I have heard people (jealous haters) accuse writers (me included) of being narcissistic. Not in the sense that we lack empathy, can’t keep meaningful relationships, or that we’re using others for our own gain. No, rather we’re often labeled narcissistic for talking about ourselves, our books, and our accomplishments a lot, for being selfish with our time and our focus, or for reacting poorly (whether in private or publicly) to criticism. These truly are “symptoms” of someone who is narcissistic.
Most writers will vehemently disagree that they’re narcissistic.
I contend that writers are, in the very least, mildly narcissistic for several reasons:
- It does take a healthy smattering of ego for a writer to put his/her work in front of a publisher or a reader.
- It takes some ego to market one’s self and constantly blog or talk about one’s self. IMHO, it’s only unhealthy if you don’t get bored with talking about yourself. I don’t know about any of my writer friends out there, but I do find myself getting TIRED of talking about my writing and myself. It’s irritating. Sadly marketing oneself is a requirement if you’re a writer whether you like it or not. So, when you friend a writer on FB – expect a lot of self-talk. Don’t hate the player – hate the game.
- It does take being a little bit selfish to take time for yourself to write. I sometimes sacrifice time with my husband to write and that’s terribly selfish of me. I feel horribly guilty about it at times. But it must be done.
- We do enjoy having our work admired. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be publishing it or trying to get it published. Just ask yourself one question – would you write if you knew no one would ever read it? Okay, yeah, I’d probably keep journals for my magickal work and for dreams or thoughts, but I likely wouldn’t be writing novels. So in that respect – we like attention – whether it be for our work or ourselves.
- No writer likes to have their creation (i.e. book) ripped apart by critics. So naturally we might be more sensitive to criticism than others. Of course if we’re still writing after the critics have ripped us a new one – that’s because of ego and most published writers who go on to continue publishing have big egos (not necessarily in a bad way – that’s perception). Some just hide it better than others. Without that ego a writer would NEVER survive the critics and would likely never go on to publish anything else.
Most writers I know can also be manic. They’ll go through phases where they’re unproductive, then they’ll be very productive. It goes in cycles. I occasionally have manic creative episodes like this.
Does this mean we’re all mentally ill? No, of course not. A little mania and a little narcissism go a long way. I think that’s just the nature of a creative mind. Artists, photographers, actors and even musicians seem to share these traits, too. Though admittedly some are more histrionic than others. Just my .02 cents.