Being Comfortable in Your (Writer) Skin

Lots of books cover being comfortable in your own skin. They center on being content with who you are and what you do. As a writer, or someone who is required to write frequently, you should know this: Authors of any kind sometimes get misread (pun intended).  I hear some interesting opinions about writers. My responses to these misconceptions concerning them are in italics.

Writers are anti-social

If I avoided people, I’d have little to write about.  

A number of writers are introverts and some people may perceive this as shy, standoffish, or even mean. Just because you are more comfortable inside a library than you might be dancing at a grand ball doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.

Some writers are also wonderful observers of life and have fantastic insight in problems and human nature. But, to do so they feel the need to step back from life sometimes. They may not be available anytime or show up for every event. Not all creative folks are introverts. Some might be 50% introvert 50% extrovert, or 60/40 leaning toward introvert. This 60/40 is where I see myself. I like to meet new friends and enjoy talking about ideas I’m passionate about. I also value quiet time. It’s OK if you’re wired that way. If writers didn’t value solitude, when would they create?

Writing is just an opportunity for the writer to talk about themselves

Writing- apple-with seedIf this were true, the well would run dry.

There are only so many stories I can tell about me – most of them embarrassing. Past experiences are good sparks, but then those spark usually meld with what I’ve learned and I discover something new. To remain interesting my writing needs to go outside of me and requires research beyond what I know. Your words should do the same. If they do, you won’t run out of topics any more than the world will run out of apple seeds.

Writers write because it’s cathartic

This is true; but for me, that isn’t my reason.

Whether you write for pleasure, publication, or for your profession, some folks will count it as unimportant. A friend of mine, who is a full-time writer, tells a story of how his relative thought his writing was a hobby until his work paid for himself, his wife, and that relative to go to Hawaii. Words are alive. Putting several words together into a coherent piece gives them the ability to inspire a new idea, alter a life, and live on after you die. For me writing isn’t black and white, it is always in color. This power in words is what fuels my writing. True, some will not understand that, but keep writing anyway. What you do matters.

2 Writing Survivor Tips:

Develop a thick skin.

Thick skin helps when others don’t understand. It also helps when editors and other writers give you constructive criticism. When your writing needs improving, good writer friends will tear apart your work and then help you reconstruct it. And the voice will still sound like yours. Realizing there is always room for improvement will help you advance. People may attack or criticize without giving you reason or direction (but that’s where the thick skin comes in).

Writing - DreamMeasure your progress, but not against the success of others.

Define what success means for you and then work towards it. Don’t focus on what someone else makes or how many books they sell. Find plans and schedules that work for you, and then start immediately working on them. You’ll be happier achieving your goals than trying to duplicate someone else. That way you will always feel comfortable in your own writer skin.

Have you ever been misunderstood as a writer? Leave a comment to encourage others.

Do you know someone who is discouraged or misunderstood. Pass this on.

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21 comments on “Being Comfortable in Your (Writer) Skin
  1. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  2. Thank you also for reading my blog.

  3. I enjoyed reading this. It is very helpful and gives me understanding and acceptance for who I am as a writer. Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Hunter says:

    Wonderful post. I’m glad you visited my own blog so that I could discover you.

  5. Erica says:

    One of your best, Peter. Excellent post. Yes, people assume and misunderstand quite frequently. Especially when they learn that I’m a writer in the first place. Unless I can say that I’ve published a book (which I haven’t yet), people think I’m unemployed. And they think that freelancing is something to do until I find a real job. “This IS going to be my real job.”

    Great post, Peter. Just what I needed to hear today. Thank you.

    Oh, and like you, I’m a great collector of pens. Love the feather pen graphic.

    • So glad to know that this encouraged you. As far as the pens I can stop anytime I want. 🙂 A couple of years ago, I gathered up a bunch for a mission that was collecting school supplies, but they have started to accumulate again.

  6. I use to feel out of place, but now that I’ve found my place your words make so much sense! 🙂

  7. grassroots08 says:

    There is a name for writers who don’t ever get out. They are hermits. Kidding of course. I think we all could get better with time and practice as we share even with strangers. When I gave myself the first nudge to speak at retirement homes, it soon became an addiction; and the money wasn’t BAD EITHER.

    Also this is a place where I can be a stand up comedian at times, and where the audience becomes my dressing room. Cheers, Don :-}

  8. Great tips for writing and for life! Many of these misconceptions prevented me from becoming a writer earlier in life. When experience taught me otherwise, the writer inside emerged. Stories now flow quite effortlessly. Once again, you have perfectly captured the writer’s paradigm.

  9. dana mentink says:

    It always makes me laugh when people assume I write about myself. I’m a third grade teacher so I’m not usually fleeing felons and speed skating in the Olympics! 🙂

  10. As always, a great post! I absolutely love the picture you have of the feather pen! I’m a big fan of fine writing instruments.

    • Thank you. I’m glad you like it. I am a fan of writing implements too. I don’t know how many people noticed the caption under the pen picture in the post, What is Successful wriitng where I admitted to have a problem with collecting pens. 🙂

  11. Excellent post, Peter. Someone called me today to ask if I’d do a reading of my new book at the local library – she started the conversation by saying that she knew I was shy and wouldn’t like to get out and speak in public. Granted, I am more comfortable not having to do such things, but by the same token I look forward to the chance to share my work. And since I’ve never met this woman, I have no idea where she got her information. I need to send her to your excellent post.

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"A writer looks at a screen or piece of paper like a canvas. They see a country unexplored, a picture unpainted, a tale not told. They dare to venture into the barren land, explore its dark corners, and paint its pictures. Then they unveil the epic with the goal of compelling people to visit their newly discovered territory.”
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