Advertising
Advertising

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:

Advertising

1. We don’t have a social life

tumblr_inline_nd5c78I2we1rwx6hd

    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

    i-wrote-you-365-letters

      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

      Advertising

      tumblr_m775dofxwM1rqq0c0o1_500

        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

        tumblr_ms2esdgXeA1rjnbl0o1_500

          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

          harry-potter.jpg

            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.

            Advertising

            6. We all want to become teachers

            tumblr_mnkwu19hVB1sr4wq2o1_250

              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

              tumblr_inline_n2e8juKAqF1sv8m9q

                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

                Advertising

                tumblr_mcpwbc419o1r8v4r8

                  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

                  tumblr_mein7rzTOn1qb1vv2o1_500

                    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

                    tumblr_m6ocg2QZMA1raoyqxo1_500

                      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

                      More by this author

                      You Should Never Say These Six Things If You Want To Be Successful At Work The Power And Pitfalls Of Complete Vulnerability 5 Ways to Prepare for Success During Your Senior Year Of College 20 Things Only Children Understand Everyone Makes Mistakes, This Is How You Can Love and Forgive Yourself

                      Trending in Communication

                      1 5 Real Relationship Goals You Should Actually Strive Toward 2 When You Learn A Second Language, These 7 Amazing Things Will Happen To You 3 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 4 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 5 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

                      Read Next

                      Advertising
                      Advertising
                      Advertising

                      Last Updated on January 15, 2021

                      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                      The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

                      Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

                      Posture

                      First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

                      • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
                      • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
                      • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
                      • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

                      All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

                      Facial Expressions

                      Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

                      • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
                      • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
                      • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

                      If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

                      Advertising

                      1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

                      A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

                      The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

                      This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

                      2. Relax Your Face

                      New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

                      The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

                      To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

                      Advertising

                      3. Improve Your Eye Contact

                      Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

                      The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

                      To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

                      3. Smile More

                      There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

                      Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

                      4. Hand Gestures

                      Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

                      Advertising

                      It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

                      5. Enhance Your Handshake

                      In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

                      “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

                      It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

                      6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

                      As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

                      Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

                      Advertising

                      Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

                      Final Takeaways

                      Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

                      If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

                      More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

                      Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      Read Next