All writers have friends who are not writers. It would get a little overwhelming, to be honest, if we only hung out with people as creatively inclined, writing-wise, as we are. But just because it happens doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes, it’s exhausting. So, non-writer friends — here are a few things we’ve never told you, but have wanted to for a long time.
We’re not (always) thinking, “This would make a great story!”
You don’t think about your job 24/7. We don’t think about ours that much, either. When real-life events do inspire us to write something, most of the time, it’s accidental. Ideas are a bit like viruses. They creep up without warning and slowly take over our lives. We don’t go looking for them and don’t even always detect them in the moment. Comments like, “You could write a story about this” are well-meaning, and we appreciate them, but they do get kind of old sometimes.
You’re (probably) not going to end up in our novels
I love my “Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel” sweatshirt. But it is, like many one-liners you can easily fit onto a T-shirt, an exaggeration. Most of the time, we don’t like turning people we know into characters. It’s weird. Small elements of your essence or our friendship might find their way into a story here and there, but you don’t have to scrutinize everything we write to find your character whose name has been changed ever-so-slightly.
Don’t worry — we won’t ask you to read our rough drafts (unless you want to)
But we might not have time to read yours, either. Maybe we just need to agree not to expect this from one another.
We’re very aware how hard it is to say no to a writer friend who asks us to read the first three chapters of their book and give instant feedback ASAP. We don’t want other writers doing that to us unless we’re part of some kind of critique group or we’re getting paid for it. We know you’re busy and that you might feel pressured to say you like it even when you don’t. Maybe we did it to you once, a long time ago, but we’re really sorry about that. You’re welcome to read a chapter or two, if you want to, but you’re not obliged.
But there are plenty of other ways you can support us
Reading our unpublished work or buying our published writing isn’t necessarily the best (or only) way to support us. Actually, one of the best things you can do is try to understand that our lives are pretty unpredictable. We want to hang out with you and talk and keep our hands away from our keyboards for awhile. Sometimes, our ideas just keep us in our chairs. Still invite us to do stuff with you anyway. We’ll find a way to make it work.
We don’t need you to share all our blog posts or like our tweets or tell everyone you know that your BFF is a writer. All those things are great. But just be here. Even if it doesn’t always seem like we’re fully invested in the present moment, chances are, we still won’t forget it.
We love you. We’re grateful you put up with us in those moments we do act strange (because there are many of those, too). Thanks for understanding our quirks and celebrating who we are. If you do end up in our stories, we (probably) won’t kill you off. At least, not in the first book.
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 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.