Writer – Stereotypes





The Drunk / The Poet

Made more common by the romantic English poets of the 1800s, one stereotype of writers, especially book authors and poetry chapbook writers – even more so, middle aged male poets, is that of a drunkard.  Sometimes the hung over person holds down a day job always hoping to earn more money selling chapbooks of poetry but forced to bar tend to earn a living.  In other cases, the stench of whiskey building up in the drunkard tends to improve the quality of the poetry to the dismay of everyone Godly, and to the not-alcoholic adult children and ex-spouse of the drunkard poet.

The Gossip / The Journalist

Journalists are not really writers;  they are gossips.  They are able to present themselves well and are eager for a story, but only a true news story.   While they are one of the best known and best paid types of writers, journalists are notoriously “not artists”, and due to that are as much weirdos compared to novelists as scientific illustrators and police sketch artists are compared to painters whose works end up sold in galleries, illustrators who work in comics and cartoons and so on.

Whereas a book author may spend months doing research in some of the world’s libraries, the journalists are on the telephone and rushing around, full of noise and energy, all to meet tight and real deadlines.

Journalists are also most likely to be guilty of something the poet would describe as a mortal sin: they shamelessly write for pay.  Many of them openly state that they write only because they get paid.

The Novelist

In this case there is more than one stereotype:

Rich and Happy

These authors are best sellers.  They have stable marriages in many cases.  They live in castles or mansions.  They may be average looking or handsome/beautiful.  They draw big crowds doing public speaking engagements and are consistently treated like adored and respected celebrities.  Many of them are fairly quiet and reserved, especially compared to the journalists, but are capable of being polite and friendly enough to be used as interview subjects by journalists.

Poor and Miserable

These are the majority of authors, who write or have written entire books only to find out that it is way harder to earn a lot of money for doing something major like writing books, than they had thought.  Most of this type of author fluctuates between lamenting suffering from the burden of being an author, and being forced to endure being an artist instead of having been one of the journalists or corporate communications people or happy to work in advertising firms and abusing their creativity for respectable salaries.

Some of these authors have jobs, and some don’t even have jobs because they are really novelists or nonfiction book writers, and aren’t good for much else.


These are the authors who suffer from compulsive writing, but they have a successful novel series and a good fan base.  Thanks to that, their mental illness is indulged, left untreated and viewed as a viable means of earning a living.  Such authors are often either treated as a celebrity or ignored.  The people who believe they love them the most really are the fans of the fictional worlds and characters they have created, putting them into a rather bizarre real world situation.


Writer’s Advice: seeking work online

Last week we discussed a little about writing, mainly for amateurs as I do not wish to give advice beyond what I actually know. I only attempted to write professionally after having had some success as an amateur and liking it. The success I had was not ‘huge’ or anything but was enough to make me think I had a chance. I was one of the kids published in the high school magazine and things like that. I am old enough for that to have happened before the Internet became regulated and popularized.

In the beginning of this century and millenium, like many writers, I was hoping for better luck as a professional. Now and then I had tried what was either the traditional approach or the old way. At this point I am not sure which is the better fitting description of the method.

In 2003 I received the suggestion to try seeking options online using a different search engine, so I did. I found some start up freelance sites and tried a few of them. One of them seemed able to supply me with some opportunities to get paid writing professionally. The pay was beginner rates. There were not always very many options but this way even though my networking skills were not very good I was able to find something, at least sometimes.

Since then, I found that I had more luck with one than the others. There are still problems. It also has not done what I had intended and hoped, which was to give me a good steady middle class income. It did not come even close to doing that. So, as I went along I also continued to seek to learn more about how to do it so that it would, without making it so that I don’t even like doing it anymore.

There are ways to use the Internet to get traditional writing contracts, not only freelance contract writing work, but to land more steady stable things – but I have not had success with that at this point. It clearly works for some people but not for everyone. There are also ways to get freelance contracts online. There are numerous freelancing sites but in the long run it is a crap shoot because it takes time to set up well at any one of them and the same one does not yield everyone the best results.