Sometimes I find myself doing things that seem completely natural to me but friends, that are non-writers, find strange and peculiar. As I have been involved in writers clubs, critique groups and workshops, I know I am in this category of people who are just very different. For those of you who are not writers, you might want to check in here to see if your friend is a complete lunatic or a writer. If you are a writer, feel free to add your own odd/interesting styles below in the comments section.
Below are observations of other writers OR yep, I do it too.
1. Instead of writing normal emails, you often start out with a metaphor or the beginning paragraph or two for a scene you are working on, with a sentence following that states ”What do you think?” or ”Isn’t this the greatest idea ever?” This takes precedence over responding to your friends email. However, this IS a better way of responding to your friends email because the metaphor justifies your answer in a way you could not explain in any other way. Often you quote other people in your emails because it is important to show how well read you are and to educate your friends on the knowledge you have uncovered in books. This way they are encouraged to follow suit.
2. For ex-engineer or tech writer friends, they need to turn their manuscript into a project that requires spreadsheets, binders, plenty of pencils (even though they use a computer), time clocks, lunch breaks, coffee breaks and some might even have a secretary to answer their phone calls. The spreadsheets involve break downs of daily page counts, number of words, and even number of paragraphs. The binders are for the rough draft. Each time they create a new rough draft, copies of old rough drafts are filed away in the filing cabinet for future reference. Even though this is all saved in your hard drive, it is relevant to their future celebrity status, should a museum call their family and ask for copies of old rough drafts.
3. Conversations with other people often involve discussions about their book or other authors. They might ask “Why did you like Vampire Diaries vs. Twilight? What made you feel that one was better than the other?” (I just had this discussion with an 18-year-old. Luckily they enjoyed the attention).
4. They break-up with their partner and instead of going into a heated argument by email, they carefully craft a dramatic poem detailing their angst, their partner’s inability to communicate or meet their needs and if they are really pissed prepare an acrostic [name poem] that border lines homicidal tendencies. When the writer partner is ready to make up they write the most beautiful sonnet ever composed. God forbid both parties are writers! Then there is a showdown.
5. It’s the middle of the night and suddenly this brilliant idea occurs to your partner. Given the fact that this IS something they will forget by the time the alarm goes off and their Pulitzer Prize is completely dependent on these very words - which no one has ever thought of, they jump out of bed, run to turn the computer on and before you know it have typed the first 20 pages of their new manuscript. By now they are feeling relieved to get it all out of their head - return to bed and sleep soundly, waking up to tell you what happened and how their life is about to change.
6. They are working on a manuscript and believe that you (and your family) have become aliens who have taken over their household. You look familiar to them, as they know they have seen you before in their bed, have had dinner with you, even spent time outside the home but you are now impeding their ability to write. Can’t you go back to your planet for the time being? The rules you should know by now is that they must be treated with quiet, respect, space and the ability to do whatever they wish until they finish getting that idea out of their head. Watch out so you don’t get yelled at, ignored or learn that you are the new villain in their novel.
I had to add here what happens when they take over the house to write. Don’t be surprised if for hours on end the writer forgets to eat, relieve themself and toward the end of their “shift” is bent over their computer as if they are one with the keyboard. The good news is that they have just written something really powerful and amazing – the bad news is it will be edited once they are finished and will resemble something a little different than what first started.
7. Some of us are lucky enough to have rooms with doors we can shut and signs we can post on the doors that say “Do Not Disturb.” One writer I know takes the liberty of putting up black-out curtains, locking the doors, turning off the phones and not having the Internet up so that they are able to communicate with the outside world. Creating a cave-like effect so that you are immersed in another world all your own, quite literally, is one of the most humane ways to be a writer.
8. Another great conversation starter is telling people you are a writer and then forgetting your elevator pitch. This means you have to try to figure out how to explain your new book to the person sitting next to you and out comes the most ridiculous version of your story ever. Then you say “Well, you have to read it to understand.” Or you make some witty comment like “It’s a very unique story about aliens who are trapped in their own house and mankind is dependent on its existence from that one room.” When the person you have now abducted as your next sale has this look of bewilderment on their face – you know [sarcasm] you have got them. You whip out some paper and pen, write your Writer’s Website down on the paper and leave them with “You gotta read it. Your gonna love it.”
9. Writers tend to dress pretty conservatively because they don’t want to be seen, they want their books to be seen. They want their stories to exude all the flamboyance locked up inside them. Hats tend to be fun for some writers as an accessory, occasionally a leather jacket to be cool. Clothing will be earth tones, jeans and a shirt, a simple dress, playful skirt, and often a tote bag (tote bag is a must for workshops, seminars, critique groups, Open Mics, or carrying your recent novel to show others). While they are conservative, don’t be surprised if they get naughty with a pair of weird glasses, shoes, or a witty t-shirt spouting philosophy of a great writer.
10. Of course they have a blog. What writer does not have a blog in 2012? Why because you need to write articles to educate those new writers out there who need your expertise in becoming a writer. It also gives you a chance to lure in potential sales who will read your well crafted thoughts and think “OMG, I need to see what books they write, because I HAVE to buy this guys book. They are a genius! Where is the link on the website for their book, where is my credit card?”
11. God forbid the person at the party is not equipped with pens, paper or even be prepared to just write the references on their sleeve. Writers are going to give you at least ten books and/or movies that you HAVE to see because your life will change after having done so. Often they will of course include their own book in that list somewhere in this conversation and depending on their level of self-esteem it will be the first book or last book mentioned. Often they leave it out waiting for you to beg them to tell you about their book. Secretly we all thrive on someone asking us to tell them about our books and where they can rush out to buy it after they have left the evenings event. Maybe they will even buy it right there in front of you while you show them how to get it on their Ipad, Tablet or cell phone!!!
12. Writer who works during the day, while they are waiting on stardom, but is composing the next chapter of their book while on their lunch break, coffee break, or having a dull moment at work and need to shake things up. This might involve uncontrolled laughing, as they write their comedic blog post. The writer might suddenly forget they are at work and snap at someone who walks in their cubicle, while they are in the middle of a very important scene. Trying to ask questions to their colleagues like “What do you call those poems that have people’s names spelled out where each line is the letter of their name?” and their colleague looks at them and says “I don’t know,” and then the writer remembers that their colleague shops for purses on their lunch breaks.
13. Musicians hear songs in their head, writers hear their characters talking to them and telling them the storylines. Sometimes it can be all the characters together acting out the story for them as they are on long drives.
That’s all I can think of for the moment. Do you recognize your writer friend, lover, spouse, mom/dad, etc… etc… on here? Oh, we are not crazy, Geez! We just want to be loved for our writing.
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- 12 Lessons Learned from 12 Years of Writing (copyblogger.com)
- Can a Writer Grow Thicker Skin? (justanotherworkingwriter.wordpress.com)
- Tuesday Morning Ramblings (daadams.com)
- 500 5 ways to be a better writer (lynndaue.wordpress.com)