Monday, August 26, 2013

Never Say These Things to a Writer

Being a writer can be hard, we all know this. What makes it even more difficult is when we are confronted by people who don't always know how to respond to your passion for writing. So, today I'm going to have a little "fun" and list some of the worst things to say to a writer; most of these have personally been said to me.

1. "Oh, you want to write? What else do you want to do?"

Um...did you not just ask me what I want to do or what I do? I understand writing isn't the highest paying job and at some point I'll have to go out and find more work, but consider for a moment that, just maybe, I want to focus my attention on writing, not another profession. After all, that is what I responded with first, not becoming a secretary or nurse.

2. "Stop planning so much and just WRITE!"

Okay, I'm not saying that no writer ever gets stuck in a rut and doesn't *purposely* put off their work. However, unless that's the obvious, particular issue you're addressing, never EVER say this to a writer. Planning and research can be the most time-consuming part of being a writing, and you should never rush into the writing until you're confident that your story is ready to be written. I've had people say something similar to this dealing with other things I work on as well, and let me tell you, I want to fly through the roof when the words hit my ears. If you don't want to be written into that writer's story and killed off, take some friendly advice and take an interest in their research - don't push the writer.

3. After hearing about the story concept: "Oh, that sounds like 'such and such' story/movie!"

Unless you've read the written manuscript and it obviously contains identical plot points and characters (plagiarism), don't say this. Just don't. It's insulting and discouraging to the writer. Think about it - a lot of stories have a similar premise or similar qualities in characters, but they can be completely different. Writers (should) know how horrible plagiarism is, and more than likely they're thinking something 100% different for the direction of their story than you are. You are not their mind, they are not yours - stop pre-judging.

4. "You write (genre)? I never cared for (said genre)..."

Ah, good. Thank you for taking an interest and then squashing me. You may not intentionally mean this in a bad way, but watch your words before you speak. Personally, I know not everyone cares for fantasy or has read much of it, and that's totally fine; everyone has their own interests and are completely entitled to their opinion. However, instead of saying "I never cared for fantasy," try just saying something like, "I never got a chance to read much of that genre," or instead ask the writer what her favorite authors/books of that genre are. Be sensitive.

5. "Can't wait to see you on the bestseller's list!"

This is just a personal preference. While sometimes this can be very flattering, and personally makes me blush, it can be a daunting thing to say to a writer. Someone at my church said something similar to this (several times, actually), and I wanted to hide. For me, it puts on wicked pressure because I'm shy to let anyone read my writing (I know, not a good quality) and then I end up feeling I'm going to let people down. Try switching this statement to "I can't wait to see your book on the shelves." To me, that's much more encouraging :)

6. "You want to do what? Write? Oh, that's tough. You can't expect to someone do the work for you."

Oh, really? Rats. I was hoping I wouldn't even have to write all the words; I thought there was a secret robotic mechanism for authors that wrote down their ideas into stories.
I had something similar said to me once (and no, I didn't respond as I fired off above). If you have the deep-setted passion for writing and getting your work published, whether you're an introvert like me or not, you WILL work vehemently towards your goal. Everything is difficult at some point, everyone has to work hard to reach their goals. Don't try to discourage me by saying I can't do it; I'll laugh in your face when I personally hand you a published copy of my book. (No, I wouldn't do that...I'm not that mean. It's passion and determination, that's all. ...Really.)

We as writers can also learn from this. These statements said aren't just limited to those who aren't writers; at least a couple of those said to me was said by someone in the creative field. When you meet a fellow writer or author, think before you speak and consider if you'd want the same questions asked of you.

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