Monthly Archives: January 2015

5 Things Not to Say to the Writer in Your Life

Once you start announcing that you’re a writer, a lot of things are said. Questions about your work, your motivation, your plans and everything else that anyone could possibly question come up. Comments about the validity of writing as a profession, your chances of being successful in the field, and options for writing in the professional spectrum are (ahem) helpfully  doled out. Sometimes even outright criticism surfaces. These are just a few of the statements we hear a lot and we wish we never did.

What Not to Sayto the Writer in Your

“What’s your [insert story, novel, or novella] about?”

We appreciate your interest, and love the fact that you care enough to ask, but…that question is pretty much impossible to answer without sounding like a moron. We’re writers, and while some of us are lucky enough to be able to speak as well as we write, most are not (me included). Intricate, sweeping epics are reduced to a few jumbled, confusing sentences mumbled by a darty-eyed writer who looks like they want to sink into the floor when this question is asked. You’re sweet, but do us a favor and read the official synopses when the book comes out.

 “Can I read it?”

Thanks for offering, and I mean this in the best possible way, but NO, YOU ABSOLUTELY MAY NOT. If it isn’t already published–whether traditionally or on a site for beta readers–there’s typically a reason. We bare a part of our souls in every story we write and it’s hard to let go of our work, even when it is ready for public consumption, let alone before.

“Is [insert certain character] a real person? Who is it?”

… Maybe.  But considering that I may or may not have had them murdered with a fried zucchini in chapter three, I’d rather not say. Some writers do pull characters from their own lives and there’s always the possibility that they’ve used elements of the person asking, which can make for a truly awkward conversation if the qualities pulled are unflattering.

“Are you published yet?”

If the writer in question is not yet published, this can be awkward and embarrassing and on the whole, a humiliating reminder that they’re not as successful as they planned on being after countless drafts and years of editing. If they are, the implication that you doubt their ability to write a publishable piece can…well…sting. A lot. Not a great outcome either way.

 “You know you can’t make money doing that, right?”

…Do you know how often writers hear/read that? DO YOU?!?!? Of course we know it’s not always a viable career. That’s not the point. The point is getting to do what we love, regardless of whether or not it means suffering through an office job the rest of our lives to support the habit. We know the likelihood of our work taking off is slim, but we still have to give it a shot. And even if it never puts one extra dollar in our accounts, it makes us happy.

How about you? Any particular things you hate hearing as a writer?

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Burnout and How to Beat It

Do you ever feel hopelessly stuck in the middle of a story? Or just too exhausted from real life to throw yourself into a fictional one? It’s easy to get burned out, especially if you’re trying to juggle writing with a job, school, family, and the billion other things that will demand your attention. It’s not fun and it’s not easy to have ideas and feel unable to write them, but remember who and what you are: a writer. It’s a title that comes with doing. Not doing something perfectly, merely doing something. Like these things, perhaps.

1. Write Stuff.

It doesn’t matter what you’re writing, just that you are. Do some journaling, scribble down some really pathetic fanfiction, make overly detailed lists of what you did today–just write something! You won’t feel like it, but do it anyway. Nine times out of ten, once you’ve been at it for a few minutes, you’ll find yourself getting lost in the words just like you used to–even if the words you’re lost in aren’t exactly a masterpiece.

2. Write Different Stuff.

Switch projects. Maybe several times. Burnout can easily stem from falling into a rut, whether that rut involves obsessing over a single project, settling into a dull writing routine, or simply getting bored. Trying something new or alternating between several different types of projects (eg. a novel and an essay, or a short story and a memoir) can be enough to reignite your interest and draw you back into your passion.

3. Write Stuff for Yourself.

For me at least, one of the things that stops me from writing is knowing that other people will read what I write and might not like it. That’s stressful and can lead to so much hair-pulling and nail-biting that suddenly writing at all seems rather unappealing. The best way to break that mentality is to write things that are for your eyes only(at least to begin with) and forget about everyone else’s opinions for the time being. Write things the way you would if no one else was ever going to see them and you’ll find yourself having a lot more fun.

4. Don’t Write Stuff.

Sometimes, the best way to get back into the groove is to step out of it entirely for a while. Give yourself a well deserved break. I keep running across quotes from famous writers on Pinterest and Tumblr about how a true writer writes every day or how a writer can’t not write, but I don’t agree. Everyone needs a break once in a while, no matter how much they may love what they do. Parents take breaks from time to time; does that mean they aren’t true parents? Doctors, nurses, and police officers do, too, but that doesn’t make them bad at their jobs. So, why is it any different for writers? If you’re tired, go have an unhealthy snack, read a few good books(fun ones–books about writing don’t count), and come back to your project in a few days when you’ve had a chance to collect yourself.

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