1. “When are you going to publish a book?” Well, we’re either in the middle of writing a draft (and that’s only the beginning of the process), we’ve already self-published, or we aren’t working on a book, and don’t really plan to, because not all writers write books.
2. “I’d love to write a book someday!” That’s really great, and we’re genuinely happy for you. But we’re not really sure how to respond to this. Are you looking for writing advice? Many of us don’t give that out for free. And no, we won’t write your book for you, so don’t ask.
3. “I’d love to read what you’re working on!” That’s so nice to hear, but just a few things … first, we might be in the middle of writing, and we’re not always going to be willing to share our unfinished work — we’re not being rude, this is just a very private thing at this point. Second, are you actually genuinely interested in reading our work? Because it takes a lot of guts to send out work to someone, and if you just don’t acknowledge it, that’s kind of insincere.
4. “Will you read this thing I wrote and tell me if it’s good?” Actually probably not, not because we don’t care, but because we don’t have time to give free feedback. But you should know that, if you wrote something you think is worth our time!
5. “What’s your real job? How do you pay your bills?” We write? Writers don’t make a lot of money, but we’re not (usually) desperate for cash. There are dozens of ways to make money writing, and the reason it seems like everyone’s doing all of them … is because we are. It’s pretty much impossible not to make money as a writer, unless you never write.
6. “You should write about …” Stop. YOU should write about whatever your idea is, if you want it written so badly. Just because we’re writers doesn’t mean we go around making other people’s ideas come to life. Okay, sometimes we do, but for the most part, we’re setting out to be original here. Please stop telling us what you want to see get made. That’s not helpful for anyone, especially us.
7. “Where do your ideas come from?” Our brains? We don’t “get” our ideas from anywhere, they just appear, unsolicited, and we have to figure out where to put (or discard) them. We are writers because we’re more prone to spontaneous inspiration (and we’re really bad at not jumping at every chance we get to work on something new). That’s why not everyone is suited for the writing profession.
8. “Tell me about what you’re working on.” No. Our published work is all up for grabs, but don’t touch our unfinished work. It’s not for you. It might seem like talking about it might get us excited about our projects, but actually, it’s terrifying. Plus, every second we spend talking to you about things that aren’t even finalized yet, we’re not spending actually working on these things … so, yeah.
Writers are friendly — we promise! Just realize that we have lives outside of writing, and sometimes, we really don’t want to talk about it.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.