepting the fact your butt may resemble a pancake after several hours of story-making.

                8. Writing is the most relaxing job imaginable

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                  A career in writing may not be as grueling or demanding as a career in medicine, but that’s not to say writers don’t experience their fair share of difficulties. Not only do we spend hours upon hours writing, rewriting, brainstorming, and usually scrapping our work, but we face loads of criticism on a day-to-day basis. Writers have to pretty much walk on virtual eggshells every time we post anything on the internet because we all know someone, somewhere, will find the misspelled word or grammatical mistakes in our writing. I could go on all day about how difficult writing is at times, but I think you already get the point. Writing is a tough business. Enough said.

                  9. We can finish our pieces whenever we want

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                    Believe it or not, almost all writers work on a deadline. And believe it or not, almost all of us wait until the very last second to turn our work in. It’s not that we’re lazy. Quite the opposite actually. The reason most writers wait until the deadline is because we’re perfectionists. We want our work to be spectacular, free from error, and purposeful before we send it anywhere. So naturally we procrastinate until we feel it’s ready to be submitted. And trust me, we’re fantastic at it. The story is due by 11:59 p.m., and we wait until 11:57 p.m. on that day to submit it simply because we can—and much to the annoyance of our editors. Plus, it helps to have a creative mind when you’re working under deadline. The stuff some writers can create at the last minute never ceases to amaze me.

                    10. We’re all boring nerds

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                      As I said earlier, we’re the quirkiest of the quirks out there. And I’ll admit, we are. I don’t think I’ve ever gone into a creative writing workshop expecting to find the most normal group of people there, but then again I’m glad I didn’t. Though we’re a quirky bunch of creative enthusiasts, writers are some of the most awesome people you will ever meet. We may not be social butterflies and we may spend a lot of our time with our noses in books and our fingers on keyboards, but what we lack on the surface we make up for in character.

                      So before you judge a book—I mean, a writer—by the cover, consider these typical misconceptions about writers. And while we may be the underdogs of the professional world, there’s a lot more to us than meets the eye. That “more” can be found all over our blogs and Word docs.

                      Featured photo credit: typewriter/Lívia Cristina L. C. via flic.kr

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                      Last Updated on April 8, 2020

                      11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

                      11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

                      We all know some overachievers: supermoms who manage to get online degrees between cleaning, cooking, and taking kids to practice; students who write 10-page papers when the directions call for 4; managers whose resumes look more like pages from the Guinness book of Records.

                      How do they do it all? How is it possible that one person can graduate at the top of their class, found an orphanage in India, run 30k marathons, write a best-selling book, travel all over the world and learn to speak Mandarin Chinese while having a full-time job?

                      What’s the secret of an overachiever? Here’re 11 things overachievers do differently that you can learn from.

                      1. They Know How to Manage Their Time

                      It’s pretty simple actually – you can never become an overachiever if you don’t know how to organize your time efficiently.

                      The great thing is that overachievers are ready to share their knowledge and time management talent with the rest of the world. Read The 4-Hour Workweek or The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

                      2. They Don’t Spend Hours Watching TV or Playing Computer Games

                      Mostly because they have better things to do, like exercising, reading, spending an evening with their family or volunteering to work in the local soup kitchen. Their philosophy is simple – the world is full of wonderful things to try, explore and experience. Watching TV is not one of them.

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                      3. They Are Obsessed With Perfection

                      Imagine Steve Jobs’ work approach and you’ll understand the level of perfection and painfully high standards that overachievers set for themselves and those around them. Often it pays off (especially if they focus on just one domain). But sometimes compulsive over-striving turns into a sure-fire road to disappointments and unfinished tasks.

                      Learn how to strike a balance: How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up

                      4. They Know How To Inspire

                      Overachievers learn quickly that it is much easier to achieve goals through collaboration (and especially delegation). So they know how to inspire, encourage, persuade and motivate people around them. Even though they often drive their team crazy with their stubbornness and perfectionism, people quickly follow under the spell of their enthusiasm and greater vision.

                      Learn these 10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively.

                      5. They Set Clear Goals

                      The term “overachiever” itself implies that they know how to achieve goals. That is kind of hard to do if your goals are vague, unclear and lack specific deadline, which is why overachievers educate themselves, read goal-setting books, and think about the best way to approach a new task.

                      Although, it’s worth mentioning that overachievers usually use their time management and goal-setting skills towards competitive, “I want to kick butt” type of goals rather than self-improvement, mastery goals.

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                      Take a look at these tips to help you set clearer goals: What Are SMART Goals (And How to Use Them to Become Successful)

                      6. They Are Organized

                      It’s hard to imagine a disorganized overachiever, isn’t it? Their great organizational and planning skills usually serve three main purposes: keeping track of time, keeping track of progress and keeping track of achievements.

                      This hasn’t been confirmed by scientific research yet, but overachievers might actually get a “runner’s high” from crossing tasks off their to-do lists, and making new to-do lists.

                      Here’s How to Organize Your Life: 10 Habits of Really Organized People

                      7. They Try to Avoid Failure at All Costs

                      Some psychologists believe that overachievers place their self-worth on their competence, driven by an underlying fear of failure. Rather than setting and striving for goals based on a pure desire to achieve, their core motivation becomes avoiding failure. This may explain the fact that overachiever beat themselves up for even little setbacks and seemingly-insignificant mistakes.

                      But be aware that having a strong fear of failure can wrek havoc your productivity. So the best thing to do? Learn to conquer the fear: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It)

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                      8. They Love Awards

                      Who doesn’t love them, right? True enough, but unlike most people who like to feel acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts, overachievers are bent on collecting ‘awards’, be it university degrees, spelling bee prizes or unusual destinations.

                      While loving awares isn’t bad, it’s even better if you’re driven by internal motivation instead of external ones which could be quite uncontrolable or unstable: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It).

                      9. They Don’t Understand the Concept of Work Hours

                      Don’t get surprised if you receive a work-related email anywhere between 8 p.m. and midnight. It’s something overachievers usually do and you weren’t the only one. At least 20 more emails have been sent during these hours to other people. The concepts of over-achieving and working overtime usually go hand in hand.

                      The downside of this is an imbalnced life, which may need to problems in other aspects of life including health and relationships. A better way is to Achieve a Realistic Work Life Balance.

                      10. They Rest

                      Overachievers might often be labeled as “workaholics”, because they often ignore bodily signs of hunger, fatigue and even a full bladder, hoping to finish just one last little part. This doesn’t mean that overachievers don’t know how to disconnect and relax.

                      True that they tend to work in the highest gear, but they also have enough sense to give themselves time to rest and recharge. Of course, they do it in their own overachieving way, preferring climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or hiking through the Amazon jungle to lazing on the beach.

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                      11. Overachievers Continuously Educate Themselves

                      A great quality that most overachievers have is the hunger for knowledge. They surround themselves with bright people. They know how to listen, and most importantly, they get tons of mentoring.

                      Despite the fact that overachievers want to excel at everything they set their minds on, they are humble enough to admit that to get on top of their game, they need help. And they are willing to pay someone to push, coach and guide them.

                      You too can learn How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You.

                      More Tips to Help You Achieve Success

                      Featured photo credit: Nghia Le via unsplash.com

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