The Writer: A Study in Clichés

We avoid clichés in our writing—or we should—but it’s essentially fact that as a collective, writers are basically tropes. We’re either team tea or team coffee, and we have animal sidekicks that we prefer over people (Hello, fellow introverts!). Here are four of my favorite writer clichés that may or may not be verified by science.

1. We All Drink Fancy Tea

Loose leaf all the way—none of that bagged crap. Joking aside, I do love sipping tea while I cry over how to fix my plot holes. Somehow the fragrant steam released from my Urdnot Wrex mug makes the slog less awful. The miniature sauna in my face makes it possible to pretend like revisions are relaxing and not like going to the dentist.

Photo by Peter Olexa on

No doubt, tea is an acquired taste. I remember my first sip—it smelled nice, but tasted like dirty water. But I wanted a warm drink to clutch while studying the Krebs Cycle, so I sprinkled some sugar and powered through.

Why not coffee for this writer? I literally feel like a chihuahua after drinking it, minus the incontrollable bladder, although frequent bathroom breaks are a must. I also have to add so much sweetener to make it palatable that I might as well drink the hazelnut creamer straight from the bottle.

Regardless, now I drink tea every morning—although I’ve started drinking a full glass of water while it cools off enough for my pathetic tastebuds, and that’s made a huge difference in how I feel throughout the day. My Breville tea kettle is among my top five favorite possessions, right up there around my computer glasses and my cordless headphones. It has different temperatures for different types of tea and has a timer. No more bitter green tea for this writer.

2. We Prefer Animals to People

It’s an unwritten law that we have to own cats, right? While this might not be entirely accurate, I think it would be interesting to have a poll on how many of us writers actually do have pets. Even more interesting would be to make a pie chart of what kinds of animals—cats, dogs, reptiles, fish.

I love pie charts.

We have two corgis, Wrex and Sevro, and not going to lie, they’re adorable. One of my favorite things is when they butt my hands away from my keyboard so they can put their head in my lap. Don’t ask me if I’d rather spend the day socializing or hanging out with my dogs. We already know the answer.

3. We’re All Artistic and Eloquent

Of course we all dress impeccably because we’re artists, and a matching beret and cardigan set is practically a requirement.

Ha. I’m one of those people that’s happy to have a uniform every day, so I don’t have to decide which pair of sweatpants and running shirt to wear. I definitely don’t have an arsenal of cool pencil skirts and nice sweaters, but maybe I should look into buying some so I can be more official.

Brooklyn 99

I pride myself that my prose is polished and elegant, but in real life I sound like Jake Peralta in an elevator. It’s ok. I’m used to it.

4. We All Want to Quit Our Day Jobs

It’s every author’s dream to earn a giant advance, stroll into their boss’s office, and quit. Now unfettered by the 9 to 5, this free author can spend their days in a café drinking their Earl Grey while typing away on their keyboard.

I’m on the fence on this one. On one hand, I am utterly exhausted after working all day, and my brain’s idea of a beautifully constructed sentence is “I don’t wanna—let’s just order pizza.” It would be lovely to dedicate my day to writing instead of stressing out about schedules.

But I’m sure any full-time author would tell us that it’s not all crafting prose and sunshine. If writing is a prime source of income, it becomes your job. If I spent all of my time managing my social media, marketing, conducting interviews, I don’t know that I’d have any more creativity in my well for writing. I’d probably want to chuck my laptop across the room, though, which is probably not conducive to writing.

And those are some of my favorite writer tropes. I’d love to hear your favorites, or if you’d like to contribute to my unofficial theory about writers and pets!

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