Ten Tips for Surviving The Writer

29 Apr

Being friends with a writer, or worse, living with one, can be quite a challenge. So if you’re a Bystander, here are some tips that come in handy when dealing with The Writer.


1)      The Do Not Disturb Sign

Is not an actual sign that writers hang on their doorknob. However, it is still a sign and if you know your writer pretty well, it will be as clear as a neon sign. Signs that tell you not to disturb this writer include grunting as a reply, lack of make-up/shaving of the face, squinting when seeing someone who looks all shiny and decent, ten empty mugs on desk, snacks on desk, post-its EVERYWHERE, loud music on, staring at the ceiling, staring at the laptop screen, staring out of the window, rapid blinking and sighing. Seriously, these are all signs. So. Back. Off. Unless you have more snacks. Then put them down and slowly back away.


2)      The Rant

When writers have a new idea for a story or an amazing new twist on an older story, they will inevitably hop over to you and unleash the tidal wave of words associated to this development. The most important thing to do when The Rant is unleashed is just this: LISTEN and NOD. Because listening is not enough, the writer needs validation that they are not talking out of their…toes and simple nodding will do. Smiling won’t hurt either, but not too much or they’ll think you’re making fun of them and nobody wants a sad writer. Because they will write about you. And it won’t be pretty. In any case, let them talk because it will either lead them to be sure that their brilliant idea is brilliant or they will discover a mistake that they would not have discovered until waaaay later when they’ve already started writing and putting sweat, blood and tears into their words. The Rant is an important process that can only be done when someone they trust is nearby, so be honoured and just LISTEN and NOD.


3)      The Stalker

Every writer has the Stalker-Mode which they will engage when they are in crowded areas as to generate inspiration which will be stored in their minds under a special file. This mode will include eavesdropping, staring and questioning of the subjects. When you aware of this, let the writer do his or her thing and perhaps you could even help. It is important for the writer to see and hear enough so that they continue to have a solid base on which they can draw their characters. Sure, a lot of interesting people live in their hearts, but sometimes reality hides some gems as well. I would, however, refrain from actually calling the writer a stalker, since this will make the writer feel like they want to punch you in the face.


4)      The Meh Mood I

The Meh Mood I is the mood that comes when writer’s block is not far behind. It is the phase before a new story. The one where the writer feels the characters knocking on the door but he or she doesn’t know how to unlock the door. The story is a candle, but the matches are lost. And the writer is there in the cabin all alone, not sure where to find the key or the matches. This will make the writer depressed and he or she will feel useless and stupid and eat a lot and sleep a lot. Then watch a lot of TV and tweet about writing without actually writing and therefore feel more useless. It’s a vicious cycle, both mean and never ending. The only solution for the Bystander is to play the role of the cheerleader without adding pressure. Make the writer feel proud and awesome and let him or her know that the key and the matches are in the hands of the characters and the story itself. Sometimes all the writer can do is sense the story’s presence and wait until its ready to open up to the writer.


5)      The Scribbler

At this time the writer is beginning to taste the words of the story, though the writer does not have them all. This is when the writer starts scribbling in notebooks, playing with post-its and leaving pages of passages all over the place. The writer wants to write, but the story isn’t quite ready. The door is ajar, but not open. This is a totally normal phase. The creative brain is preparing for the story, setting up the decorations, making the bed, stocking the fridge with food. It is nearly time to invite the new guest in and since it will be staying for a while, it will also take a while to get it ready. For the Bystander it would be ideal to hand the writer new notebooks, pens or post-its so that the writer feels even more excited to get ready and therefore will subconsciously speed up the process. The writer is more powerful than he or she thinks.


6)      The Man with the Moustache

This man stands in the corner of the writers mind, with a hat on and a cane, as well as a suit that is without flaws, and he asks the writer a lot of questions. Are you sure that comma should go there? Are you sure you spell it ‘definitely’? How can he kill her with a hammer and not have blood on his clothes? Wait…isn’t that a plot hole? Are you sure she has brown hair? That’s a cliché, isn’t it? Shouldn’t you begin a new paragraph? Isn’t that stupid? Maybe the chapter should end here? Is that a word? Are you even a writer? With some writers he shows up during the writing itself, with some writers during rereading/editing. In any case, this moustached man will lead to…


7)      The Meh Mood II

This mood mostly arrives to the writer after the story has been written and will make the writer question his or her story and most importantly his or her writing abilities. This mood will be worse than Meh Mood I and will involve more complaining, sighing, snacking, wailing and possibly fake crying and purchasing of kittens with tiny hats on. The Bystander has the same role as with the first Meh Mood, but in this case the Bystander will need additional help in the form of muffins, chocolate, alcohol, hugs and borrowed baby animals. Please note the ‘borrowed’ for the writer will want to keep said baby animals. Cheerleading must also be taken to a whole new level and might require the Bystander to actually dress up and do a little dance. Writers like watching people dance. The sillier, the better. Don’t forget encouraging words, because the writer needs those too. Words are important for the writer, they carry them in their hearts.


8)      The Happy Deer

This is a sign that the writer feels good about their story and his or her ability to write. This won’t last long, so it’s in the best interest of everyone to enjoy it while it lasts. Celebrate like crazy and share in the happiness of the writer because it’s these moments that are just as important as the meh moments. The writer may act like a happy deer on drugs in a forest made of cotton candy, but you already knew that writers are weird, so embrace it.


9)      The Eager Reader

Every writer needs to know what has been written. Whether they are well-written or poorly written, the writer will learn from them. Once the writer feels the Well of Words has dried up, he or she will dive into books and in this phase it’s important that you leave the writer alone to soak up the words. In case of an emergency, break window and throw the reading writer out. But under no circumstance interrupt their reading. You’ll thank me later.


10)   The Ride

Living with a writer might not be easy, but darn it, it’s a hell of a ride and totally worth it. So the last tip is: ENJOY. Writers are a special kind of people in the truest sense of the word. Having a writer keeping you close is special indeed, after all, they are good at being alone and enjoy spending time with their characters more than you know.



3 Responses to “Ten Tips for Surviving The Writer”

  1. Franny Marie April 29, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

    Reblogged this on Franny Marie and commented:
    This is utterly amazing!
    Agree on all points!

  2. kquintana April 29, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

    Absolutely hilarious! Thanks for sharing!

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