Writing Autistic – Writing Autism When You’re Autistic

So, StoryBundle had a writing bundle back in November.

Ever since I cancelled my KU subscription, I’ve been hurting for ebooks, so, while I mostly bought the bundle for the more business-oriented books, I’ve been making my way through the writing advice ones. I also check out writing advice blogs from time to time, but they can be hit-or-miss.

And, yeah, I know this is a writing advice blog, but I’m working in a specific niche here, and I’m mostly acting as an educational tool about autism in general through a writing-oriented lens.

So most writing advice boils down to three categories:

  1. Solid advice that’s either universal or where the writer acknowledges that different things will work for different people.
  2. Advice that works for them, but is by no means universal.
  3. Advice that is so bad my eyeballs bleed.

I would just like to say right now, if a piece of advice seems off to you, check the credentials of the person giving it.

I’m giving advice on how to write autistic characters. I am autistic and I have written well-received autistic characters, so you know that I have at least some idea of what I’m talking about.

This whole post was prompted by a piece of advice I saw from someone who had no business giving writing advice.

The advice was basically, “If you belong to a minority group, you shouldn’t write main characters from that group.”

Just…

What?!

Their reasoning was that you may struggle to be “objective”.

Objectivity is a nice idea, but it’s ultimately a fallacy. People from the privileged groups don’t think of their bias as bias because it’s so accepted. It’s just the way things are, so they don’t have to think critically about it.

They think they’re objective because, from their perspective, everyone else shares their bias.

They also said that you may end up writing a character who is a bit of a self-insert.

I will admit that that probably becomes a bit of an added risk.

(But the endless novels about abled, white, cishet men with English degrees thinking of having affairs aren’t self-insert fantasies at all. /sarcasm)

Here’s the secret with self-insert – it’s okay.

No, really, it is.

The problem with self-insert is that you might be a little more likely to fall into the same trap as any other writer – you might make your main character too perfect.

If you end up writing a character similar to you, there is the risk of you avoiding writing them with flaws. After all, no one likes to focus on their own flaws.

That can be honestly tough. If you’re going to draw on your own traits, you need to draw on both the good and bad.

I’m not going to pretend that that’s an easy line to walk.

The thing is, though, as long as you’re conscious of not falling into that trap, it’s perfectly possible.

Autistic people can write autistic characters.

I’m proof of that.

So don’t let any old asshole tell you otherwise.

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