Do you know how to identify a writer? September 8, 2015 – Posted in: Blog, Inspiration – Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Do you really know how a writer looks like? Do you think anyone knows that? Most people have so many expectations and stereotypes that they completely miss the chance of meeting a great writer in their life. Here are some good examples of weird jobs that some writers had before becoming famous:

Chuck Palahniuk – Dishwasher
Ken Kesey – Janitor in a mental hospital
Stephen King – Janitor in a high school
Jack London – Oyster pirate
Charles Dickens – Shoe factory worker

Many friends have asked me why I visit Thailand so much. They can’t understand why I like this poor country so much. Do you know that this is the world’s capital for entrepreneurs and it’s full of writers everywhere you go? In this century, most writers and entrepreneurs aren’t willing to work in factories, clean floors or wash dishes anymore. They deliberately choose to live isolated from the world in caravans, small houses and poor countries. Why poor countries? Because they are cheap, and that allows you to focus your mind entirely in your writing, and not in managing money or in keeping a job. In fact, another favorite country for writers is India. But writers are explorers too. And as the economy shifts and rapidly changes, writers don’t fight the flow like the majority, but instead ride this wave like a surfer, in order to enjoy (not pursue) their dream of writing. You see, for most writers, writing isn’t something you do, but something you feel, it’s who you are. And the only way to keep being who you are is by traveling to places that allow it. Latvia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Spain, are other areas in the planet that writers, especially European writers, are choosing. As for the North Americans and Canadians, Mexico and Chile tend to be their favorite options.

Do you think you will visit one of these countries and immediately identify which individuals are writers? Think again. They dress poorly, eat poorly and live a very zen lifestyle. And they look like any other normal person you could meet. My point is, writers have always appeared to be like common people. And you would never guess it despite what you may think about them. Charles Dickens worked in a factory and Stephen King was a high school janitor. Imagine that! But I’ve also found writers that are farmers in Nigeria and yoga teachers in China.

It’s not because a person has a stupid job usually attributed to uneducated people that he can’t be a writer. I’ve also noticed that many writers are teachers, journalists and psychologists, but from what I know, it’s because these professions actually train your brain to create a book, while practicing your thinking about issues related to common life, apart from the obvious spare time that comes with these jobs and that you can barely find anywhere else. Many writers of children’s books, for example, get their stories inspired from children they work with. And I suspect that the trend in books about sex for women is related to the sexual frustration most women have. It’s a channel for their fantasies and an escape for a fulfilling but very boring life. I think sometimes writers do the opposite of what their life is to feel better. If you are a janitor, people aren’t nice to you, they think you are stupid, and you may become depressed. Writing adventures you would like to have is a very good self-therapy. As a teacher, psychologist or journalist, it’s easy to get inspired by your experiences with others. The author of Harry Potter was a single mother, so it’s very normal that she might have been inspired by her daughter to write. In fact, her daughter was very likely the best critic of her work. I’m sure she would imagine things with the daughter first before writing them down, and that’s what made Harry Potter so exciting for kids. It matches the way they think and what they want.

Maybe you and many other people have a concept of what a writer should be and look like. There are common traits to good writers, good actors and good musicians, but that’s all that I’ve seen. One of the most common, I dare to say, is the ability to be an independent thinker. They want to be free to think what they want and imagine whatever they feel, even if in order to accomplish that they are forced to isolate themselves from the world. They are sensitive and passionate humans. They don’t work to enjoy life like most people do but enjoy life and work because they want to keep enjoying it. I’ve never met a good writer that writes books because he wants to have a book published, become famous or rich. It might happen, but that’s not how good writing works. And that’s why, every time someone asks me how to write a book, I ask them this question: Why do you think you must write a book? They never know the answer and that’s why they struggle. And until the answer is found, if it ever is, you won’t write anything good, if you ever actually finish something. The problem tends to be the inverse. They think they must write a book because of how they imagine writers. What if I told you that most people think that writers are crazy (not different), arrogant (not smart) and boring (not interesting)? It’s one thing to read a book, and another thing to talk to a writer, and I’ve met many book lovers that lose interest in certain books after meeting the writer in person. But I’ve also met many people that delay writing a book because they think their job and money are more important, and they aren’t willing to make any kind of sacrifice to achieve this goal.

Definitely, writing books isn’t for anyone and respect is barely found when that’s what you do for a living. And that’s what makes writers unique. It’s not that they are different, although they are, in one very meaningful thing: they are free thinkers. They don’t live inside their bodies or for what people think of them. And I bet many lose their creative skills when focusing on these two things. It’s actually ironic that so many blogs suggest that writers should focus in marketing their work on social media and talk to their readers. But then, these same blogs, are full of suggestions about how to be creative. The two things are related, because if you focus on what you want to say and imagine, then you can’t spend time analyzing what others think of you and your work. It’s contradictory. I’ve seen many famous blogs dedicated to writers, and can assure you that, despite their good intentions, they’re full of mistakes and wrong guidance. But there’s never an effort without a counter-effort in life, and even writers will have to eventually deal with their choices and challenges like anyone else. It’s not a competition and you can’t fake it or plan it. It’s all about being. Who you are is what defines you as a writer, although a book is just a tool. And fortunately for us, we writers don’t need to write with a pen or a feather anymore, or keep a bunch of papers until a kind publisher allows us to go public with our work. Many things have changed in the latest years and we must change as well. There is as much joy in writing a book as there is in meeting and talking to a writer and I hope one day you can understand this, either you choose or not to write a book, and either you are or not a writer yourself.


Daniel Marques

Author of “How to Write, Publish & Promote Your Own Book”

How to write