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Common Misconceptions of Writers: The Fact and The Fiction

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Misconception No.1: Money

There are so many perceived perceptions about writers. Some are mildly accurate, and others are considerably misguided. One example, is from when I was 17, a guy that one of my friends was seeing asked me what I wanted to do after I finished College, to which my friend interjected, quite quickly, that I wanted to be a writer. It's never been anything that I've hidden, so I was quite proud that my friend had spoken up so quickly. But, his reply wasn't quite so nice; "You don't want to earn any money then...?" and the comment has seriously annoyed me ever since.

The main reason the comment still annoys me even after eight years isn't because the guy was a prized idiot, or even anything to do with whom said it. It's more about the fact that there is this idea that all writers think about writing multi-million pound novels, and becoming the next J.K. Rowling or Jodi Picoult, selling the rights of our novels to film companies. Now, of course, having the opportunites that both these writers have had would be incredible, but I think it's fair to say that any writer who sets out with such high goals, is ever-so-slightly deluded. I'm not for a second saying that writers shouldn't aim high, because there is always a chance that film companies will come a-knocking on your door, but the chances are, quite honestly, slim.

For me, personally, writing isn't necessarily about signing big contracts with publishers, but more about being heard. The vast majority of writers have a great deal that they want to say, and writing it down is far easier to us generally, than saying it out loud. Writing is more about getting your thoughts and opinions down onto paper, it's about expressing yourself, it's about communicating. Any money earnt is never a bad thing, but to the majority of writers that I have encountered, writing is more of a passion than a quick-fix money spinner.

Misconception No.2: The Classics

One of the greatest misconceptions towards writers (and book lovers alike) is the notion that because you write and/or appreciate books, then you must have read every single "classic" work of literature. By classic I mean anything by the Bronte's, Austen, Dickens, Shakespeare etc. And, you must love them all. But, I haven't read any of them other than Shakespeare (and that was only because I studied Shakespeare at School), and to be quite honest, I have absolutely no interest in reading them.

I'd be interested to know where exactly this misconception comes from, and why it is just expected that we should all have to read certain books? I have attempted to read some old literature, and most of the time I find them very difficult to read, as I struggle getting past even the opening few pages. Whilst I appreciate the historical value of classic literature, I find it hard to read a book that I can not relate to, and I find it hard to relate to wealthy young ladies who's only real ambition in life is marrying a wealthy gentleman. I always feel like these characters live in a completely different world (well, obviously) and in a world that just seems so boring and uninteresting to me. I don't understand their world, or the decisions that the characters make, so I find them difficult to fathom at times. And due to the fact that language has progressed so much since these books were written, I often struggle to completely understand what is the writing is talking about. But it isn't only the obvious classics that I have struggled with, I have also struggled with the language of Peter Pan and Little Women, both of which I have enjoyed in film form, and yet the novel versions annoy me.

But, it is not only classic literature that I struggle with, I also don't like TV adaptations or films of these classic novels either. I find them incredibly boring, and could find many things that I'd rather be doing, like jabbing nine inch long nails into my neck and pretending that I am (quite ironically) Frankenstein!

On the flip side, I do quite enjoy modern takes on classic literature, like Clueless (Emma), O (Othello), and Cruel Intentions (Dangerous Liaisons), I find them quite refreshing as the Directors make these classics a little more adaptable and relatable to modern times and audiences.

I am not, of course, criticising anyone who does enjoy these works of literature, I am just iterating that just because I write does not means that I have to like everything that has ever been written that has ever been highly regarded.

Misconceshun No.3: Spelling

First of all, yes the title is a deliberate error!!

When I was young, I have to admit, quite smugly, that I had perfect scores on all of my weekly spelling tests. But as I've gotten older, my spelling appears to have become really bad. Is this because I'm not using certain words as much as I was when I was still in education, I wonder?

But this is where Misconception No.3 comes in. It is commonly believed that all writers should have perfect spelling all of the time, and I have to admit at getting annoyed at other peoples' poor spelling, but I also have to admit that mine isn't as up to scratch as I might hope. I sometimes wonder if people forget that although writers dedicate their lives to the written word, they all human. And, no human being is completely immune to making the odd mistake. Mistakes, especially speling mistakes caused by fast erratic tappig of keyboard keys, I think, is completely normal. I personally have to live beside my dictionary, and often have to check words that I know that I should seriously know how to spell, but for some reason just can not seem to grasp!

Some spelling mistakes that I have found (or subsequently misspelt myself) recently, include: Addresses, Necessary, Liaison, Whether/Weather, There/Their, Where/Were.

Consequently, recently I came across an advert looking for a quality writer with good grammar, with quality spelt QUALLITY - oh, the irony! And grammar spelt GRAMMER! It seems a little hypocritical to be so demanding if you can not proofread your own stuff (oh god, I now expect to have made so many mistakes in this article, I'm tempted to leave some in just for fun!)

Misconception No.4: Words

Some time ago, I bought My Word Coach, a game for the Nintendo DS. In the game, you have to work your way up the Vocabulary Chain from Pre-School all the way up to Writer. This instantly implies that a writer should somehow know every single English word known to man!


This is actually also a misconception amongst writers towards themselves, but why is there a misconception that writers must always use the biggest and most complicated looking words in order to be taken seriously.

It is almost as if we think that by using big words, this will make us look intelligent, as if we actually know what we're talking about. But, in truth, a lot of the time, using big words does nothing more than make us look pretentious.

I must admit that I have been known to sit with my nose inside my thesaurus looking for bigger words in order to make myself look smarter and more knowledgable, but if you don't really understand what the word actually means, this really isn't very cost-effective.

But is this use of long words more a simple matter of a lack of confidence? Or are some of us really that pretentious? I suspect that it's probably a mixture of both. But, you have to admit that there are a great many expectations put on writers when it comes to words. We are expected to know all of these complicated words, and society always gives the assumption that the longer the word and sentence length, the more highly educated that you must be.


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