Being a writer is not easy.
Pay can be uncertain, getting published is a challenge, and finding validation is a struggle. Also, the ‘creative muse’ can desert us when we are in dire need for inspiration. I am sympathetic to writers, and always will be. This blog post isn’t directed at all writers, but to a loud few who embrace coddling to such a ridiculous level.
To be specific, I’m talking about the attitudes presented in the following Tweets:
As well as
On first glance, these tweets are positive and ask for understanding in a time of panic. Yet one can’t shake the feeling that they depict writers as irrationally insecure, who need coddling and constant reminders that their art makes ‘the doorways out.’
As someone familiar with the #WritingCommunity on Twitter, I know the prevalent attitudes and mindset.
Well enough to know the difference between ‘positive reinforcement’ and downright coddling.
Personally, I find such posts to be oddly insulting and borderline patronizing. I’m a writer, and yes, I believe my job has importance. I’ve said countless times that writers can change the world, influence discussion, and make a difference. Sometimes doing that requires bravery and strength.
What I take issue with is Victoria’s statement that art makes the doors. The implication being that art builds societies. Now, there is some truth in that. Without art, society wouldn’t be what it is today. Yet it isn’t just the artists- it’s also the doctors, the plumbers, the builders, the engineers, the educators, the politicians, the philosophers, the mechanics, the drivers, the soldiers, etc. That’s why I find her comments to be rather self-indulgent.
Joi-Marie’s comments are even more offensive. Being an ’Empath’ doesn’t make you weak, or less able to complete a creative task. Neither does having anxiety, which I am all too familiar with. Whilst I am sympathetic to Joi-Marie’s frustration with people saying ‘Shakespeare wrote masterpieces during a crisis’ I believe she takes her position too far.
Considering Joi-Marie’s tweet was shared among writers who get paid for their work, I take great issue with the implication here. That writers should be ‘excused’ for not producing high quality work as it is a time of crisis is rather perplexing. In response, perhaps publications, patrons and publishers are not required to pay the same amounts.
My point being: This isn’t National Novel Writing Month, where you may be slack and bend the rules. If someone is paying you for your writing, then they may expect a certain level of quality. We’re adults, and we should act like it. As a writer myself, I take pride in my audience, and I would never presume to lower my standards.
It’s also healthy to set expectations for yourself. I’m a writer who typically struggles under competitive environments. Yet they can motivate me and others to write better and produce more work. Writing is not Kindergarten, it’s an actual profession with high standards and a difficult barrier to enter.
When clients hold me to a high standard, I don’t see that as an insult. It’s a sign of respect, as they believe that I’m good enough to meet them.
Again, I am sympathetic to a lot of writer’s struggles. Yet personally, the moment I stopped making excuses for poor behaviour was when I excelled at writing. And isn’t that what we want? To improve storytelling. To create fiction that is powerful and makes a difference. And how are we going to do that if we keep making excuses for ourselves?
I love writing, but I’m under no pretense it’s meant to always be easy and pleasant. Sometimes it’s hard and painful. Well, that’s any profession. I’d hate to see engineers, scientists and philosophers slacking off because of difficult or uneasy parts of their jobs.
By all means, it’s okay to take a break, and to manage your health. Those are crucial parts of being a functional adult. Yet that isn’t the same as weakness.
Earlier in my blog post, I said writing can change the world. It can also warm people’s hearts and motivate individuals to change. Yet I believe literature can’t do those things if the author remains slack and coddled.
It’s up to you, as a writer, on how you approach excuses for writing. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several writers whilst creating Snowy Fictions and am deeply impressed by their high work ethic and dedication to their craft. Those are the traits that should be encouraged- not self-indulgence.
What are your thoughts? Comment below.
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