10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Writer

Whenever you meet someone new or catch up with someone you haven’t seen in a while, one of the first things they ask you is what you do. When you tell people you’re a writer, you get all kinds of looks and questions. A lot of people are curious. A lot of people just want to throw shade. Here are a couple of things that people have said to me and other writers that make my skin crawl. 

What do you write? Words. Lots and lots of words. So many words. Sometimes they blend together just right to form stories, novels and the occasional poem. Seriously though, this question is kind of weird because it isn’t specific. When you say stories or poems, people ask what kind or what do you write about. Most of us don’t write about the same thing so it’s hard to find a blanket answer sometimes if people ask these follow-up questions.

I have a great idea for a novel/story/poem. This one isn’t so bad. Usually this just leads to a conversation about their idea. Most of the time this isn’t so bad. All you have to is smile and nod and perhaps offer your opinion. It becomes annoying when people ask you to write it for them and then split the profits.

Do you have a real job? This one really stings. It implies that writing isn’t a valid career choice. Writing is a lot of work. It takes as much time and effort as sitting in an office all day. A lot of us write and hold down another job too.

How much money do you make? Would you ask a doctor or a police officer how much money he or she makes? Didn’t think so. It’s none of your business.

Have you had any of your work published? This can be hurtful to writers who are starting out. My first stint as a writer was ghost writing for a content mill. I had lots of articles floating around on the internet, but my name wasn’t on them. When I officially decided to make a career as a writer, I felt like a second class citizen because nothing out there had my name on it. I wasn’t really published. Besides, it’s a different world now. You don’t have to be published in a magazine, paper or with the Big 6 in order to be a writer.

I’ve always thought about writing a book. Oh yeah? is pretty much all you can say to this. And it makes me feel like kind of an asshole if I don’t follow up with a few questions.

Can I have a free copy? This turns my anxiety up to 11. I don’t have a problem giving away a free copy here or there or putting it on layaway so to speak, but I can’t do it all the time. From a business standpoint, it hurts my bottom line. From a personal standpoint, it sucks having to say no.

Writing doesn’t seem that hard. It’s understandable that people would think being a writer is easy. All they see is the finished product. However, it’s a shit ton of work. Not only do writers have to come up with an idea and compelling plots and characters, they have to make it sound good. It has to flow. From there we have to edit it until our eyeballs fall out or we throw our computers out of the window. Whichever comes first. Then we have to find someone to publish it. Piece of cake.

I’m going to write a book when I retire or have some more free time on my hands. If you really wanted to write a book, you’d make the time. Just saying.

Any comments about working from home. When most people hear “I work from home” they interpret it as “I sit around in my pajamas all day and surf the internet.” Most of us don’t work in our jammies. Sometimes we work in our underwear. I throw on sweatpants. Regardless of what we’re wearing, most writers work really hard at their craft, no matter how tempting it is to go play Candy Crush.

There you have it folks. If you ever said these things to a writer, it’s not too late to change. If you’re a writer, I hope you got a chuckle out of this. What things do people say to you guys that make your skin crawl? Let me know in the comments below! 

NOTE: My interview that was on the Author Show is now featured here on the blog. You can find it on the top right under the “Where You Can Find Me” tab which has also been updated. There is also a direct link to purchase my novel, Madness. Thanks for your support! See you tomorrow! 

8 thoughts on “10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Writer

  1. Great post! I’ve heard and read about other people thinking that writing is something anyone can do. Makes me angry too. They don’t realize how many hours we spent searching for the right words for our work. Or how we went through draft after draft searching for perfection.

  2. I can kind of relate because I teach part-time and blog the rest of the time and I think people underestimate how much time I have on my hands–which is practically no time.

    Thanks for posting.

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