The Autistic Writer: Unconventional Perspectives

Though in this series I have explored certain challenges Autism presents to writing, I’ve never suggested that being on the Spectrum should preclude one from being a writer. (For obvious reasons.)

If nothing else, I hope this Autistic Writer series stands as a testament that there is nothing intrinsic to ASD that makes one de facto poor at writing.

Nor, would I say it being Autistic an automatic advantage to the writing life across the board.

There are however certain Autism characteristics that may at times give writers a leg up under particular circumstances.

I can think of no greater example than our unconventional perspectives on both individual people, and society as a whole.

Quality writing of any kind, but fiction more so, requires leaving the oft-talked about proverbial box. Actions, interaction, and reactions for someone on the Spectrum (assuming they are not heavily masked) diverge from long standing and deeply entrenched expectations of human civilization. More questions arise in us, more doubts set in. Multiple myriad angles of perception yield unconventional viewpoints on nearly every aspect of being human.

It is these less recognized, often flat out rejected takes on existence that allow for the Autistic author to envision wholly alternative worlds and people, and to communicate same to readers.

That may sound like science fiction or a fantasy trope alone. It isn’t. It applies to all fiction. For any editor or agent will tell you that a conventional story is empowered by an unconventional telling. Be that in language, setting, format, vocabulary, the otherwise run of the mill tale is more readable, (not to mention more marketable) if something about it inspires readers to say, “I hadn’t thought of doing it that way.”

By default, we on the Autistic Spectrum are in many cases the square peg. Some of us learn to contort ourselves into passing as circular peg as needed in order to make it through our day, or our life. Others get forcibly slammed into the wrong hole by an overzealous conformist wielding a hammer. When totally unencumbered, however, those on the Spectrum begin by being askew from the norm; we have less distance to travel to the unusual because we tend to live there.

No, of course you don’t need to be Autistic to write fiction than obliterates norms. Still, with determination and practice, those of us on the Spectrum wishing to be an author can, for a change, have the edge over others.

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