The Trouble with Being a Writer

Most people who aren’t accountants don’t think they are. Most people who aren’t architects don’t think they are. In fact, the same can be said of most professions. Somehow though, people who are not writers often think they are.

Perhaps this is something people in all creative professions undergo. Yet I can’t help but think writers are at a bit more of a disadvantage. This is not to say amateur Photoshop users do not produce images that scar graphic designers. Or that tone deaf people do not offend singers (and everyone with the ability to hear). Writers suffer because there is no shortage of people who believe literacy makes them writers.


There are people who subscribe to the belief that you can do anything you put your mind to. I am not against people developing their skills and talents. I am not against people being able to create their own websites to say what is on their mind. I am however against copywriters and content writers being forced to use the lines such as ‘break your rules, break your fast’ when working on a campaign targeting religious individuals.

Sure, sometimes we enjoy the challenge of tastefully incorporating lines such as ‘Be a coffee drinker. Espresso yourself’, or working with briefs created with the aid of Google Translate asking you to produce an ad for shoe polish massages. In fact, we are also amused by the account executives who give us these briefs.

“Why didn’t you write that it was a premium location?”
“That place makes Harlem look like paradise”
“Yeah, I would never go there either”

Okay, sometimes we are a little less than amused.

“Add this line to the text”
“What does it mean?”
“I don’t know but let’s use it”
“We are targeting average Joes. If nobody in this room understands, the customer probably won’t either”
“It’s okay if the customer doesn’t understand”

And sometimes we are dumbfounded.

“Make sure to mention that customers can keep the cake packaging”
“Have you ever bought cake and returned the box it came in?”
“You never know. Maybe some cake stores want it back”

Many writers enjoy being amused and dumbfounded because it is an excellent way to cure writer’s block. Virtually every writer knows what it is like to have a dozen half-written pieces, none of which are quite saying what you want them to. They know that moment when inspiration suddenly strikes. They also know that moment when their deadline preceded inspiration and they have to somehow make something out of nothing.

There are few things a writer considers worse than writer’s block.

1) Your and you’re being used interchangeably
2) Atrocious grammar
3) Stories without plots
4) People guilty of the above who insist that the writer obey them