Recently I saw a list of “What Moms Don’t Want To Hear” and it made me think of all those questions and comments you hear as a writer that you really wouldn’t mind never hearing again. Here are a few that I’ve heard:
1. “Is there a formula to writing a good book?”
A Beginning + A Middle + The End = A Book. Whether or not that book is actually good… There are too many techniques, voices and tastes in this world to restrict that to a single formula. When you ask a writer this question, you’re also asking them if there’s a shortcut to something that took them years of reading and writing to discover.
2. “Hey, I’ve got this idea for a book…”
It’s your idea. Not ours. Yours. We don’t want to hear it, even if it really is a best-seller. We don’t mind finding inspiration through others, but most writers don’t like a story handed to them like that. It feels very artificial. What you should really be doing is working on it yourself because we’d much rather see what you can make of it. And, you’ll be much happier because another writer may steer the story far away from what you’ve envisioned.
3. “Well, we’ve got ourselves the next [insert famous author’s name here]!”
If they say this after reading your work, it might be okay. But, most of the time people learn that your a writer and they automatically bring up a famous author. One of two things could happen. Either you dislike the mentioned author and don’t appreciate being compared to them, or you like/love that author and feel pressured to be THAT good.
4. “It must be so nice to write for a living. You can make your own hours….”
Actually, it’s not a stress free life when you write. You may love it, but it doesn’t always love you. Characters are being rebellious, plots aren’t thickening, and sometimes things are simply not clicking in your head. Then, there are the hours. Just because you can decide what time of the day or night you want to work, doesn’t make you any less busy. If the impulse to write strikes or you have a deadline to meet, you could be up into the wee hours.
5. “It’s got to be pretty easy to write a [insert number] word novel.”
You really shouldn’t say this unless you’ve actually written a novel yourself. Saying this to an author without ever attempting it can really tick off said author. Such comments make it sound like their work is effortless. You might as well be telling a mother that it must have been so easy to have a baby because to a lot of writers a story/novel is their brain child.
There you go. Is there anything you want to add to the list? A question or comment that just gets to you?