10 More Incorrect Assumptions About Writers

This post is a somewhat snarky continuation of last month’s 10 Incorrect Assumptions About Writers article.

#11 Writers don’t actually work that much

Grab a notebook and a pencil and people admire your dedication. Crack open a laptop and everyone assumes you’re playing games. Granted, all the Netflix jokes we make don’t help our case, but still. We writers take our work pretty seriously.

I’ve had people watch me type away for a bit and then say something like, “So…is that work stuff, or are you just goofing off?” I know they’re probably joking, but how would it look if I walked up to a busy firefighter and said, “So…are you putting that out, or just toasting marshmallows?”

#12 Writers are always available for language-related favors

I think every writer in existence has experienced this at least once. Your classmates need a paper proofread, and it’s due in an hour, and you’re not busy so you can do it for free, right? Well…no. Not right. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind lending a hand (and I did all throughout college). I’ll be glad to look over your paper. If I can do it when it fits my schedule, and if it’s only a few pages, and if I don’t have paying work to finish first. Because, believe it or not, I do occasionally get paid to do just that. Wait in line.

#13 Writers need English and/or Creative Writing degrees

Did I take creative writing classes in college? Yes. Did I graduate with a degree in English? Yes. Did it revolutionize the way I write fiction? No. Most of what I’ve learned about writing has been through my own writing and reading. I know of writers who got all the degrees and drastically improved because of them, but degrees don’t grant you innate skill, nor do they guarantee success.

[Note: my classes, teachers, and studies were fantastic. I’m not degrading any of them. I did learn stuff about literature, grammar, history, etc (go to college, kids!). But I didn’t learn anything about creating a story from nothing and putting it into writing that I didn’t already know (or would come to know in the future) from experience and self-teaching.]

#14 Writers always stay indoors

We stay inside a lot because that’s where our work is, and we love our work. But that doesn’t mean we’ll burst into flames if we walk out the front door (well, most of us won’t). Writers love walks, nature, cities, fresh air, sunshine/rain as much as anyone else (Pokemon Go, anyone?). If anything we wish we could be out more, but, you know, laptops have a limited battery life.

#15 Writers lack social skills

Again, we joke about this a lot. But most of the time it’s just not true. A lot of writers are introverts, and a lot of introverts are shy (there is a difference, people), but we can still go out, smile, shake hands, meet people, converse, and interact with society when we want to. Maybe we just tend to want to a little less than others.

#16 Writers hate editing

Editing, the great evil torture process that stifles creativity and drags writers down into the mire of technicalities. Actually, there’s just as much creativity in rewrites and edits as there is in first draft writing. I know a lot of writers (myself included) who enjoy the second and third draft process just as much as the first draft. Now, proofreading? That’s a different story…

#17 Writers want to be just like famous authors

“Oh, you write fantasy? So you wanna be the next Tolkien/Rowling/Martin, I guess.”

No, actually, I don’t. Tolkien, Rowling, and Martin were/are talented, successful authors that a lot of people look up to. But Tolkien gets boring, Rowling spams plot holes, and Martin needs to get his moral compass checked for signs of life (my opinions, calm down).

My point is, I don’t want to be them, or even like them. I want to achieve what they achieved, yes, but in my own way, with my own voice, and my own stories.

#18 Writers disregard basic and routine activities

“You’re a writer, huh? Must be nice to work from home. You don’t have to get up early, shower, or follow meal schedules like the rest of us. You don’t even have to get dressed if you don’t want.”

Bottom line: that’s a bunch of garbage. We work hard. Most of us have other jobs. We follow routines. We have self-respect and a sense of hygiene.

Writer does not mean slob.

#19 Writers need to work with major publishers

Would I love to have one of my books eventually published by one of the big names? Of course. Are my career as a writer and my love for storytelling defined by that factor? Absolutely not. Mainstream publishing houses have competition in the form of indie-publishers, self-publishing, etc. I don’t need a six-figure deal to be a good writer.

If anyone’s reading this that wants to offer me a six-figure deal, I graciously accept. 

#20 Writers thrive in coffee shops

This is true for some writers, but not for all. I’m jealous of the people who a.) have access to coffee shops nearby, and b.) look super sophisticated with their million dollar Apple devices while still getting chapters done by the refill.

I’m not that guy. For instance, I’ve been into Starbucks three times in my life. Once as part of a group. I didn’t order anything. The second time was in February in Chicago. I panicked and ordered a slushy. The third time, I tried to order coffee. Emphasis on tried. Turns out you need a degree in Latin just to get a napkin in that hipster nest.

Starbucks is the worst. That’s really all I’m getting at in this whole post.


Take this post with a grain of salt and a pinch of humor. If you’re guilty of making any of these assumptions, ultimate shame on you. Now, you’ll have to excuse me. It’s almost 2:00 in the afternoon. Time for me to get dressed.

10 Incorrect Assumptions About Writers

Let’s face it, we writers have built something of a reputation for ourselves. I won’t deny my own…unique characteristics, and I know you lot are in the same boat. But that doesn’t mean everything non-writers think about us is necessarily true. In fact, here are some common misconceptions people tend to have about writers that are usually false:

#1 Writers depend on inspiration

In this scenario, I define inspiration as the strong urge to write (as opposed to inspiration from a specific place or person). While inspiration is helpful, serious writers discipline themselves to write regardless of whether or not they’re inspired at the time.

#2 Writing is just a hobby

For a lot of people, it is. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But people don’t seem to realize that writing can also be a vocation, a life-ambition, and even a full career.

#3 Writers don’t enjoy other people

I don’t think this is the case at all. Sure, we often seclude ourselves to work, and a lot of us are strong introverts. But we still need people. We need friends and loved ones just as much as the next guy.

#4 Anyone can be a writer

False. Not everyone can be a writer. Sure, anyone can pick up a pen and write a two-page story. Pretty much everyone I know has started a novel at some point. But it’s the stubborn dedication to finish that novel that sets apart the writers from the casual dabblers.

#5 Writers only write when they have time

While it’s true that most writers have day jobs and other responsibilities competing for their time, anyone who is serious about their craft will actively carve out time, even in little amounts here and there, to set aside for writing.

#6 Writers are always looking for input

Sorry guys, but writers don’t necessarily need suggestions about their next plot twist or character creation. Of course, we’ll occasionally ask for help (normally from other writers), but for the most part we don’t need to be told what to write about next.

#7 Writers are always depressed

I’m honestly not sure where this belief originated. It’s just not true. Most of the writers I know are the happiest people alive. Granted, maybe we tend to experience emotions more intensely than some others (I’m sure there’s a whole science behind that possibility), but that doesn’t mean we’re always depressed.

#8 Writers base characters on their friends

This one is partially true, because a lot of writers take personality traits from friends or family members and incorporate them into their characters. But it’s false to think every character in a book is a carbon copy of one of the author’s friends.

#9 Writers base the protagonist on themselves

Similarly to the last point, writers don’t actually make themselves the protagonist all the time. As a matter of fact, I’d say we’re trying very hard not to do so. I don’t quite get why so many people ask me “so are you the main character?” when they read my book. Honestly, we’re not even that similar (I hope).

#10 Writers can’t make money

I’ve talked about this before. When I tell people I’m a writer/author, they automatically say something like “oh, but it’s so hard to make a living doing that. What’s your real job?” And while I understand the sentiment, and they’re not technically wrong, I would like to remind everyone that with a lot of hard work and a bit of luck, it is actually possible to earn a basic living writing books.


What assumptions have people made about you when they find out you’re a writer? Are some of them true? Or are you drastically misunderstood? Let me know in the comments below. In the meanwhile, have a great day!

6 False Assumptions About Readers

#1 Readers care about your characters by default

For a reader to invest in your protagonist takes time. Don’t expect much of an emotional response in the first chapters of your book. Establishing that connection between the reader and the character requires practice and effort.

#2 Readers actually read long description chunks

I’m a reader as well as a writer. I skip those pages of description, especially if it’s just linear location description (ehem, Tolkien). In all honesty, unless it’s super relevant to the story, I probably don’t care too much what colors the drapes are. Should you avoid all description? No, of course not. It can be relevant and it can be interesting. But don’t assume readers pay attention to all of it.

#3 Readers need constant reminders

Readers have better memory than we often give them credit for. If you slipped in hints about a plot twist, or foreshadowing, or anything of the sort, you probably don’t have to keep bringing it up to make sure readers haven’t forgotten.

#4 Readers won’t pick up on subtleties

Similar to #3. Readers are smart. They’ll catch nonverbals, hints, and between-the-lines suggestions. To state everything in an obvious way is to dumb down your story. Don’t give in to the I have to make this super-clear, otherwise they won’t catch on urge.

#5 Readers read at the same speed you write

Duh. It’s not hard to figure out, but I often forget. It’s important to not make this assumption without realizing it in terms of pacing. What feels like a super long chapter to you as the writer may only take a few minutes to read.

#6 Readers need attractive protagonists

I know I’ve talked about this before, but it still irks me. Authors and cover artists, I’m begging you to listen: if you rely on attractive bodies and front-cover models to sell your story, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. Please, please, please stop! Readers should invest in real, human characters regardless of physical appearance. Don’t assume hot protagonist = happy reader!