I’ve been writing for a while now and I have noticed some comments seem to get under my skin, so I thought I’d write a post for anyone wondering what things to say or not to say to support someone in a creative field.
Before I start, I’d like to say that I understand people’s curiosity when it comes to writers. It’s not a ‘typical’ profession and it’s something a lot of people want to do. Being asked about writing doesn’t bother me, but when the questions borderline on rude, then it does.
Here is my list of things never to ask or say to a writer (or to at least think about before you speak):
1. How much do you earn? First of all – RUDE! It should be a rule that you don’t ask people how much they earn in general. I might start asking people to show me their wage slip first whenever they ask me this and see how they like it…
2. You’re getting a lot of rejections. Why don’t you just self publish? For some people, self publishing is their first step but I know a lot of writers who want the backing and support of a publishing house. People think self publishing is so easy, but you have to fund and market the book yourself. Plus, some self published writers face snobbery from other writers/agents/publishers if they have self published and it can impact future publishing offers. It really isn’t an easy ‘just do it yourself’ decision, so please don’t just offer self publishing as a solution every time we get a knock back and act like we are getting in the way of our own dreams by not doing it.
3. Why don’t you just write for a paper or something to get your name out there? Trust me, if it was that easy I would! There are so many talented writers out there and we are all chasing the same few opportunities. Telling us to write for a worldwide magazine or a national newspaper is like telling someone who likes politics to become the next prime minister – it’s simply not that easy.
4. It must be so fun just doing a hobby all day! Writers writer for the love of it, but sometimes writing isn’t fun. It can be incredibly frustrating to read the same two lines again and again and not quite know how to fix them, but we do it because we love to write. On that note, just because we love to write it doesn’t mean we are just ‘messing around’ or doing a hobby. People say to find a job you love, so why dismiss writers as having a frivolous career when that’s the thing that they love?
5. You’ve been told no a lot. Maybe it’s time to give up. A lot of writers I know don’t write for the recognition of it – we do it for the love of it. And yes, we get a lot of rejections. It would be wonderful to become the next J K Rowling, but the reality is that it won’t happen for 99.9% of us. We’re okay with that (even if we still deep down hope we will be the next big thing…) but you giving up on us and telling us to forget our passion hurts. Writing is an incredibly competitive industry and things like social media followers count more than you would think, so support the wannabe author that you know however you can.
At the end of the day, everyone in the world is working towards something or chasing some sort of dream. You might not understand it or want it for yourself, but the least you could do is respect it.
If you are someone out there chasing your dream then good for you. Be proud of yourself. It’s not easy to go for what you want. It’s not easy to overcome setbacks, but you’re doing it. That in itself is an amazing thing.
What things do people say about your career that annoy you?