When Living With a Writer

By a Writer

Ah, writers. What strange creatures we are.

Let’s be honest, almost every occupation has it’s quirks and with those quirks comes pros and cons. Writers are no exception.

If you are not a writer, then you may look at someone who is and be a little daunted. Or maybe you are currently living with one and can’t seem to understand why they still haven’t taken out the trash even though you asked five times.

Worry no more. As a writer, I am going to let you in on how some of our minds work. I’ll give you some tips on how to cope with some of our antics, but at the same time, know that a relationship is a two way street. It can’t just be you putting in all the work. For this, I’ll also include a few things we writers can do to help as well.

1: Sometimes we forget things… a lot.

It’s not that we don’t care. Most times, we really do care. But our minds tend to be working a hundred mile an hour constantly. This happens because we are constantly reaching for new or creative ideas to advance our stories or build our worlds. We become solely invested in our own imagination that at times, things will slip.

What you can do: be patient. And honestly, a friendly reminder every now and then wouldn’t hurt.

What we can do: Slow down. Also, learn to carry a pen and pad around (or some other writing device) and WRITE THINGS DOWN! You may think you’ll remember on your own, but trust me, you’ll see one picture on the internet and suddenly find yourself involved in building an entirely new planet and then before you know it, your loved one is stuck washing the dishes by themselves. Again.

2: We get agitated by criticism (yeah, we do).

It is said that if you’re a writer, you need to have a very thick skins. This is true. Does that mean we always have thick skins? No.

I mentioned this in one of my previous posts The Jigsaw Heart (https://thearcaneauthor.blog/2019/01/16/the-jigsaw-heart/) . A writer’s work is sacred. Sometimes laced with our own personal feelings, struggles, and pain. Criticism can feel like a personal attack.

What you can do: Be kind, but honest. Think about things you’ve created. Think how you would want people to respond. Always be truthful, but you don’t need to be savage. Also make sure you’re giving constructive criticism, not just trying to pick apart their work for the sake of picking it apart.

What we can do: Stop being so sensitive. Not everyone is trying to bring you down or change who you are. Most people don’t understand how invested you are in your work, so give them a break. Besides, they’re trying to help. Pay attention to what they’re saying, it may just be the advice you need.

3: We can be terrible with our time

Writers who take their career seriously may spend every bit of their spare time locked up in their little spaces and typing away. This can frustrate some of their friends and family because as much as they want you to be successful, they always would like to see what your face looks like when it doesn’t have a screen in front of it.

What you can do: Schedules are useful. If you want to spend time with your writer spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, etc, then you might need to actually schedule time for this. Remind your writer that they need to take a break. It’s good for them and it’s good for you.

What we can do: We can also use a schedule. We need to step away. Take a break. Get out of our own heads. Set time aside to spend with those we love. Go for a hike. Ride a bike. Get coffee with your friends. You’ll feel refreshed coming back into your project and may even find it will help you work better.

Just keep in mind, writers are human to (even though we don’t always act like it). It’s much like having any career really. We invest a lot into what we do. Just be understanding of that and at the same time, don’t be afraid to give us a little shove in the right direction. And writers, don’t get mad when they do it.

Writing is life, but life isn’t writing. Remember that and go spend some time with the people who care about you. You’ll thank me later.

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A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people

Thomas Mann

A Bit of Advice

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When it comes to writing, everyone has their two cents which they are more than happy to give you. People who haven’t written anything creative since the ninth grade when they were forced to by their World Literature teacher will be telling what you should or shouldn’t do and how you should do it.

Since I started writing about seven years ago, I’ve done plenty of research. I’ve read article after article, books, magazines, anything from Writer’s Digest to personal blogs from successful authors. I took it all in. What did I find out? Well,

1) everyone has an opinion

2) the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I believe people on the internet are actually trying to help, I really do, but let’s be honest, no matter what subject we’re talking about, there is a ton of bad advice out there.

The problem with giving advice is that people tend to think if it works for them, it will work for everyone. Unfortunately that is not the case. Even published authors sometimes get set in their own ways, not realizing there is more than one way to write a successful story.

Here’s the thing. There’s good advice out there. But just because it’s good doesn’t mean it’s good for you. So how you do know whether or not the advice is worth taking.

I say give everything a try, as long as it doesn’t blunt your creativity. Maybe it will work for you, maybe it won’t. In seven years I’ve have a lot of failed experiments which I learned from, until I found a method comfortable for me. I’m far from knowing everything there is to writing and am always seeking out advice, but I can say that I’ve learned to take everything with a grain of salt.

Sometimes people are wrong. And that’s it. But you shouldn’t blow off the advice you get because many times it will be helpful. Just don’t take it as gospel.

So what is “good advice”?

Good advice is anything that will help you grow. Sometimes it’s not meant for you, because your a unique individual with your own style, but it’s good to try out the different techniques. Good advice will tell you what you can do, how to do it, and still leave room for you to put your own spin on it. Good advice wants you to be the best you that you can be.

Bad advice will probably give you a list of things not to do, never allow you to expand, and will over complicate everything in your life. For example, I read an article that named all the ways you shouldn’t begin a story. The reason I say it was bad advice was not only because it was subjective (based on the writer’s own person preferences) but because it was so extensive that if left you with virtual only one way to begin a story- the same kind of beginning they used in their book.

Imagine that.

How do I find good advice?

Read. Read. Read.

When you’re done reading, try.

Try. Try. Try.

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Play around with the different methods and techniques. Try it out a bit here and there. But don’t let anyone take your story and turn it into their own. You’re the author. You have your style and they have theirs. And that’s good. If not the world would be boring.

Just remember when you’re given some advice to keep in mind that person is probably trying to help. Try not to get defensive or dismiss everything they say, you’ll miss a lot of good advice that way. However, don’t take everything too seriously. You’ll find what works for you. Until then, don’t be afraid to try (and fail). You’ll learn a lot from the experience and you might even have a bit of fun on the way.

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own

Bruce Lee