I 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.)
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.