Top 5 Ways Being a Writer is Like Being an Actor (and It’s Probably Not What You Think)
By A.K.R. Scott
Most creative types, regardless of medium, have a few things in common. There’s that need to mould ideas into something tangible and the desire to share it with others. There’s the imposter syndrome that dogs even the best and most successful Creatives. And then there are the feels.
I’ve been a part of many creative cultures, and I’ve come to realize the similarities between them go deeper than you’d think. Take writers and actors. Yes, both create art out of words and characters, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the day-to-day work of the creative.
So, here are the top 5 ways being a writer is like being an actor.
1) Reader = Casting Director
This can go one of two ways…
A: Like casting directors, readers know exactly what they’re looking for. And just because your book doesn’t get cast in the next TBR pile doesn’t mean it’s no good. It means it wasn’t right for that reader at that moment. More than likely, it’ll wind up in another reader’s TBR pile tomorrow. Just like there’s always another acting gig, there’s always another reader.
B: Like casting directors, readers only have a general idea of what they’re looking for. Yep, sometimes they’re scrolling through Amazon waiting for the right book to jump out at them. They’ll know it when they see it. It won’t be like everything else. Hey, it just may be your book.
2) Knowing your “type” is key.
If an actor is truly great, he/she can play any role.
Ok, let me stop you right there. That’s a great sentiment and all, but let’s get real. Do you think actor Danny Trejo wastes his time answering casting notices for “handsome boy-next-door?” No way. But if you need a criminal/villain type, he’s your guy. In fact, he’s made a career of it.
It’s the same with writers. Sure, it would be nice if our writing was beloved by all, but that’s not reality. At least in this instance, writers have the upper hand. We have more control over our niche than actors. So find where writing what you love meets writing what you’re good at, and focus there. Trying to write all things for all people only leads to frustration and disappointment.
3) Comparison-itis is a stealthy and crafty foe.
Don’t do it. Whoever you’re comparing yourself to right now, stop. Just stop. Your gifts are not their gifts. Everyone’s creative journey is different, so direct comparison is pointless. And I’m not only talking about comparing yourself to writers you perceive as better than you. I have seen actors so full of pride in their own work they allow their frustration and anger at being passed over for someone they consider “less-than” to become their focus. It’s ugly and counterproductive.
Keep plugging along and doing your work. The only writer you should be comparing yourself to is the one you were a year ago.
4) Haters gonna hate.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a troll in possession of a good book will still leave a scathing review.
Okay, so I’m letting my Austen-fan flag fly here, but the sentiment is true across all genres. I’m not going to waste time discussing the possible motives of these people, but wherever you find Creatives being vulnerable enough to put their work into the world, you’ll find the haters slicing open that vulnerability and pouring vinegar on it.
Does it hurt? Yes.
Is it about you? No. It’s about the hater. It’s a reflection of their own issues and insecurities, not your work. Just like with #3, the best thing to do is keep writing.
(There is, of course, a difference between hate and constructive criticism. Wisdom and discernment—and humility—are essential when deciding who’s feedback to take seriously.)
5) People not “in the biz” don’t fully understand what you do.
The actor’s friends aren’t there as they go through the mundane tasks, scouring casting notices, mailing headshots, going to yet another audition which, odds are, will end in yet another rejection. Neither do the writer’s friends truly understand what it’s like when the butt hits the chair and they ride that rollercoaster of brimming with inspiration and staring into space waiting for the ideas to settle in the right places. Or the precise story crafting, or the waiting game of manuscript submissions.
You’ve seen the meme. It probably looked something like this:
Why is this funny? Because humor is grounded in truth.
But, hey, here’s one of the great things about Realm Makers. No matter where you are in your writing journey, there’s probably a friend here who understands exactly what you do.
So keep it up, you fantastic writer, you.
A.K.R. Scott is a musician, actor, and lover of the written word. This native South Carolinian spent her childhood devouring books, whether tucked away in her bedroom, up a tree, or hidden under the dinner table. Now, she lives in Texas with her husband, two daughters, one rascally dog, and an ever-expanding library. Her favorite question is, “What if…?”, and she is the author of The Music Maker Series.