Odds are you have probably met someone who writes. Whether is be a classmate, friend, aunt, uncle, parent -- someone in your life has taken the time to sit down and write something at some point. It's no secret that I'm a writer. In fact, it's something I'm really proud of. But I am not one to immediately bring the topic into a conversation because I know -- I know -- what will follow once I admit my hobby.
Writers are a strange breed. We are constantly calculating, thinking, imagining... So before you strike up a conversation with a writer, you should really know what to and what not to say. Here are some of those things that you should avoid.
1. Wow, you must have a lot of free time.
Yes, between the constant plotting, drafting, editing, re-writing, eventual work/research to get published, and other daily to-dos my schedule is just overflowing with free time!
2. I wish I had time to write.
You don't have time. You make time. When you're a writer, you need to prioritize your time so that novel/script/screenplay gets finished all while balancing whatever else life throws at you.
3. Oh, that assignment should be easy for you! You love to write!
Yes, this is true. I love to write, but not about the history of paper clips. It doesn't matter if it's 1 page or 100 pages. If the writer is not interested, it will not make the assignment any easier than it would be for the other students.
4. Want to write/edit my paper for me?
This question used to annoy me until I started charging people. Just because I do this kind of stuff for fun doesn't mean I want to do your work. I have my own papers to write/edit alongside whatever else I'm writing or doing in my scarce free time.
5. So what's your book about?
If most writers are like me, they won't want to talk about their book yet. It's too personal and they may be self-conscious about the idea until they get confirmation from some outside source that it is actually a good idea. And if your writer friend says they have an idea, they probably can't fully answer that question to begin with. Until all the prewriting and drafting is done, the answer to what the book is about is most likely nonexistent.
6. You should make me one of your characters!
Actually, I already have those planned out, but thanks for the offer. And unless you are someone that has had a very profound effect on my life -- either good or bad -- odds are you won't make it into the story.
7. I have an idea for your next book!
Awesome! So you're going to work on the plot development, character development, and any extra research too, right? You know, that fun stuff that comes after you get the general idea. No? Alright, I'll just stick to my ideas then.
8. I don't read.
This is like telling a baker you don't like bread. This is like telling a personal trainer you don't like exercise. This is like telling a teacher you don't like learning. You don't tell a writer you don't like reading.
9. Where have you been published?
Unless self-publishing counts...
Yeah, the odds of being published are very slim. Most writers write because they love it and can only hope that some publishing company loves the story just as much. But there is always that deep, dark fear that no one will like the story as much as the writer, so try not to bring up the whole publishing thing if possible.
10. Do you hope it will become a best-seller?
No, I want this project that I've been working on for years to be a failure.
11. What do you actually do for a living?
It's no secret that not all writers can be the next J.K. Rowling. But c'mon -- have a little more faith! As a self-published author, I'm certainly not rolling in the money, so I've decided to pursue a degree in business. But there are other writers out there that will take serious offense to this kind of comment. This is their dream job, so do not bring them down just because you do not consider writing to be a "real job."
12. Can I read it?
If you want to read it so you can critique it -- be my guest! But if you are just trying to get an early copy because we are friends on Facebook and you for some reason feel you have the right to ask -- sorry! You're going to have to wait just like everyone else. It goes back to that whole "it's too personal" thing I previously mentioned.
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