10 Things NEVER to say to a new writer. (And what to expect if you do.)

Early on, in my days as a new writer, I heard a variety of reactions when I met someone for the first time and told them I was a writer. Most people react favourably when they discover I’m a writer, but for some others it may comes across as confounding.

What are the reactions most new writers usually get?

The reactions range from curious (What kind of writing?) to downright offensive (No, what do you really do?) to amusing as this list indicates. Some of these amusing (read mildly offensive) responses not only show how unaware people are about the process of writing, but also expose the deep-rooted disdain and disrespect that people have for the arts.

It’s unfortunate, but it’s also funny, because the similar responses keeo getting repeated unless the writer’s replies begin to change. It’s as if you being a writer is something that’s not worthy of respect unless you’re famous and/or rich. The questions range from how you spend your time or how you earn your living. Most of us writers would have heard some of these statements of some variation of it,  at some point in our careers. This list will prove helpful advice on what never to say, in case you happen to meet someone who calls themselves a writer.

For new writers, it can leave us confused as to how to respond. So this is something that could be helpful  to share as soon as we meet someone new. The greetings and the pleasantries can come later. Make sure to wonk your new friend on the head as you share this article or else they may not comprehend it completely.

Why I write this piece?

As a public service and to fulfill my responsibility as a writer, I thought it important to put down a blogpost to increase awareness for people on what never to say when they meet a writer. This could also be considered an attempt on my part to commiserate with other writers who may have been put through the same torture. If you’re heard any one of these sentences and didn’t know what to say then, there’s help at hand. Next time, you’d be better prepared. Don’t forget to clap your hands with their head between your palms next time you hear any one of these statement.

And if you’re one of those who has uttered any one of these sentences, expect the responses in italics below.

10 Things Never to Say to a New Writer

  1. Oh, so how many books have you published?

The process of publishing isn’t that easy or quick. It takes years for a writer to be able to reach the stage where their book is publish-ready. If you ask a newbie writer this, it only ends up being insulting and demotivating.

  1. I’m a writer too! Only thing, it’s all in my head, right now. I only need put it in words.

Imagine sitting at a doctor’s clinic and the person treating you saying, ‘Well, I’m a doctor too. Only thing I never went to medical school.’

You’re a writer, only if you write!

  1. I wrote something too. Can I send it to you? See if you can get it published.

Sure. But first, get in line, please.

  1. I’ve got a brilliant idea. It’s so good it will surely win awards. You can write it, just share the credit and the rewards.

Writers are creative enough to have their own ideas and inspiration. We don’t need others to give us ideas. Besides, all ideas are brilliant. Our skill lies in the way we execute it. That’s what writing is all about, after all. Besides, if we were to do all the hard work, why would we share the credit or the rewards with you?!

  1. You have to read my stories/buy my book, even thought it’s still a draft. You absolutely must, it’s the best thing that will happen to you. Seriously, you’ll thank me for it.

Thanks, but no thanks!

  1. So you are those one of those types who walk around with a jhola on your shoulder and your hair in a mess?

Sometimes we also carry a high-heeled shoe in that jhola to whack those holding such stereotypical ideas about writers.

  1. Can I get your book for free? Oh no, I don’t read. I just want to pretend I do.

The only appropriate response you can expect to this is, ‘Can I get you to sign over all your inheritance to me. Oh no, I don’t steal or blackmail. I just pretend I do.’

  1. I wish to be a writer too, someday.

In no way is this an expression of your desire to be a writer. It is, however, a clear indication of how you think writing is just something that one can do overnight, like a whim being fulfilled. Writing, like any other skill, takes time to practice and hone. You can decide to become a writer one day, and begin writing, but it will surely take some time before you begin to call yourself a writer.

  1. So, when’s your next book coming out? Send me a copy, please. To gift to my sister/brother/niece/third cousin/neighbour’s third cousin’s niece’s dog/hamster.

Here’s the purchase link. The price has been marked up, just for you. 

I’ve saved the most offensive for the last. Never EVER utter these words in front of a writer, or any artist, really.

But even before I reveal the 10th thing never to say, let’s change directions a bit. If you’ve been reading this far, there’s one question playing on your mind. Hopefully, it happens to be :

What’s most the appropriate response, then? 

There’s only one. And it’s ‘Where can I read your work?’ 

You would not only make the writer very happy but you would also make a friend for life.

And now for the 10th thing never to say. Never. EVER.

  1. What’s the big deal? It’s just timepass, after all.

Oh, you already did, is it? You already said the words. Well, then … Run! Drop everything and run for your life.

Did you enjoy reading this post? What is the most offensive thing you’ve heard as a writer? What were the things you heard when you first began writing? Share with me in the comments.

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