Writers Demonizing: One of the Most Unfortunate Habits You Can Acquire

by @thewritermama on June 24, 2012 · 2 comments

I had a lovely time at the Chuckanut Writer’s Conference this weekend.

But I also encountered, en masse, a very unfortunate habit that writers have and that is demonizing what you think you’re not.

Here’s how demonizing works.

  • We think commercial success of our writing is selling out…so we demonize it.
  • We think independent bookstores are the best…so we demonize other ways of selling books.
  • We think our political views are superior…so we demonize other political views.

We think our quirky, introverted attitudes are more safe than risking sharing ourselves in a straightforward way with others (otherwise known as putting yourself and your work out there), so we demonize it. We imply that sharing your work makes you less of an “artist.”

You don’t have to be an “artist.” In fact, I would argue that trying to be an artist is going get in the way of creating your best work.

The obsessive compulsion to be “An Artist” can lead to massive self-consciousness, a bad habit of posturing, and a penchant for grandstanding.

Go for purity instead. Find your truth and speak that. Avoid bandwagons of any kind.

At one point when I was speaking on a panel, I said that I don’t understand the necessity of creating “us vs them” thinking in the context that is supposed to be about supporting the creative process.

Going along with the crowd won’t make you a more creative thinker. But it will likely make you a less creative thinker. And less open. And more fearful and paranoid.

And eventually you will take less risks and that will reinforce the perspective of the suffering artist that some writers seem to love so well.

I’ll have more to say about how to not fall into this trap next time. I promised to recap some advice and share some links, and so I will.

In the meantime, I will leave you with this question:

When a person says or implies that another person or organization or company is evil, is that true, or is there actually something evil about implying that something other than yourself is evil in order to elevate yourself?

Is there a name for needing to bring someone else down in order to make yourself feel better?

Can you feel good about yourself and your work without this falling into unfortunate habit?

I hope so.

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