Have you recently discovered your friend is a writer? Are they the first person you knew in real life who writes for living? Or at least writes on the side of their full-time job? Are you unsure what to say and not say to them? Well lucky for you, I’m here to help! Below is a list to help you on what not to say to writers. Enjoy!
- What are you writing about?/What’s your book about? – Believe it or not, most of us DREAD this question. We have to explain or describe it every single time the news comes out that we write, and the synopsis of the book eventually disintegrates due to our crippling anxiety. OR when we do tell you about it and we can tell you stopped listening after the first 3 words – no matter how awesome we made it sound. Like you were just making conversation but don’t care for the answer.
- How’s your book coming along? – As much as most of us want to rant if it’s going horribly, or express how excited we are that it’s almost done; we almost always answer with “Good.” If we truly answered how we want to answer it, we would get a lot of strange looks and push friends away.
- I thought about writing a book once. It’s not that hard, right? – Go ahead and try to write one and give me your answer then. Psssshhhh…
- Why are you taking so long to finish it? – First off, rude. Secondly, writers are constantly perfecting their work. The actual writing, the beta reading (which can take foorreevvverrr), the editing, then more editing and all kinds of other things. Just avoid this question in it’s entirety.
- But, writers don’t make any money. – While this is true in some cases, it’s not always the case. I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t do it for the money. I do it because I enjoy doing it. Teachers are kind of in the same boat; they don’t do it for the money, they do it because they love what they do. To me, this is a tad degrading and you should probably not say it.
- Do you think it will get made into a movie? – This is just mean (in a few different ways). I for one would love my series to be featured on the big screen. (But it’s so rare. I could get hit by lightening 12 times before that happened). The other way is, most writers don’t want to even think of there masterpieces being destroyed by getting made into a film. Most films made from books don’t do it justice — in case you didn’t know this already.
- What’s your favorite character you’ve written?/What’s your favorite book that you’ve written? – This question is like asking which one of your children you favor more. It’s just not fair and the writer will struggle with the answer or avoid you all together. Just assume they are all amazing and leave it at that.
- Can I get a (free) copy of your book? – My simple answer is either giving them a link to where they can purchase it, or tell them where they can buy it. Nothing is more frustrating than people (even friends and family) asking for a free copy of the book ‘just because they know you.’ I know I said I’m not in it for the money, but we put blood sweat and tears (and a ton of money) into it; we would like something in return.
- I’m gonna read your book tonight, and review it! – What a sweet gesture, and so very skewed. We understand you are thriving off the energy of the newly published book and the author is really excited for it, but, don’t tell them things like this. You’re only going to get their fragile hopes up and then smash it like the Hulk. Not to say you won’t, but, we’ll believe you when we see it. Because, trust me, we will constantly ask you if you’ve finished yet — 6 months later… and you still haven’t even started.
- When will your book be available to buy? – Not necessarily a bad question, but it can be nerve-racking for someone who just announced they completed it. Because even after finishing the writing process, it can still take several months to a year to get everything else done. It can put added pressure on us and feel that we won’t satisfy potential readers.
- Are you an alcoholic? – Okay, I don’t think people would plain out ask this, but if you are thinking it, stop. This is such a stereotypical attribute of writers, and it’s not at all accurate. There may be a few famous writers who suffered from alcoholism, but considering how many authors are out there today, the odds are very high. Do I drink alcohol? Yes. But I also have been doing that before I became a serious writer.
- When are you going to a get a real degree? – ‘Scuse me. If I’m not mistaken, pretty much everything that revolves around you has some thing to do with writing. Whether it be in the books you read, the shows and movies you watch, or instruction manuals for work. Nothing would exist without writers. Stop and think before saying something so insulting.
- (For horror writers) This is highly disturbing. You should get help. – Think of it this way… they wrote something down that is strictly on paper. They didn’t actually do those things they wrote about. If someone who didn’t actually do those things and wrote it out making you think they did, they should get an award for that, not counseling. Don’t judge someone for being creative.
- You’re probably a grammar nazi, huh? – I know for a fact this doesn’t go for all writers. That’s why we team up with editors, who do that for a living. Also, it’s not nice to call someone any form of a nazi. You know what they did, right? Not trying to sound like a prude, but it’s only said now-a-days as an insult. But, someone who likes to use proper grammar is seen as a bad thing? Why?
- Writing is just a hobby, right? – Ouch. Writing might be just a hobby for some people, but why risk it? You don’t know. Maybe they are wanting to pursue a career, and you just set them back a few years. Doesn’t most things you’re interested in start as a hobby? That’s how you find out what you really love to do. If they want to make that love into a money making career, who are you to down play that?
- I want to read it! – Thanks friend/family member. I know you won’t, or you’ll read the first few pages and then give up; but thanks.
Did I miss some? I’m sure I did. Let me know in the comments what irritates you as a writer to hear. Lets all complain together! ##