Stereotypes wouldn’t exist without reason. While they’re never the exact truth, they have to stem from somewhere. What do you think of when someone mentions a writer?
Maybe it’s having extreme fame, like J.K. Rowling or Rick Riordan. It’s movie deals, Broadway plays, and merchandise galore. But then there’s also the unsuccessful writer who’s never published anything and mooches off their spouse’s income, complaining away that their writing will never be appreciated by the world. But are either of these even true? There aren’t just two kinds of writers in the world. Some writers don’t even fit a stereotype (though that wouldn’t make this post any fun).
Since we have to deal with a lot of people within the writing world, writers have created stereotypes for other writers. Whether you’ve sat through your own share of writing workshops or are just tuning in to see what it’s like, we’ve all met one at least of these memorable people in our lifetime.
The Next Hemingway Wannabe
Briefcase? Check. Something tweed? Double check. Ratty moleskin notebook? Triple check. An annoying hat that was outdated even back when it was supposed to be fashionable? Maybe they pull out a feathery quill? Their manuscripts are always handwritten? I could keep going because the list is endless. Gotta look the part if you want to be the part, right?
They don’t really seem to eat, sleep, or possibly bathe. They’re only there to share their prolific gift with the rest of us apparent numbnuts. The only solace you’ll get is that their work is usually no better than your cousin’s – who just graduated middle school.
The Punk Prodigy
Eyes lined with kohl, bracelets wrapped up both arms, fingers glittering with amethyst rings . . . this person isn’t easy to miss. They love Amy Lee (though who really doesn’t) and the only other color you’ve possibly seen them in is brown. Their writing reflects their life, which isn’t sugarcoated when it comes to sexual frustration (or maybe lack thereof, who knows). It’s perfectly fine to write about what you know, but just don’t get mad when everybody doesn’t drop to their knees and praise your manuscript for its absolute “rawness.”
The Obnoxious Know It All
Just in case you didn’t know, this guy has an opinion. I mean, this person isn’t always a dude, but if they are, then you’re gonna have to deal with the dreaded “mansplaining.” You just want to block them out, but it’s so hard when they have something to say for literally everything. In case you forgot, they have an opinion! Hey – if the opinion was relevant, you wouldn’t mind. But you can’t get everything in life, can you?
Sometimes they’re also The Next Hemingway Wannabe and, if that’s happens, the whole class is totally screwed.
The Complete Novice
You ask them what genre they like to write, they don’t know. You ask them what they like to read, they don’t read. Sure, you might wonder what they’re doing there, but hey, everyone’s got to start from somewhere! Only, when they discover that creative writing isn’t just putting random words down on paper (and that they’ll have to use actual effort like any other academic class to not miserably fail) panic ensues.
The Secret Sadist
This person shows up for every class, sits in the corner, and hardly makes any more noise than a peep. You have a polite relationship that consists mostly of head nods and across-the-room smiles so, when the time comes for their workshop, you’re mildly curious to read this person’s work. They pass it out without a word and then, when you get around to reading it, it’s an eight page manuscript filled with detailed accounts of murder, rape, hard drugs, and you just sit there thinking – what the hell?
The Artistic Druggie
At first you think they’re just a little strange (because strange can also be endearing), but then you start to realize that they’re coming to class as high as the birds in the clouds. They pipe up every now and then with comments that you wonder are supposed to leave the rest of you feeling philosophical or just plain confused. And they absolutely reek. Perhaps the professor notices, perhaps they just don’t care. When you go to compliment their work and they’re like “thanks, I was stoned when I wrote that” like you’ve never actually seen them high before.
The Fandom Fanatic
This person shows up each day with a different geeky tee, or at leasts rotates between three or four key fandoms. They’re a Whovian, Potterhead, Trekki, and they’re proud of it. Their goal is to write the next YA masterpiece, so 90% of the time you’re going to end up reading some sort of supernatural (capitalized or uncapitalized, take your pick) fan fiction.
The Decent Surprise
Maybe they aren’t the next F. Scott Fitzgerald, but perhaps they could be with more practice. They seem relatively normal and have extracurricular activities that don’t just include brooding under shady trees and watching the world pass by. You probably won’t find them until the end of class because they won’t be one of the first to throw their work on the table. But, once you do finally cross paths, you know to stick with them.
My writing workshops wouldn’t have been nearly half as interesting without these writers. However, as much fun as this was, good writing isn’t categorized by tropes. Perhaps The Next Hemingway Wannabe will really learn to write some great literature somewhere down the road. Maybe The Secret Sadist will be the mastermind behind that gut-wrenching thriller and The Fandom Fanatic will go on to be a script writer for HBO. So keep on writing and keep on doing you, no matter what people say.
But what’s the point of writing if you can’t poke a little fun at it?