Writing is the best job! Sure, a lot of us aren’t making big money, but we do get a lot of perks that regular people just don’t get. Many of us get to work from home and avoid most of the corporate grind. If you write fiction, you get to spend all day living inside your head and making things up. Stick with it long enough and you’ll probably meet some really nice and helpful people in the form of other writers, bookstore owners, librarians, reviewers, publishers, and agents.
But one of the best perks of being a writer is that you can get away with things that other people simply cannot. It’s like being a superhero. Being a writer means that other people will excuse and overlook a lot of things that they might otherwise notice and comment upon in others. Here are ten things that I’ve found I can get away with, but which my non-writer friends cannot.
- Dressing far, far, far off-trend. I don’t feel pressure to keep my wardrobe, hairstyle, or accessories “on-trend.” Writers can get away with wearing outdated fashions because dressing badly is just another one of our creative quirks. Everyone knows we’re too busy being creative geniuses to worry about petty things like fashion trends.
- Introversion. Writing is one of the few professions where introversion is rewarded. Most of the world rewards the extroverts. The loudest voice wins. However, writing is one of the few ways that the quiet people can be heard. Also, if you’re a writer, people don’t pressure you to be more extroverted. They all know that writers are introverts, so they won’t beg you to come out with them, or look at you funny when you say you’ve never been to a rock concert or raging frat party.
- Talking about your genius. Writers are the only people I know who are encouraged, sometimes begged, to talk about their genius, work habits, and imagination. (Okay, maybe some animators and film directors have this superpower, too.) I think this is because many people secretly want to be writers so they all want the “inside scoop” from someone who’s living the dream. Tell people you’re an engineer and they’ll say, “That’s nice,” and move on. Tell them you’re a writer and you’ll be allowed to talk about your work for hours. And if you work it right and get a speaking gig, they’ll pay you to talk about your work for hours.
- Eavesdropping. Writers can totally get away with eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. It’s all research, right? If you get caught, you just say, “Gosh, I’m sorry, but you just sounded so much like the main character in my novel that I couldn’t help but listen in.” They’ll be flattered rather than offended.
- Glasses. Okay, so glasses are a bit cooler in the general population now than they were when I started wearing them in junior high. Still, though, writers are the only people I know who aren’t encouraged to get Lasik, or at least contacts. Glasses are part of our uniform! We’re expected to be blind from all those hours spent writing in dark cellars by candlelight.
- Lack of exercise. No one expects writers to exercise. (You should, though. It’s just good for you.) We’re expected to sit all day at our desks churning out words, or under a tree somewhere, dreaming up ideas. (Don’t tell non-writers that a lot of times the best ideas come during a workout because your brain shuts off and your subconscious works for a while. That would blow our mystique.)
- Social awkwardness. If you’re not good in social situations, writing is the career for you. People will assume that any social errors are simply a byproduct of the fact that you are such a genius that you hardly ever leave your house. We’re only supposed to know how to write, not how to talk to actual people.
- Weird behavior. Almost any weird thing that a writer does can be excused as “research.” If you spontaneously decide to take up skydiving or competitive eating, call it research and no one will care. If you suddenly go berserk, quit your day job, and buy a Ferrari, it won’t be a mid-life crisis, it will be research for a novel about a character going through a mid-life crisis. You can get away with almost anything as a writer.
- Drinking too much. Writers throughout history have all been alcoholics. If you drown your rejection sorrows in booze, no one will care. Ideas aren’t coming to you so you’re drinking in the afternoon while you watch soaps? No problem, you’re just a writer. No one’s going to call AA on you.
- Talking to yourself. When regular people talk to themselves, the white coats turn up to take them away. (Although these days it’s hard to tell who’s talking to themselves versus talking hands-free on the phone.) Anyway, a writer can talk to themselves and, in fact, have whole conversations with multiple people and it’s just “working out a few plot points” not, “bat poop crazy.”
In case you can’t tell, the above list is all in fun. I find it amusing that people have so many strange stereotypes about writers so I thought I’d just poke a bit of fun at all those assumptions. Really, we’re no different from other professionals. Well, except for the eavesdropping thing. We all totally do that, so be careful what you say in public because a writer might be listening.
(Photo courtesy of pippalou)