How (Not) to Talk to a Writer #1

I ran across this cartoon recently and got a good laugh out of it, but it’s true…so true.


I have a writer friend who once lamented that she didn’t have a machine to get her ideas straight out of her head and onto the computer.  It would save so much time and typing!

My response was that if they ever created such a machine, she and I would be out of a job.

You see, millions of people have great ideas.  The difference between a writer and a person with a great idea is that the writer sits down and writes it.  It’s an issue of commitment, determination, and dogged persistence.  (Mostly dogged persistence.)

Some writers even chose to go through the traditional publication process after that….which is a whole ‘nother level of commitment, determination, and dogged persistence (usually only reached after traversing several levels of painful rejection).

So that’s why the above comic seems so apropriate.  The brain surgeon knows how much he went through to get where he is.

If you tell a writer about your idea for your novel, they may give you that same blank look.  We’re not being rude.  We just don’t know where to start.

Because the void between the idea and the product is wide…and often the only way to understand that is to go through the process.

17 thoughts on “How (Not) to Talk to a Writer #1

  1. As an aspiring writer, it is a funny thing. I used to have ideas that I thought were cool and would make awesome stories, and get that very expression when I talked to my writer friends. It is only now, that I have actually taken the next step and actually put them down on paper, and have started the arduous process of finding an agent, editing, and all the other stuff, that I realize why I got that look. I say other stuff because there is a world of things that go into writing…professionally, that you can’t even begin to explain to someone until they actually sit down and try.

    1. Exactly…it’s so hard to explain to someone who isn’t in the profession all the myriad things we have to do. (This is one reason why conventions are such fun…we get to talk to other people who know what we go through!)

  2. I once encouraged a friend of mine who had spoken of his great idea for a novel with the phrase, “Well, I got a first draft written in six months, so it doesn’t take that much time to get the idea started. You should give it a try.”

    The look he gave me was priceless.

  3. This is so true – When folks hear I wrote a book usually the next line back is “I’m thinking of writing one” or “I’ve always thought about writing one” and the tone that “it’s probably not all that hard. They’ll do it once they have some free time.” I try hard not to roll my eyes or laugh because we all know it’s anything BUT easy, but until they sit down and actually do it, and finish it, and edit it, I’ll let them stew in their own naivate. 🙂

    1. True…and usually if they -are- going to write, they would already be doing so. Then again, one never knows when the next Rowling will pop up, so I never want to discount them completely ;o)

  4. Wow…gosh it’s so nice to hear all these comments. It reaffirms that I’m not alone! My immediate response to some of the mundane articulations that “non-writers” so eagerly offer is simple…”Go for it…give it a try and please let me know how that works out for you!” Just like visual artists, I would never presume to offer advice or even halfhearted critiques…I can’t even draw stick men straight! So for those that think it’s no big deal to whip out a manuscript and become tomorrow’s next bestselling author…PLEASE, GO FOR IT! I send my best wishes,but please don’t come crying to me when, after a few years, you’re frustrated by the industrial process because you foolishly thought it was a piece of cake! HA! I will kindly console you with ‘Bless your heart!” as I turn and quietly smirk to myself, “TOLD YA SO!”

    1. There is that similarity to the visual arts there (which is one reason why I think cartoonists do such good ‘writer’ cartoons….they get us!)

  5. It’s much rarer to hear, “I wish I could put ten thousand hours into that activity so I could understand your struggles.” I think I’d be afraid of the person who said that, too, despite the empathy.

    Fewer readers say this to me, though. For whatever reason the tide has begun to shift to people being intimidated by how much I’ve written. It has its own unpleasantry to it.

  6. Since I write for children, I hear this sort of comment frequently. Or I am approached by people who’ve written one wonderful story for their grand kids that they want to share with the world. I always tell them to go for it, but they seldom do.

    1. Yes….my usual estimation is that if they haven’t found time to do it before, they probably won’t make time for it in the future.

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