10 Great Things to Say to a Writer

pexels-photo-239548.jpegI decided to do something a bit different today. I’ve seen a lot of posts following the ’17 things you should NEVER say to a…’ format.

Now, the part of my brain that overthinks EVERYTHING wonders if I’m seeing a bit of subtext here: ‘we (the named group in this post) are just so misunderstood. And you are part of the problem. I bet you were going to say these things to us, weren’t you? You’re a terrible, insensitive human being!’

I did warn you that I overthink things. But I sometimes get to the end of those posts and think ‘hang on, I want to be a good friend here, so what would be the best thing for me to say instead?’

So, ladies and gentlemen, here are 10 things I think you can safely say to your writer friends!

  1. Tell me about your book. The first few times people asked me to talk about my novel, I was a stuttering disaster! ‘Er… it’s about… um… well… there’s themes of…’ But I really needed to learn how to have those conversations. So I went away and practised summarising the concept in a concise but hopefully compelling way. And now I love it when people take an interest in what I’ve written!
  2. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? This is a great one because the when will often naturally lead into the why, and it’s always good to get people talking about why they’re passionate about what they do.
  3. Who are your favourite authors? You don’t have to talk about your writer-friend’s own work all the time. It’s likely they are an avid reader, and will love discussing other books too!
  4. Do you get a lot of people expecting you to write for no money or accreditation? If you can handle a huge rant, this one will probably get your friend pretty animated! Writers are a lot like artists, musicians and web designers in this way. They will probably volunteer their skills for projects they love, but it’s nice to be rewarded for your work sometimes!
  5. It must take a lot of self-discipline. A lot of writers get told they have an easy job. Say anything to acknowledge this isn’t the case, and you will be promoted to best friend status immediately! (Maybe. I guess it’s dependent on other things like personalities and shared interests. Worth a shot though.)
  6. What are the big themes of your current project? This is a nice one because in conversation people will typically ask about plot, but rarely about the overarching ideas or messages of a work, meaning your average writer is itching to talk about hope and disappointment instead of the big mystery in Chapter 17 for a change!
  7. I know it’s too soon to talk about your new book/article/poem, but I want you to know I’m really excited about it! Sometimes it’s hard to talk about writing in the early stages. A lot of writers find this tricky. But just being supportive means the world.
  8. Where’s your favourite place to write? Maybe it’ll be a local cafe, or a secluded spot outdoors, or in the study at home, or just anywhere there’s space to rest a notebook on your knees among the rush hour commuters.
  9. Coffee? Not all writers have a caffeinated, deadline-fuelled, haven’t-been-outside-in-days existence. But it doesn’t hurt to keep them stocked up in hot drinks, just in case.
  10. Can I buy your book? Yes. Please do. Please tell all your friends to buy it too. Then maybe I’ll be allowed to write another one.


Did I miss anything? Let me know what you would add.


20 thoughts on “10 Great Things to Say to a Writer

  1. That writer Mel Healy says:

    Each to their own, but I’m a bit fed up of the “Where do you write?” question. Does it really add anything to an understanding of the author’s writing and the working process involved? Sometimes it comes across more like a glossy page in a Homes & Gardens type magazine.


    • actualconversationswithmyhusband says:

      I think a lot of people asking that question are doing so out of practical, selfish concerns: they see someone who must be able to keep themselves and their day terribly organized, and probably want to know more about that. So yeah, it maybe comes across as a H&G type question… but only because they’re imagining that your desk must be org-porn.


    • Niki Meadows says:

      That’s too funny! I was just going to leave a comment saying that was my favorite question. As a writer, I’m curious to know when and where other authors write and why. Is it for concentration? Inspiration? Necessity? To help them delve into the characters, time period, or location?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Yankee Frugalist says:

    I think you’ve covered it! Great points, all of them. Today I am working on my children’s book and have taken a break for just a few moments to promote my blog. I love this post and want everyone I know to say all of these things to me!


      • The Yankee Frugalist says:

        One day my husband went for a ride in his truck and a mouse popped out from under the hood and a comical exchange between the two of them ensued. That prompted a book about the mouse trying to find a home, one in our house, one in the chicken house and finally in my husband’s truck. He ends up half way around the lake we live on five miles away and it takes him nine months to get back home. He has all sorts of adventures on the way….I won’t tell the ending. I am nearly done with the writing, there are a few scenes left to do that have been outlined. NOW it’s just the dreaded editing. I plan to self publish on Amazon.


      • The Yankee Frugalist says:

        Thank you Claire. I just have one last scene to get through and the rough draft is done. I’m a bit stuck as to how I should manage this bit. I want the “love interest” in this story to be very strong and independent. I’m having a rough time working out how they actually come together after all.


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