The Glamorous and Unattainable Writing Life: 6 Common Misconceptions About Being a Writer

Now that you've published a book, you can afford that fancy NYC loft, right? Emily Bleeker clears up a few common and hilarious misconceptions about writers.
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Now that you've published a book, you can afford that fancy NYC loft, right? Emily Bleeker clears up a few common and hilarious misconceptions about writers.

Authors in books, movies and TV shows are often eccentric and fascinating hermits for whom writing is their sole purpose in life. I like these depictions, and I wish I was as mysterious and exotic as my counterparts on the silver screen.

But the truth is, a lot of what makes up this fantasy version of a writer is either a fiction or an exaggeration. Whether in-person, on-line, or in an article no one asked me to write, I’ve made it my mission to clear up a few of these common and hilarious misconceptions about writers and authors.

1. Writers are all brooding, solitary introverts.

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This image of a brooding, lonely writer who spends his or her days and nights alone in front of a typewriter would lead you to believe that authors are an odd, rare breed that rarely, if ever see the light of day. Sure, a lot of authors have the introvert gene, but they are also some of the most friendly, caring and encouraging people I know—and REALLY funny. Writing CAN be a lonely job—but only if you choose for it to be.

2. Writers are all exceptional at spelling and grammar.

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to spell a word or had someone apologize for a minor grammatical error. Confession time—I’ve struggled with spelling my whole life. Authors are not perfect in every technical area having to do with writing and that’s pretty normal. Just like an accountant needs a calculator or spreadsheet, writers need some tools to make the technical aspects of their writing polished.

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3. Once you're published, you're rich.

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Authors are seen in books and movies as semi-celebrities or filthy rich after the launch of one book. This too is a bit of a fallacy (sorry fellow writers). The financial aspects of book writing are complicated and inconsistent. Nearly every writer I know has a “day job” of some kind. They are lawyers, real estate agents, doctors, data processors and accountants as well as dedicated to their craft.

4. Authors all know each other.

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I don’t know Stephen King… or J.K. Rowling… or Gillian Flynn… or… You get the idea. Sorry, all authors don’t know each other. But I can suggest some new names that might peak your interests and widen your horizons. (And Stephen, Joanne and Gillian—call me any time!)

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5. Authors have control over every part of the publishing process.

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So you don’t like my cover? First of all—uh—rude. Second of all—I can’t help you there! Covers (and often titles) are not the final choice of the author. I’m NOT kidding. I can pass on feedback and give my own but authors rarely make the final decision.

6. Authors have loads of spare time to write.

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Writing is usually something spoken of wistfully, planned for a future when there is magically “more time.” But the truth is—there is never more time. Authors don’t have boring lives or no obligations—they make time for their work and their creativity. Writing is a fun job, but a job nonetheless.

Okay, there are more misconceptions I don’t have time for—lots more: I don’t live in New York. I am not even sure what a “loft” is. I have only been to ONE fancy cocktail party and most of my business dealings are done via email, not phone or—gasp—in person.

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But as fun as it is to clear up some of these fantasies, I have to admit the main reason I do it is because if “writer” or “author” is a mythical creature in the eyes of the world then becoming one is an overwhelming and unattainable goal to onlookers. Then I worry that we are all missing out on meeting those future authors who could reach their dreams if they just knew a little more about the realities of the world they would like to join.

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EMILY BLEEKER is a former educator who learned to love writing while teaching a writer’s workshop. After surviving a battle with a rare form of cancer, she finally found the courage to share her stories, starting with her debut novel, Wreckage, followed by the “Wall Street Journal bestseller” When I’m Gone and Working Fire. Her latest novel is called The Waiting Room and publishes August 28, 2018. Emily currently lives with her family in suburban Chicago. Find out more about her at www.emilybleeker.com.

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