8 proven ways to make a writer’s eye twitch
Does anyone dread the moment someone asks you: “So, what do you do for a living?” I recently quit my job, and, even if I’m super excited about it, I’m also very uncomfortable with the question when it comes from a non-writer.
All the writers will get what I’m doing, or even why, and I get very excited when I converse with them. However, when it’s a non-writer, most of the time I tend to panic a little inside.
Ok! Maybe not that bad… and I’m not talking about my friends because most of them know me enough to know I’m not crazy and it was a mature decision (or at least, they are letting me think that).
I’m talking about the random people I meet. I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by amazing people, but, here and there, you’ll have this one person that will get on your nerves right away. It’s like “Go directly to prison. Do not pass GO, do not collect the money” kind of situation, and you can’t bail. You have to sit (or stand) there and you’re not sure whether or not you should laugh or be annoyed.
So here are a few situations I’ve heard/experienced that would annoy any writer:
#1 – “Have you finished writing your book already?” when It’s only been a few months since you started…
As a rule of thumb and regardless of the time, no one should ask that question. Oh, gosh! I saw a meme this week that translated well the feeling because at the end of the day, you’re writing a book and not a grocery list.
It does take time to write a book, and even if you wrote the first draft, the book is far from being completed. It’s a lengthy process that you don’t want to rush because when it is, it’s usually not finished. In this situation, the tone used is really what will make me smile or go nuts.
I don’t mind questions like, “how is it coming along?” or something in those lines. Believe me – writers already feel the pressure. Let’s not add to it or be demeaning.
Reading a book not fully developed or full of typos is a sure way to kill your credibility as a writer. No one should ever rush, especially when you start. As time goes on, you’ll have deadlines, but you will have to set realistic expectations for quality work (even though I get some time, it’s not your choice).
#2 – “So, are you going to be the next bestseller?”
First of all, a writer isn’t a psychic, doesn’t have a crystal ball (or at least, I don’t know any), and I’m certain a writer doesn’t have magical abilities. I wish though because that would be really cool, but no, for sure. So, no one would be able to answer accurately.
I think it was meant as a joke, but just turned out to be awkward. So, this is a pointless question.
The likelihood of being a best seller remains small because, depending on the list, if you want to be a best-seller, you need to sell between 3,000 to 9,000 books in the first week alone… On average, a book is sold at 3,000 copies in its entire lifespan.
Stephanie Meyer’s success with her debut novel, Twilight, isn’t going to happen to all of us. Of course, this is a dream of mine like many writers, but I write first and foremost because I enjoy it and it makes me happy.
To be honest, I’ll be happy if I make enough money to do this full time over the long haul. For many of us, success doesn’t mean being rich and famous, but being able to sell enough to make it a full-time job.
#3 – “Why is it taking so long to publish?”
I have to say that if you’re not in the industry, it’s not necessarily obvious how much it takes to get your book out. Writing a book requires many talents apart from writing, or at least the ability to hire the right people to do it successfully for you.
Because, even if you go the self-publishing route, it will take time, but much less than with traditional publishing that has a lot of layers. Just keep in mind, nothing will happen overnight.
#4 – If you ask a writer to read a book/paper, please read proof it first.
I guess if not published yet, it won’t bug me too much. But, reading a published book – or “ready” for publication – full of typos and grammar errors drives me to the edge. It does to most people, writers or not.
I almost need a bag as I hyperventilate. The typos suddenly appear so much bigger than they eclipse the rest as if they had the power to go ten sizes up as soon as I see them.
I mean once or twice in a book won’t kill me, it’s tough to catch everything, but every 2 or 5 pages, it gets on my nerves and ruins the story.
It’s like being in a closed room next to someone who has a cold and keeps coughing next to you. Once or twice is tolerable, but more than that and you want to dart outside before you get sick. You can’t even see how beautiful the room is anymore.
It’s important that the story is the only thing that you see as a reader, so please take some time to double check everything, or ask someone to do it for you.
#5 – “Oh, I have a wonderful idea; you need to write the book for me.”
This is very awkward for me. After I say that I’m a writer, I’ve had a few people asking me to write a book for them as they have wonderful ideas.
I’m flattered, BUT what you need is a ghostwriter, not a fantasy writer or blogger… I love writing things that pop into my head, not necessarily into a random person’s mind. I wouldn’t be against it if it’s something I feel passionate about, but the likelihood I would do it is rather thin.
#6 – “How are you going to survive financially?”
This is usually when I wonder if you have a death wish. Lol.
First of all, no pun intended, but I have a decent idea of what I got myself into (not really, but I like to think so). Second, who said anything about surviving? I’m not going to survive, but live my life to the fullest.
Not everyone gets how happy writing makes me feel, and I can’t blame them. Unless you have a passion, it can be tough, but in any way, this feels like a sacrifice or a burden. So, let’s be clear, I LOVE writing.
#7 – “So, you’re going to be rich…”
This one makes me want to laugh out loud pretty bad. It’s (almost) cute.
Ah, if only being a writer made you rich…
There are exceptions obviously, but, if you start writing because you want to make tons of money, I would say you haven’t picked the easiest way.
But, hey, you can try. I want to say, live your life with no regrets. With that said, you should also write because you love it and not because you want to be rich and famous.
#8 – “That’s great, you have a lot of free time, then!”
This one let me perplexed and made my eye twitch a little. Don’t confuse full-time writer with being unemployed with a hobby.
The principle of writing full-time is to write full-time… and, I do take this very seriously. I don’t like when people try to undermine your professional endeavor. Follow your dreams no matter what. That’s what matters in the end.
I’m sure I’ll come across more and more of these awkward situations as time passes, but I won’t let them define me. I’m proud and sincerely happy to write. I love having a writing community who gets my challenges. For the most part, I wasn’t that annoyed with the questions (more amused actually). But, it made me realize how very often being a writer is either under-appreciated or misrepresented.
It takes a lot of work to get your story out, and only the passionate and hard workers who are committed get to see this happen.
No one knows what the future holds, and it may fade with time, but I certainly hope not. Writing is a wonderful way to express yourself in the most creative ways.
I feel blessed everyday for finding a passion that makes me wake up each morning excited and happy regardless of the outcome or the challenges.