1. Snoopingaround
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    Snoopingaround Banned

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    Traits and Characteristics of the Writer as a Group

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Snoopingaround, Aug 11, 2014.

    I have noticed some things about writers that set us apart, or rather can serve to mark us out from the general population. There are some personality traits and habits that seem more common, more prevalent, for example. It seems to me that writers tend to be at least slightly more intelligent than average. They also tend to be more reflective and have a stronger tendency to introspect. I think writers often tend to overanalyze things as well, and hesitate and doubt and rethink before taking action. I was curious to see what observations and insights that other writers may have picked up on as well, regarding ourselves. In addition, I have noticed there are some similarities with other types, such as scientists, but some quirky differences too, like in mindset and personality types and such. This is speaking in general terms of course, not that a writer must be more self-involved mentally, but traits like that do seem to be more common amongst us.
     
  2. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    All very true about me. Except for the "slightly" part. ;)

    Also: my gut says that writers are more prone to mood disorders and substance addictions than the average person.
     
  3. friendly_meese
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    friendly_meese Member

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    My experience with writers in groups is that we are extremely socially-oriented, which leads groups consisting entirely of writers to be even more retrograde than groups in general. You can probably guess that I'm not a fan of groups of any kind as human groups of people who are perfectly adult and reasonable either alone or one-on-one, become like junior high lunchrooms full of 12-year-olds when the number of people in the group rises to three. In writer groups I have experienced a greater than average tendency to emphasize social things and deprecate technical and creative things, so that groups of writers almost always become exclusive cliques with extreme prejudice against outsiders and "newbies." A newcomer to a group of writers is very often forced to keep his head down and his mouth shut and serve a social apprenticeship as if he were a self-made rags-to-riches millionaire first arriving at a country club full of hereditary gentry. Moreover, if writers in a group do any socializing whatsoever, then the focus on writing totally disappears and the group becomes purely social, with elaborate rules of conduct that are never spelled out and have nothing to do with the art or craft of writing. This is especially true in my own country of Canada. Success in Canadian literature has never had any connection to how good a writer you are, but always with how well you schmooze with the right people and kiss the right butts. Canadian English literature academia is even more extreme on that point, as there are certain socially prescribed views you must express as a student, often involving unreserved praise for the required Can-Lit authors as well as Shakespeare, if you are to have any hope of graduating with your B.A. in English, let alone your M.F. A.

    On the positive side, in a forum such as this one, there is far less tendency toward a junior high lunchroom full of 12-year-olds than there was in the bad old days of Usenet. I still tremble in horror at my years on alt.fiction.original, which nearly permanently destroyed me as a writer because of all the socially-oriented bullcrap that completely eclipsed writing there. There was in particular one member who called herself Nativelaw, who never posted a single creative work of her own but just did tawdry and sleazy politicking in order to make sure the politically correct views were expressed. I wish her only the worst. What a molten horror and destructive force that newsgroup was!
     
  4. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    The only similarities I have noticed among writers (and myself) is buckets of ego and narcissism. I don't mean that in a negative way, and I think a bit of each is necessary.

    Above average intelligence? Ha. Ha.

    Hahahaha.

    Having a well-oiled language centre in one's skull doesn't mean they're smart, it means they're good at word-based seduction. I think there are plenty of smart writers (that statement doesn't mean much coming from me:crazy:), and I like to believe everyone here is smart. However, one's words alone are hardly a judge of their intellect. If that was all it took, an IQ test would solely involve an essay.

    I think skilled writers are good at convincing you that they are smart. That's why I like to use the word "seduction."
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014
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  5. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess it depends on what you call a writer, someone that writes professionally or someone who writes down their stories/ideas. I myself am not a writer in terms of professional or even serious/intermediate/novice standards, i simply write down my ideas and stuff that i would like to see, stuff that isn't available or that i cant find.

    I think all it takes is a creative inquisitive mind, and a certain (average) level of literacy.
     
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  6. edamame
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    edamame Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think most writers are introverts. We need the time to think and write, so it makes perfect sense. Not sure about intelligence but I think we are more sensitive in general.
     
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  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    One thing I noticed about writers is that we are opinionated. We have opinions on practically everything, and we usually feel like sharing them with the world. Intelligence is a tricky one. Usually, writers have high verbal intelligence, but that doesn't mean they necesserily have high IQ. Some pretty average or even below average intelligence people have high verbal intelligence . I agree though, that writers tend to be, on average, more reflective and prone to living in their heads, either fantasising or overthinking or analysing, depending on the type. But most are reasonably cerebral people.

    As far as sociability, some people just get on with others, as in, their friends are useful and good to them, they enjoy group activities, they solicit help of others easily, they feel rejuvenated and replenished by group activities, they thrive in teamwork situations etc. And then, you have those with quite the opposite experiences. They might be popular but find that they give much more than they get, or they need solitude to balance themselves out, or they end up exhausted doing everyone's work in a team environment etc. I don't think it's just writers though, you can see these two types in all walks of life.

    I know a few scientists and I associate that type with being a bit nerdy, pedantic, self-important (like they are saving the planet with their latest research into some zebra fish organelle), intellectually somewhat vain and humourless in a debate. But boy, can they party! And they tend to have wide-ranging interests.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  8. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    They are saving the world.
     
  9. BookLover
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    Okay, I had to laugh when I first read this. Good heartedly. :) You see, I used to be a member of a social anxiety forum, and almost once a month someone made a post exactly like this! "People with social anxiety are smarter than the average person. We're more introverted. We're this and this and this and this." And when I first started out on that forum, I was totally ready to jump on that bandwagon. "Yeah, we're smarter. Woo!" But after being a member of that forum for a very long time, having read hundreds (thousands?) of threads, I realized that wasn't true. People with social anxiety have all different personalities and intelligence levels. Some of them aren't even introverts, just extroverts trapped in a fear bubble.

    So reading this reminded me of that. I don't know if writers are more this or that. Maybe you're right, and certain traits are more common for writers. I don't know. I just know it's not usually a good idea to generalize any group of people.
     
  10. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    So I've heard :dry: ;)
     
  11. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find this very interesting, because it has not been my experience, in my limited experience in real life writer's groups. The one I've lucked into is very excited to welcome newbies to the group, and they get great feedback and encouragement on our critique nights. It is undeniably social, though. I think part of that is due to the members finding a place where everyone has an interest in writing, when for many of the members, they have no one in their social set who understands writing, or why someone would want to write, or has any concept of any part of the writing business.

    Obviously, this is anecdotal evidence, so I have no idea whether Meese's experience is more common than mine. I can only base it on the one writer's group I have joined and the one local writing class I took.
     
  12. PensiveQuill
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    Like all artists I think writers can be prone to conceits and jealousy. I don't mean that in a negative sense but if one didn't think their writing was promising and an artform to be jealously guarded then they probably wouldn't be drawn to the art. There must always be a lure to do something that potentially could pay nothing at all and consume a lot of time. A more pragmatic person would just be an accountant to keep money coming in instead and enjoy that new car.

    I'm a social person but I'm picky about the company I keep, and as always a journey into my milieu is one that I must take alone. There has to be that sense of striking out on your own and adventure to dedicate a fine day to a computer keyboard instead of an afternoon BBQ in the company of friends.

    My early jealousy of published authors manifested alternatively as hero worhip and sheer envy. I enjoyed the stories they wove but I hated them for being where I wanted to be. Luckily I grew out of that (although never really completely) and came to appreciate someone's work for what it could be for me. A marker on my own journey.

    Will I ever be a paid career writer? I don't know. Truly I don't. There is a fair amount of strategy to writing that i am still without, there is a fair amount of my time devoted to a paying job. And my motivation also waxes and wanes like the moon. I am both enamoured by writing and sometimes disdainful of it as an impossible dream. And then when I do have time to sit down all day to write I find that a difficult task and I focus instead on how I'm wasting a good day, missing out on winter sun and the opportunity to go seek adventure for the reality of sweating blood over a keyboard.
     
  13. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    YES. Likewise, it is a weird feeling to go from being inspired by someone ("it really is possible to accomplish something that amazing") to being terrified by that same person ("shit, I have to compete against someone that amazing?").
     
  14. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    All this reminded me of a quote from JK Rowling (as R. Galbraith) latest book
    I can totally see this to be the case in her experience, because the A-list authors are like any other highly competitive group. To give a medical analogy (this is me 'writing what I know', see how tedious that can get?) at Uni, loads of close friendships are forged, we are all in it together, a veritable battle-field of challenges, perils and endurance. Graduate, start working, pass your first few jobs as a junior and watch heads roll, knives disappear in backs and the Shakespearian-level dramas at Clinical Governance meetings for the rest of your career. It's the 'too many crocodiles in a small pond' syndrome.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  15. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    Try aviation then, caesars last moments are replayed endlessly in the closed curtain galleys of aircraft.
     
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  16. Snoopingaround
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    Snoopingaround Banned

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    In addition to all the traits and insights into writers' common personality types mentioned here, I noticed one glaring omission. Writers, or at least the people on this forum, are unusually nice. It may be just folks on this forum actually, but I noticed an unusually nice mood going on here, with extra pleasantries and support and encouragement and sweet things said and the like. I find it actually somewhat weird and unnerving times. I wonder why people on here seem so friendly? Does the moderator edit out rude comments or what?
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
  17. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why should people be mean, which I take is the opposite of nice? It's fine to be opinionated, but I wager most people prefer not to spend time, even internet time, with rude individuals.

    Sometimes we delete aggressive and abusive comments. It really depends on the post, the thread, and the members involved whether this is done or not.
     
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  18. Snoopingaround
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    Snoopingaround Banned

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    Because being nice all the time is boring. Sometimes I enjoy rudeness, from myself or especially others.
     
  19. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't speak for others but I was really tired of all the inane acting-out you usually get on the internet, trolls, people arguing just for the sake of it, all this many members experienced elsewhere, including me, and I found it tiresome and a waste of time. I was only looking for an oasis, a place where people behave as they would in real life ie. not like asshats just because they are anonymous, where I can enjoy company of other writers. And this place set out to provide that kind of environment. It may not be for everybody, and there's plenty of unpleasantness on here at times, but it's meaningful rather than just people winding each other up for fun, whenever they please, which I think is immature and characteristic of internet behaviour. To be honest, I love so much about the internet, but I miss the days when people had to consider consequences before they discharged their base impulses on the world without a filter.
     
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  20. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Snoopingaround

    I wouldn't say members here (in general) are particularly nice...wait for the right threads when there's a bit of blood ...members turn into sharks.

    What is strange about WF as a community is an almost, dare I say, over emphasis on being PC. Writers, I would have thought, should have varying, even strange, views on things, but the mindset here seems to be impressively homogeneous.
     
  21. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm curious about this. Do you mean writers on WF appear particularly pro-PC?

    'Cause, you know, political correctness is like trying to pick up a turd by the clean end, as they say.
     
  22. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, you don't think so?
     
  23. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    :blech:
     
  24. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I've not noticed any similarities among writers as a type of person other than the fact they write words on a page. Some writers can be amazingly bright, some are idiots like me. Some are neat-freaks, some are slobs like me. Some are proactive, some are reactive.

    Artists never fit into a 'type', and good thing too.
     
  25. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I escaped two super PC writing forums before arriving here. I was like 'fuck me, I can curse? I can use the term 'gun porn' without disturbing so many members the mods are drowning in reports? I can talk about sex -- use that terrible 3-letter word in public -- without being branded a total perv and a Rosemary West wannabe (sex is evil, if you have it, you must be a child molester).

    I think we have a lot of... sensitive (for want of a better word) members here who show respect towards other writers. They put themselves into others' shoes and act accordingly. They don't act like ignorant gits and think rudeness is the same as fighting political correctness. Maybe it is a common trait among writers, I don't know. If it is, it's a good thing, as long as it doesn't limit them as writers in the sense that they don't soften up bad stuff in their writing so as to make it less offensive. That's just my opinion.

    If there's a positive atmosphere, I get this feeling people are trying to understand each other and see the world through their eyes -- a useful skill for a writer. I don't mean accepting every point-of-view, I mean trying to at least undestand where the other is coming from. To some it may seem like over-niceness, political correctness, or namby-pambyness, to others that kind of atmoshphere e.g. provides a safe place where they don't have to worry about getting torn to shreds and shat on if they dare voice their opinion on something.
     
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