I read a wonderful article from Emily Harstone outlining 14 Myths About Writers, and a thought occurred to me: they all seem to stem from confirmation bias.
So, allow me to confirm that these myths really are myths through personal and professional experience. Since there are fourteen on her list, I’ll just tackle my five favorites/least favorites.
- As for the muse, frequent readers know how much I hate that myth, to the point where I find “muse” to be adversarial. Since I write, and I write daily, I know the muse is a bullshit excuse. Face it: if you blame a fairy tale for being too tired, too lazy, too whatever to write, then you’re going to starve if you want to live off a writing career.
- Next up, Harstone tackles the idea that poets kill themselves. Yeah, how many poets do you know? I know quite a few. They aren’t even remotely suicidal. For every poet a person can list who killed themselves, I believe I can list five who didn’t.
- Number three on Harstone’s list is that the day job is the enemy. While she maintains this isn’t true, I agree, to a point. You as a writer are your own worst enemy. It is possible to work so hard that you really are too tired when you get home to start writing. In that case, I’d suggest taking just fifteen minutes a day to write and see how it goes. Then devote a couple of hours to writing during your days off. Most of the time you’ll find that fifteen minutes is easy, and can write up to two or three hours before bedtime.
- All writers are alcoholics, and I’ll add drug users to this one. That is the biggest load of bullshit. Yes, there are some writers who abuse/use alcohol and drugs, but they aren’t any more or less creative than the ones who don’t. Such a sweeping generalization is something I find insulting to creative writers.
- Harstone includes the myth that “anyone can be a writer.” Nope. I think she says it best when she says, “It takes effort and sacrifice to be a writer. However many non-writers, people who have composed the occasional poem or short story, or not even that, don’t understand the effort that it requires to go from someone who is able to write to someone who is a writer.”
Enjoy reading her other nine myths. And yes, if you disagree, that’s fine, but keep in mind you may be suffering from a bad case of confirmation bias.
Anne Hogue-Boucher is not an alcoholic but somehow manages to write anyway, although some may argue her tweets and Facebook statuses make her seem a bit wonky. You can read her most recent short story, Exit 1042, at Amazon.