I have always been a writer but I have not always been a part of the writing community. Perhaps it was a lack of desire to get to know strangers or maybe the fact that I lived in a remote part of the US where socializing was an hour drive minimum. No matter the reason it took me until last year to really dive in and start poking around the online social group of writers. It has been an eye-opening journey, to say the least.
As I have started to scour the web, poke at communities, post my blog and just socialize with the plethora of writers out there, I have begun to see a trend of certain personalities popping up. Because of my incredibly self-aware nature, I took note of these personalities and began to write down exactly why they bothered me and how I could avoid becoming like them. Don’t get me wrong, all of these ‘types’ that I have outlined are things that I myself have done at one point or another. I’m sure to some degree all of us have fallen into the pit of these ‘sins’ in our time as a writer. What matters, I believe, is being aware of the impact they have and how to help those that pick up these bad habits.
The Self-Spammer – This person just cannot help talking about themselves. They have to post about their recent blog addition, their recent book, recent conversation or anything else that would bring them publicity all over the web. A healthy dose of self promotion is fine, but when all of your posts, tweets, online or in person communication is focused on me, myself and I, people become frustrated and turned off. We want to feel connected to a writer, not bullied by one. I mean, come on people. We all have a SPAM blocker for heaven’s sake. Don’t be one.
The Bot – This is a different creature than the Self-Spammer. They tend to exist exclusively online and absolutely love reposting, retweeting or just regurgitating anything they find. When I say anything, I mean ANYTHING remotely close to the topic of writing is put through their machine like a bot. It is so hard to actually know if these kind of accounts are real people. A lot of the time I chalk it up to some kind of algorithm that picks out certain keywords and just reposts. This has got to be one of the fastest ways I find myself unfollowing someone.
The Contrary Canary – You ever have that awkward conversation with someone where everything you say they must have some kind of contradiction or criticism no matter how petty? It’s one of the most exhausting things I have ever had to deal with myself. Here are you, attempting to be productive and creative and you have this contrary person who just feeds off of attacking you for no reason besides the fact that they find it ‘entertaining’. What’s worse is they usually have no actual merit or constructive criticism to offer, just contradiction and cruelty. If you are this person, you need to take a hard look at yourself and wonder WHY you thrive off of other peoples misery and maybe seek medical attention, just saying.
The Center of the Universe – This kind of personality tends to happen on accident. Unfortunately, because it is an ignorant type of person who falls into this trend, it is near impossible to handle them without having a full-blown fight or possibly causing a mental breakdown. It’s like walking on eggshells. These people are not self-aware enough to realize that they must always talk about themselves or steer a conversation towards them. They have no idea how to relate or have a real conversation so their contribution tends to be ‘Well I did this and this’ on the subject in a vague way. Some people call them ‘Conversation Hijackers’. If you find yourself doing this, stop a moment and ask a question to the person(s) you are conversing with and steer the conversation back towards others. It works, trust me.
The Snob – This type of toxic creature exists in EVERY art form. That one person that you dread talking to because all they will do is talk down to you or tell you how you are doing it wrong. They have a solution for everything and believe themselves to be self-proclaimed experts on the art that they are involved in. Don’t get me wrong, wanting to teach others is great, but looking down your nose in superiority is far from productive. We should all be humble enough as humans to realize we are flawed and stay away from snobbery.
The Deluded – I struggle with this one because I understand that as a writer you need to build up some kind of confidence in your work and progress. My problem is when you get to the point that your confidence becomes so large it is an inflated ego that blinds you from any kind of criticism. It’s not that you look down on others it’s that you cannot admit your own flaws. I think all of us have run into this in our creative history at one point or another. We all have to work hard to be self-aware.
The Tit for Tat – This one is a bit rarer or at least harder to spot. The reality is, we should be paid for or traded for our work. There is a point and time where we have to take pride and make sure that we are compensated. This personality is when a person takes it to the extreme and leaves behind their community mind and replaces it with a ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality. They become someone you dread to work with because it seems as if they are always working an angle or looking for their cut. Unfortunately what happens a lot is we give in to these demanding people and find ourselves being taken advantage of. So be careful not to be this person or to allow this type of person to victimize you.
As you read this I’m sure you can think of a few people you know who fall into these categories. Perhaps you look at my 7 sinners and realize you are one of those. That’s okay too! There is time to change and improve yourself along with your interaction within the community. These 7 are just the ones I have run into the most, there are probably plenty more out there with detrimental influence. The whole purpose of this post is to bring attention to the toxic behaviors we can all fall into if we’re not careful. We should all be self-aware and keep in mind our audience and community.
Do you agree with our list of Sinners/Sins? Have you encountered others? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!