Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Don't Be A Stereotype

I often say that stereotypes exist for a reason. They are caricatures. They are archetypes. But they are not real. Stereotypes are based on traits that are real (lots of Asians are great at math), but no human being is literally a walking stereotype. Still, it seems like some people are trying to be.

I hate stereotypes for one primary reason: they're boring and obnoxious. And the more people embody stereotypes, the more boring and obnoxious those people are to me. I hate self-absorbed, fashion-obsessed, ditzy chicks. I hate self-absorbed, sports-obsessed misogynistic men.

I hate writers who are afraid of writing. I saw an episode of The Simpsons recently, in which Lisa set out to be a writer, and went through every stereotypical distraction: cleaning, playing computer/puzzle games, going to a coffee shop, etc., and all the while never getting beyond having written "Chapter 1" on a blank page.

As a cartoon, it was pretty amusing, but every time I meet a writer who does those things in real life, all I can say is, "Stop being such a stereotype!"

Whenever you're afraid, do the opposite of your instinct. Afraid of writing something boring? Write about how awesome your cat is. Afraid of offending people? Write about sex and racism. Afraid it won't be perfect? Mash your hands on the keyboard twenty times and then do a stream of consciousness of literally every single thought that comes to you while you were mashing your hands and then while doing the stream of consciousness, all while never looking at the computer screen to be tempted to revise as you write.

Do anything to avoid being a stereotypical writer (especially the writer-who-doesn't-write). Even if it means being the exact opposite of it. Eventually, that will become a cliche, at which point you will move on to something bold and new. Keep doing it until you're comfortable, and then you won't have anything to worry about in that realm anymore.

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