What The World Thinks Of Writers, Apparently

I, on a lark, was looking for synonyms or slang terms for writer.

Above was what I found at Thesaurus.com:

That doesn’t speak well for what the world thinks of writers.

(Never mind the faintly racist implication of putting “Gypsy” there.)

It adds up, I suppose. I’ve encountered the attitude quite frequently that we’re a bunch of wifty slugabeds, high from huffing our own delusional dreams — writer as synonymous with lacking good judgment.

Interesting, if a little troubling.

And, of course, at the core of it, a nugget of truth. I’ve met many-a-writer who are basically undisciplined wannabe’s — dilettantes, as the list points out — who claim to be this thing but never really do enough to support that claim. Talk about writing in the same way one might talk about moving to the islands, or building a boat, or learning how to macrame the cat. (Is that a thing?)

They talk about it. But never seem to write.

Not much to say here except:

Hey, let’s go out and prove ‘em wrong.

Fuck talking. Start writing.

23 comments

  • Eek! I wonder what comes up for blogger. Checking now. Oh. Apparently that is not a word at all. I don’t really mind that company. But then I try to get off the couch and onto the computer and make words into sentences. It’s a fine line between perception and judgemental-ism (sure there is a better word).

  • In my culture, the word bohemian has a more positive connotation or at least that’s how a lot of people have used it, including myself. We generally associate it with being highly artistic rather than lazy dilettantes, but I can see how it can be a troubling synonym. Why writers of all art types? Why not singers, musicians and sculptors?

  • Interesting perspective, but what is it that makes a writer? Is it enough to write, or do you also have to actually publish your work somewhere, anywhere?

  • Writers are like the bad boyfriends that are all talk and no action. Many writers are too busy reading blogs on how to be productive and cut down on distractions (you don’t like the idea of “writer’s block” any more than I do so we won’t even go there). They read all this shit and listen to other people give them answers to problems they already know how to solve on their own. But, since they’re not actually writing, they don’t even realize this. If they have a desire to get their book written then they’ll get the damn book written. And then another writer cuts in: “But–” Nope. No excuses. Most writers are full of them. Excuses are becoming as much of an art as writing is. Kind of a shame, really.

  • Some of these aren’t precisely… negative? I mean, “artist” isn’t negative at all. Actually, being a nonconformist isn’t a bad thing, either — it’s just, why does “writer” equal that? Why is writing an act of iconoclasty? Is it? It’s a curious spread of synonyms.

    — c.

  • Nothing demands as much discipline in my life as writing. Period.

    Stay safe tonight. I hope it’s not as bad as it looks. My whole family and my friends are in eastern PA.

  • I just, finally, started writing again, in large part thanks to some of the more profanity-laden “Get off your ass and write!” posts on this site. It’s been slow going at first, kind of like cleaning out a horribly infected wound. I’m dragging out some words each day, and it gets a little easier each day. I suspect I’d do more if I hadn’t sent my laptop to Portugal, but it’s doing the very important job of keeping my fiancee company while it hangs out there. I’ll just have to learn to deal with the shitty on-screen keyboard of my Kindle Fire when I’m at my day job, until I can afford to get an iPad and keyboard or the equivalent.

    Interestingly, Thesaurus.com has other direct connotations if you ask it about the word ‘writer’ – it defines it as a person who composes with language, and lists the following synonyms: author, biographer, columnist, contributor, correspondent, critic, dramatist, editor, essayist, freelancer, ghostwriter, journalist, newspaper person, novelist, person of letters, poet, reporter, screenwriter, scribbler, scribe, scripter, stenographer, stringer, and wordsmith. A lot of neutral and positive associations attached to it. Sadly, no sign of penmonkey.

    Anyhow – thanks for the kick to the ass that got me writing again. With any luck, I can get this short story polished and published soon.

  • Maybe writing is like having sex. It’s something you do more than a definition of who you are. Many people enjoy sex, not very many who make a living at it. We think about it, read about it, watch it; but few do it as much as they would like. And who walks around telling people, “I’m a sexer.”?

    I know some welders. But there is so much more to them than welding. They have interests and families and hobbies and all that other life stuff. They also care very little about what people think of their profession, unlike teachers who tend to wear it on their sleeve.

    Thinking about yourself (myself) as a writer could be a hangover from college, when people studied the ‘great’ writers and is a symptom of too much education and not enough actualization.

    Most business people are glorified talkers, but they don’t tell themselves, “I’m a talker.”

    I don’t know. It’s awful early. What am I even doing here?

  • Chuck, I think there is a bit of reaching going on here. If the entry is “bohemian” none of these synonyms seem out of place, or negative — even gypsy.

    Of course, they are a lot more interesting than the ones that actually show up on the site for “writer.”

    The problem isn’t with various synonyms or slang for writer — hell, we call all call ourselves whatever we want – we’re writers, right?

    The problem is with Thesaurus.com. See, that’s what you get when you ask the interwebs questions – you can get some stoopid answers.

  • From http://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/writer:

    writer – noun

    A person who creates a written work

    Synonyms: litterateur (or litt{eacute}rateur), pen, penman, scribe, scrivener, writer

    Related Words: auteur, belletrist (also belle-lettrist), stylist, wordsmith; coauthor, coscenarist, cowriter; ghostwriter, hack, hatchet man, scribbler, wordmonger; biographer, hagiographer; autobiographer, memoirist, memorialist; fabulist, fictioneer, fictionist, novelist, romancer, storyteller; essayist, pamphleteer, satirist; dramatist, playwright, scenarist, screenwriter, scriptwriter; prosaist, prosateur, proser; bard, poet, rhymer, versifier; blogger, columnist, journalist, newspaperman, paragrapher, reporter, sportswriter

  • I’m happy I’m not the all talk not write type. Thought I was until multiple people said, “Every time I see you, you’re always writing or reading. Don’t you do anything else?” Looked at my Twitter feed, a lot about writing. I’m beginning to think I need a life outside of the written word.

    Anyway, I don’t tell most people I’m I writer because I don’t like explaining that I’m actually productive to their scrunched up, judgmental faces. “Underpaid government bowling alley attendant,” is so much more fun.

  • Why is “gypsy” racist, but “bohemian” not? Don’t they both reference people who conform to a stereotype based on people who lived a certain way in a certain place?

  • What a wonderful term. (Perhaps people are confusing it with ‘bohemoth’? In terms of percieving it as negative?)

    The gypsy reference is because of their Romani origns (Bohemia). It brings to mind words like: nonconfirmist, nomadic, free, spirited, unshackled…

    From the AU Macquarie dictionary – defintion of ‘bohemian':
    1. a person with artistic or intellectual tendencies or pretensions who lives and acts without regard for conventional rules of behaviour: *I don’t approve of the bohemians: they have dangerous political views and are loose in their morals. –miles franklin, 1946.
    2. a Romani person.
    3. relating to or characteristic of bohemians. [from Bohemia, in medieval times thought of as the original home of the Romani people]

    Until I earn the right to call myself a writer, I certainly won’t hesitate to call myself a bohemian.

  • The whole Writer That Talks problem is why I stay away from writing communties online. Most are filled chiefly with people vaugely groping for “inspiration” or “motivation” or whatever, and look if it’s not the hobby for you it’s not the hobby for you. And also, yes, it’s a goddamned hobby until you quit your day job.

  • Well, I don’t know. Definitions are always traps in some way. But I know this: my dad’s boat will float. He built it by hand, using plans, hand tools, and fiberglass and epoxy. And those swimming pool foam floaty stick things. He died before painting or sailing it, but it’s waterproof and holds weight. Does that help define a boat? Does the definition of a boat then help define writing?

    Heck. I don’t know….

  • I think we writer are more insane then anything else. Just listen to us talk about “characters speaking to us, demending to be written.” Delusional.
    Fiction writters are especially nutty. Fantasy, horror and SF writters are off the wall.
    I had an unborn child turn into a vampire and claw it’s way out of it’s mother while eating her.
    What kind of a sick puppy comes up with those sorts of ideas?
    It could’ve been worse though – we could’ve been bohemians.

  • Simply categorizing the writer as simply simeone who is all talk and no write is stereotypical. The truth is, some writers get all their stuff done, some don’t. I mean we all cannot be like the “Patterson Machine”, shelling out 10+ books in a year. However we all can’t be expected to meet our expectations we set for ourselves, either. You can’t change that. There will always be a sizeable population of writers who can’t seem to get anything done, and a population of people who go above and beyond, and yet a third set who fall in the middle.

    However, it does seem that these so called “lazy” writers or writers who have “writer’s block” do seem to have the loudest voices. But to characterize writers as a whole that way is like judging every muslim off of the actions of the extremsts, who unfortunately seem to have the loudest voices today due to a number of factors.

  • From the blog’s perspective, everyone assumes that we’re talking about fiction writers.

    Let me inform you that it’s just as bad for a lot of writers in the Journalistic and Advertising craft.

    * Anyone with initials behind their name (Ph.D, M.D, MBA, Esq., etc.) wants to remind you that they “can write” too. They just are too busy doing real work to get around to it.
    * As an ad freelancer: I’ve seen people get sticker shock for quoting $10/hr to write Ad copy. And then those clients are the worst. The guys willing to pay twice as much think you’re a genius. Neither client offers enough volume of work to live on.
    * In numerous Marketing Dept., writers are at the bottom of the totem pole.

    I think it’s part of the anti-intellectual/anti-creative bent in American culture. If you’re not making money or a product, then you are only a support system for the “real” doers in the economy.

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