How Can I Be a Writer, I’m Not _______

How Can I Be a Writer?

There are so many images of writers: smoking, coffee guzzling, depressed alcoholics pouring their hearts and souls into their words. Those grizzled, introverted men who know writing is their raison d’être*, their one, true calling!writer_morgan

I don’t look like that.

I don’t smoke, nor drink coffee**, and I rarely drink alcohol, even socially. I’m about as ungrizzled as a person can be***.


Plus, you know what? I don’t think of writing as ‘my calling.’ It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but I’d still be me, even if I stopped writing.

I have no better idea than you do about why we’re here, but the best I can figure out is that we’re here just for the experience points.


Yes, people who struggle daily against the oppression of depression can be writers. Your brain chemistry, no matter what you might struggle with, gives you insight into characters that no one else could write.

And those characters may be just what someone else needs to read, to know they’re not alone.

If you get medication or other treatments to help you cope better? That doesn’t take away your uniqueness, it just gives you something else to work with.

For those of us whose brain chemistries are naturally more cooperative? That’s okay.

Even if you’re not an introvert, relying on the written word to communicate coherently, doesn’t mean your words cannot have beauty in them.

Just because you’re not a “tortured artist” doesn’t mean your writing can’t be just as meaningful and insightful.


We all bring something different to the page, and that’s a good thing.

How are you different than the caricature of a writer?

What does that add to your writing?


P.S. April 22nd is the 2nd anniversary of this blog. Happy blogiversary to me!

* Reason to be (in french).
**Or dark soda, I resort to Sunkist for my caffeine no more than 3Xs a week.
***At my age


  1. Writing is what you do, not what you drink, or look like. You can always hang out with a grizzled, coffee-guzzling scribbler, if you feel the lack of grizzle in your life. 🙂

    Joking aside, your post today reminds me of when critics slammed a woman songwriter who grew up in the affluent Maryland suburbs for not having paid her “dues in life,” and do dismissed her work entirely as “artificial.” Of course, those critics didn’t have the talent of Mary Chapin Carpenter, so it might have been a bunch of sour grapes.

    Keep writing, keep editing, writing is what we do. Everything else is fluff.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sacrilege! How can you possibly hope to be taken seriously without looking like Albert Camus? Seriously though. . .

    I think it’s important to write from experience/what we know, whether that means drawing from life events, meticulous research, or simply our day to-day interactions and relationships. With this in mind, it’s easy to romanticize the grizzled, tortured writer soul because we assume outward appearance indicates inner depth. The exterior doesn’t make a writer though. We should never judge a writer by her. . . cover?

    So how do I differ? I’m an intensely positive person, generally and genuinely happy, who writes pretty heavy coming-of-age stuff. I probably project sunshine and rainbows, but my book is tough and serious. Maybe I ought to stop shaving and try on the Camus look for size. . .

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think you’re spot on, when you say: “Your brain chemistry, no matter what you might struggle with, gives you insight into characters that no one else could write.” That’s just it, everyone has a different “brain chemistry”, and everyone, no matter how sunny, struggles with something, somewhere, be it the zipper on their coat when it gets stuck in the morning before work.

    The caricature of the tortured artist is possible a caricature of what the protagonists of a story have to be, or a hint at what they ought to be, for the story to be interesting. Namely, one of the first rules of writing is that something, somewhere in the story has to go wrong (like that zipper). And not only must one thing go wrong, in fact, so many things have to go wrong, that if you were drawing a parallel between story and personal appearance, you might end up with the caricature of the tortured artist. Sunshine, rainbows and optimism don’t work in fiction, unless preceded by heartbreaking struggle.


    1. I think people get confused between conflict and torturing their characters.

      I write YA fantasy, a genre defined by ‘hope’

      The declaration that optimism and sunshine can’t happen without heartbreaking struggle seems like falling back on those stereotypes!

      Sometimes sunshine and optimism are what helps the main character through their struggles.

      Not all struggles have to be heartbreaking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hehe, you’re right, I didn’t mean heartbreak in the extreme. But as you say, there have to be struggles (that can be gotten through with sunshine and optimism, as valid an approach as any). And, by definition, struggles and conflict are troubling, if not torturous. I was also referring to the usual advice that the best novels are those where the protagonists act at the top of their capacity range (be they kids, YA, or adults, across all genres), meaning that they don’t just breeze through any problems thrown their way … and once it’s phrased that way, we’re dangerously close to having to push the protagonists into situations that “stretch” them, in which they “grow”, and none of that comes pain-free. That doesn’t mean the extreme kind of heartbreak, I agree (for reader, writer or protagonist), but the tug on the heartstrings (or some kind of strings, mindstrings?) — that’s gotta be there.

        Liked by 1 person

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