Opinion: Writers Deserve More Respect

A few days ago, Twitter did what it does best, and invented a hashtag that stormed through the millions of interconnected devices and into our homes, offices, and study spaces. The #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter hashtag (which then turned into half a dozen other tags) was typical Twitter fare – part sarcasm, part venting, part sincerity, part honest truth.

Even writing this post, the hashtag was still churning over new tweets, and had several well-written and intelligent articles such as this one from the Huffington Post.

Many of the tweets focused on some of the ignorant and hurtful things that non-writers say to us – such as the off-hand comments based on loosely-written internet articles about the supposed plight of the written word:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsWhile others were directed at the more-condescending-than-helpful friends/family/strangers we all (unfortunately) know:

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And of course, the most dreaded (and hated) sentence that all writers have to endure, the sheer cringe-inducing opinion that, apparently, everyone would be a writer if only they didn’t have such important lives:

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The hashtag wasn’t just an excuse for writers to spend more time on Twitter, but an opportunity for us to vent and hopefully shed light on some of the prejudice and assumptions leveled against us.

Writing is Hard, and We Know It

I’m the first to admit that writers are a quirky bunch. We have our own groups, our own community, our own lingo. We hijack social media systems to create our own interconnected web of friends (such as #Bookstagram on Twitter, which now has over 1.3 million posts of books).

We have a unique passion, and we work in a difficult industry, one where success is often-sought and little-received. It is, at times, a depressing and difficult path to lead – and we all understand that. We are often our greatest critic, and that’s before our manuscripts have even gone out to beta readers or critique partners for the real feedback.

Every writer knows exactly what they’re in for – we don’t need other people to beat us down, because we do that to ourselves every day.

Writing is a hard business. It requires a lot of time, many late nights, a roller coast of emotions, and hopefully – just maybe – a very faint light at the end of a very long, and dark tunnel. We work hard for our passion. We dedicate endless hours to reading books on the art of writing, to discussing and bettering ourselves; we are willing to improve.

We aren’t asking for our books to be published – we’re willing to make sacrifices and improve ourselves to reach our goal.

Anywhere else in life, that kind of dedication would be admired and championed. Many writers start blogging and writing in their very early teens, and continue through into their twenties; I dabbled with writing during my teens, but it took me a few years of a university degree in an unrelated field to realize what my true passion and purpose in life was.

Respect Starts with Saying ‘We Believe In You’

Writers aren’t afforded the same respect though. We aren’t placed in the same basket of ‘self-improvement’ heroes, idolized for our efforts and bravery in the face of incredibly unlikely odds; instead, we face criticism from friends, family and society.

Many people do have supporting friends and families. But it’s very rare to find anyone – even loved ones – who don’t have their private reservations, their own hidden suspicions that it’s merely a ‘hobby’, something to be done ‘on the side.’

For the vast majority of writers, our passion is considered a ‘diversion’ – just check the hashtag and you’ll see that opinion expressed countless times over. It’s as though writing is for other people, not for us, but for people with some magical gift or ‘someone they know’ (another terrible piece of ‘advice’ that gets bandied around).

But on my post last week, I mentioned how authors – many, like Veronica Roth, are just in their early twenties – are moving into the rich lists; and that’s not even mentioning J.K. Rowling (despite some concerns about her wealth, she’s still impossibly rich).

Sure, every writer won’t become a King or a Rowling, but there are literally millions of authors in the world with thousands of loyal fans, living quite a decent life and pursuing their love of writing books.

With dedication and persistence, any writer can become a published author. The sad fact is – many writers quit long before they can get anywhere serious, all from a lack of confidence.

So, What’s It All About Then?

This all circles back to one point, again and again.

Amateur writers aren’t treated with respect.

Sure, once you become wealthy and have films made from your books, people will praise you, but for the fourteen-year-old high-school student who wants to pursue writing, or for the eighteen-year-old university student who is considering switching their degree to focus on creative writing, there’s a tough battle ahead.

Twitter responded to itself with #TenThingsToSayToAWriter, highlighting all of the positive things that writers need to hear. We aren’t asking for hourly text messages of encouragement but simply respect and support for what we believe in.

All any writer really wants is acknowledgement and support – we want people to respect the difficulty and the sacrifices of writing, and to believe in us.

Writing isn’t a hobby, but a passion – a commitment to ourselves and to this community we love so much. We’re attempting to become better people, to produce a piece of fiction that might be read around the world.

It’s not merely something we do, but something we are, and that makes it one of the most challenging – and most rewarding – of all pursuits in life.

How do you feel about being a writer? Do you think writers need to be respected more? What ways can writers help gain the recognition and support they need?

Leave a comment below, and thank you for reading!

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Jay Eldred says:

    I’m working on the writing thing.

    Like

    1. Brett Michael Orr says:

      It’s slow going sometimes, but we all move at different speeds. It’s a continual process of self-improvement and one day you’ll be writing books confidently – the important thing is to *never* give up. Always keep that goal in your heart, never lose your passion, and you’ll get there!

      Thanks so much for reading!

      Like

  2. Precious says:

    Well said. A lot of people see writing as that thing that anyone could do if they just had “more time,” which is true–to an extent. But like any profession, it also requires a lot of dedication (which most people will never have unless they’re truly passionate about it). Great post!

    Like

    1. Brett Michael Orr says:

      Thanks Precious! Yes it’s heartbreaking how often people criticize our chosen profession – too many people have been raised on Hollywood cliches and tropes about writers, and don’t regard it as an actual career choice, but merely something that happens as the product of luck.

      I certainly have the passion, and I think a lot of other writers out there do too – we all know what we want, and we won’t stop until we achieve it.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  3. Sunny Smith says:

    Great post! I totally agree that writers don’t receive the same respect that other professions do. It’s almost like people don’t consider you a writer if you don’t have something published. All that work and practice before you have anything published is totally ignored by most people.

    Like

    1. Brett Michael Orr says:

      Exactly. The gap between ‘writer’ and ‘author’ seems like a very large one at times, but that doesn’t mean writers don’t deserve the same level of respect. Every author was once a writer who faced all of this, and we have to persevere through it – but we shouldn’t have to.

      Thanks for reading! ^_^

      Like

  4. I’m not a writer but I have the utmost respect for you all, your article was beautifully written. I dislike how your writing gets viewed as a cute little hobby, it’s beyond condescending.

    That sort of mentality is also so harmful to amateur writers’ confidence. I actually see many writers in my line of work (I’m an optometrist) – and a lot of them are almost embarassed to state that it’s their profession because ‘I don’t get paid much for it’. Writing isn’t the exclusive domain of NYT best selling authors (and who’s even to say you won’t get there one day!) and I wish you all got the respect you deserve.

    Anyway I’m not a writer so I will never understand all your hard work fully, so I hope I didn’t inadvertently offend by anything in my comment! Fantastic post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brett Michael Orr says:

      Thank you so much for your comment Aentee, it’s very insightful.

      Writing being viewed as a hobby is one of the must horrible things we have to face, and it comes with a whole roster of judgement and preconceived ideas; people often don’t realize how intensive it is, and there’s nothing more cringe worthy than suffering through the ‘what did you do this weekend’ question, where it’s impossible to explain to people just how important and time consuming writing is.

      It’s terrible that so many writers are ashamed of their profession. We should embrace it, but we’re so afraid of what people might think that we’d rather lie or dodge the question entirely, when we should be *proud* that we’re embarking on this journey.

      Thank you so much for comment, and for sharing the post. ^_^

      Like

  5. Rae Oestreich says:

    All I have to say about this post, brett? It’s perfect. You said it all and you said it absolutely eloquently ❤

    Like

    1. Brett Michael Orr says:

      Thanks so much Rae! I’m so glad you liked the post! ❤

      Like

  6. YES I LOVE THIS POST AND TOTALLY AGREE. I think there’s so much negativity around just saying the phrase “I’m a writer.” I’ve had a LOT of support from my family (adfsjsfakld I have an incredible family) but whenever someone outside-the-family would ask me what career I was pursuing..I totally didn’t want to say “writer.” I was embarrassed?? AND THAT’S SO WRONG. It isn’t any less of a career. People don’t even scorn at professional photographers or graphic designers. Writing is art. And we should get the same respect as other artists.

    Like

    1. Brett Michael Orr says:

      Thank you Cait! There is a lot of negativity surrounding ‘writers’, and mostly I think it’s attributed to pre-conceived ideas that people have about writers (at least in my experience), that we all turn out to be failures, or drunks, or possibly both.

      You’re right too – graphic designers, photographers etc all are regarded highly, whereas writers/novelists have to face stigma and fight to prove themselves; this is wrong, and it needs to change. And hopefully if writers make enough noise and throw enough light on this issue, we can usher that change in.
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

      Like

  7. Heather says:

    I like it when writing is a respected profession, but sometimes I am a little dubious about the fame that comes with it… Like, we’re starting to treat authors like celebrities, and so while it’s one thing to give writers respect and that which they deserve, I feel like it’s also hard because people sometimes make writers out to be more than they should be… I guess. Probably not an opinion most people would like, but it is mine.

    That being said, I still like all the things you put in this post. Writers really do need more encouragement than they’re getting right now, and I hope they get it, soon!

    Like

    1. Brett Michael Orr says:

      Personally I think that writers deserve their fame – we put sportstars on high pedestals simply for kicking a ball; magazines sell because of one celebrity; movie directors are showered with trophies. Writers are just another figure in the creative arts, and I think they deserve to be held in the same regard as the other creatives – but that’s a different issue, I think.
      Thank you so much for reading my post though, and I do hope that writers get more encouragement. Hopefully writers like us can help drive that change in this new age; we’re in the right position to do it, too.
      Thank you!

      Like

  8. This post is so on point! Totally agree with it! Writing is HARD, I’m not actually a writer so I can’t really say much but I can only imagine all the tons and tons of hard work that goes into it, so I really do respect people who are writers! Great post! 😀

    Like

    1. Brett Michael Orr says:

      Hello Kristin, I don’t think I’ve seen you on my blog before. There *is* a ton of hard work for writing, it’s a really tough thing to do, but ultimately very rewarding, even with the down days and social challenges.
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

      Like

  9. Theo says:

    A wonderful article. I related to it, as I’m only fourteen too. I’ve not even finished writing my first book and ever since I’ve told my elders that I want to write as a profession, everyone looks down on me and says that writing is only a hobby, something you do part time. My grandparents are all very unsupportive, suggesting other ideas and saying I should give up this idea of such a risky job and that is of little value addition. My father has supported me though, and this blog has renewed my will.

    Like

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