How the Writing Community has Hurt Me
The above is this exact blog but in vlog format.
Before I start this, I gotta start with sharing that this is very much inspired by Shaelin Bishop’s vlog on AuthorTube Tea. I wanted to use many of the same talking points but share a point of view from a teenage perspective.
Toxic Notions of Productivity
This is the one that destroyed me the worse. So often in this community, there is a such an unehalthy notion of productivity that has destroyed me and other writers. There’s so many expectations. If one isn’t producing high-quality content at a high output, one isn’t a serious writer and won’t get far in their career.
This has hurt me especially as a teen writer. I was told that I had to write 40 hours a week when I’m in high school. I’m in clubs and sports. I have chores. I have friends and a mental health to maintain. On top of that, writing isn’t the only thing that brings me joy. I love taking care of plants and living animals. I love to volunteer.
In early 2018 was when I really focused on my writing to an extent where it hurt my grades, and I learned that it is so easy to throw all of yourself into something. It is so easy to just work and work and to have that be your entire life. One year later, I’ve learned to appreciate someone who can balance their life. It’s hard and I’ve learned to respect that a lot more than constantly working.
I think this has originated not just in the #grind culture of the millineal generation, which are the majority on authortube. But it also has grown thanks to the stereotype that writers don’t really work. Outsiders think that writing is easy or not a real job. And to combat that, us writers have worked to prove how much we strive for success. But in doing so, we have hurt other people in this community that we are trying to help. By proving to outsiders that we are dilligent people, we are also making our colleagues feel ashamed. It’s a double edged sword and I don’t know how else to fix it but to balance. That’s a lot easier said than done though.
There Are Children Present
This community is fantastic in a way that ever person has a voice, including teen writers. In my experience, teen writers are praised for their work. When I mention I’m a teen writer, I’m more than invited into the community. However, I do think there is a problem where it concerns teenagers in this community not being treated like children.
I’m seventeen years old. I’ve been in this community since I was fifteen. I’ve found that being treated like just another author is a double edged sword. At one point, I’m more than happy to be accepted into a community of such amazing adults who act as role models for me. It’s gratifying to talk to adults and be treated as an adult, as childish as it sounds. It’s nice to hear adults take our passions seriously.
But I’ve found that it can sometimes go a bit too far. An adult asking me if I could critique their romance book, when I’m not even eighteen. I’m especially cautious when making friends in this community. One of the first questions I ask when I first message someone is what is their age, because I have read enough horror stories of young, teenage girls being taken advantage of. In this community, I’m more thankful that nothing of that severity has taken place at least to my knowledge.
But I do feel like this is an especially sensitive ennvironment. There are a lot of vulnerable teens in this community. And the fact that so many adults treat us the same they would another adult isn’t right. There is definitely dignity and liberty in talking to a teenager that you respect. But to talk openly about not safe for work topics or bloody violence is just not acceptable. I am an older teen now, but I wasn’t when I first joined the community.
This is a point I think I and other teen writers are going to disagree on. So I’d love to hear other teens’ point of view.
No Grains of Salt
Hi, general writing community. I’m looking at you. Not just the teen writers.
I’ve found that a lot of people don’t know how to take advice. I’m not talking about in general but with a narrow focus on the writing community. People either take writing advice at face value or immediately dismiss everything an invididual has said.
What I find difficult to wrap my head around is that it isn’t just teenagers doing this. I could understand teenagers doing this. I did it myself when I was fifteen. But there are actual adults who don’t know how to take advice and I am shook, because adults are the ones that are the role models for us.
It seems like a revolutionary statement to say that it’s okay to hear advice and say aloud, I don’t think that resonates with me. But the other advice it really does speak to me. I think this is more contributed to cancel culture rather than the writing community, but it definitely is affecting us. The thought that if one person says something that doesn’t sit well, all of their advice is irrevelent. And I don’t think that’s at all true and that it actually creates fear of mistepping because forgiveness does not come easily.
Writing is Creative and Messy
The writing community has really set up an expectation on what it means to be a good writer. This relates to the first point. There is such a huge expectation for people to be plotters. There needs to be a precise plan and if someone is not producing a plentitude of work in a short amount of time, their process is flawed. And I think it’s offensive.
I’m not necessarily one to speak. I’m quite lucky to say that plotting my novels does work for me. And when I do want to go off script and be a plantser for a while, I’ve never felt ashamed of it. I found freedom in it. But I definitely have witnessed the subtle shaming writers like me, who are plotters, shame people who are pantsers.
I hate the term pantser. It just reminds me of middle school when people would pants others. Apparently it comes from the term ‘flying from the seat of your pants’. It’s all odd idioms.
Anyway, it’s crucial to remember that writing is a creative process. And creativity is messy. Trying to polish up writing will never work.
It Feels Exclusionary
Oof. I’m excited to not just step on people’s toes but completely smash them. I cannot be the only one who has felt alienated from this community because of the color of my skin. I might be the first one to talk about it though at least from what I’ve seen.
Most people on authortube are white, female Americans who range from ages mid-twenties through early thirties. These are women who write YA fantasy and sci-fi. Now, please let me reiterate that I am making huge generalizations. This doesn’t apply to everyone obviously but I am trying to share my frustrations as a minority. I hope you are able to see where I am coming from and not trying to be outwardly offensive or am out for blood. I just want to express my feelings and maybe help other minorities who feel this way.
I definitely fit into quite a few of those descriptions I’ve listed. I am a female American who is currently writing fantasy. I am also very Filipino and a teenager. Guys aren’t really my thing. And I definitely do feel like the odd one out sometimes.
Is it the creators’ fault or the audiences’ fault that the more popular authortubers’ come from a place of privilege? Don’t get me wrong. I respect writers like Vivien Reis, Jenna Moreci, Hannah Lee Kidder, and Megan Tennant. They have earned their place and they recognize the privilege they have. But that doesn’t take away from the feelings that people like me feel.
Self Publishing Bias
Before I start this, please know that I am not trying to speak down on self-publishing. Self-publishing in the recent years have defnitely gained a lot more respect and rightfully so. Self-publishers work hard and deserve the praise they receive.
Self-publishing is seen as the default in this community. It’s incredibly surprising. Other writing communities in my local city and just in general where people meet face to face like in writing progams, it’s the complete opposite.
I’ve often seen self-publishing as accessible for all. It’s an easy solution since anybody can self-publish. Very true. But there is a difference from self-publishing something on the fly and self-publishing to make a finished, polished product that will be bought by the masses.
Self-publishing a novel is not easy by any means. Some self-publishers spend thousands of dollars from their own pocket to get their work to a means of a final product. Self-publishing is expensive. It is so expensive. I’ve never self-published but when I’ve done the math. I came up easily to $3,000. Upwards to $5,000. That’s a lot. And the belief that self-publishing is accessible to all is unrealistic and rude to those who can’t afford it.
I’ve seen writers who self-published share the pros and cons of traditional publishing, which I still find a bit odd. There’s a bias. Traditional publishing would be perfect if you are unable to afford or save up for self-publishing. Traditional publishing would be perfect if you are not ready to do all this work that self-publishing requires. It implies that one is not able or willing to put all this man hours or money into their book.
I don’t blame them. It’s a subtle bias. It’s incredibly subtle. Everyone has biases. But this community is unaware of them and without the knowledge of that bias, we’re unable to move pass it into a healthier and more accepting environment.
Can’t relate to this, but hopefully I will in the future. I don’t make any money off my writing. I don’t need to. I’m a seventeen year old girl who lives in a middle-upper class family. I’m very aware of my privilege. I can write just for the fun of it right now and just work on improving my skills and learn. Just know that I’m talking about a topic that I make no money off of, and with that comes ignorance. Take it with a grain of salt.
Nowadays, having an authortube channel is now seen as something to brand. And I’ll be honest, that’s why I first started this channel. Fifteen year old me was a boss babe. Allow me to cringe. But I don’t think I’m the only one.
Shaelin Bishop, in her video said that she started her channel when she was about my age just because she wanted to talk about writing. And I think our differing point of view and similarities are interesting. I started writing when I was writing novels when I was twelve. I also sold bad comic books when I was ten but. I had no one when I was twelve. Everyday for hours, I’d just write for fun. And it was fun.
Now that I am writing with a future career in mind, everything has changed. I am now tailoring my major to compliment my dream job. I am now aware that people are judging me. And thankfully they are all people I trust because I am a small channel with a few peers who regularly like and comment. But if I do gain an audience, that terrifies me to think of what that can do to me.
There’s no point to this. Just that branding and creativity combining is scary. I haven’t experienced it yet but it does scare me.
The Writing Co. is Intimidating
I joined teh community when I was fifteen and I never really felt intimidated by the other writers. The writing community jsut really fit my personality well. But for other newcomers, I can’t imagine how scary it might’ve been for them. New writers approaching the community for a place of belonging hearing of all the expectations.
To be a serious writer, one has to have x, y, and z. I remember feeling overwhelmed but never to the extent of not wanting to be apart of the community. I can imagine someone being intimidated. And surely someone like that exists but is unable to speak out.
To Be a Writer is to be Unhealthy
Let’s talk about the writer stereotypes we impose on ourselves. This is getting real meta. There’s a lot of unhealthy steoryptes that come with being writer, albeit some of them are true. A lot of writers have anxiety. A lot of writers are depressed. This doesn’t just apply to writers but for creatives in general, and there’s a reson it exists.
But it doesn’t have to. And I hate the idea that to be a writer, one has to be unhealthy. It is potentitally holding people from getting the help they need. And it could end up really hurting people. Someone can be a writer and be mentally healthy. Can’t speak from experience but like…it is possible and I’d hate for the stereotypes to alienate someone let alone hurt someone.
I’d hope that with talking about these problems with the writing community, we are able to acknowledge the problem and work to fix it. I want this community to be a healthier and happier place for young writers.