Monday, August 27, 2012

The Care and Feeding of Writers

If you are cursed blessed with having a close relationship with a writer, then there are some simple rules you might need to know to make life easier and more peaceful:

1. Don't mess with inspiration. If a writer suddenly cuts you off mid-conversation to scrawl down an idea, don't say a word. If he or she should forget a dinner date, then don't take it personally. Inspiration can hit at any moment, and usually at the most inconvenient moments. Let it happen, don't interrupt, or you might have to face something far worse—a writer with no inspiration.

2. Learn to use correct grammar, or expect to get corrected. Nothing is safe. Your writer will correct grammar on signage, in magazines, at the movies, etc. There's no sense getting upset about it. If you really want to make a difference to your writer's life, then don't ignore grammar, learn it.

3. Don't look for the off switch, because there isn't one. Writing is a 24 hour job. A writer is always thinking, processing and gathering every experience for future scenes or stories. Note: If you don't want your favourite show completely analysed to death, then wait to watch it when your writer is away.

4. Be a rock not a critic. Tell your writer on a daily basis that their work is worthy and they aren't crazy to pursue a writing career. Let them write. Let them read. Don't try to be their critique partner unless you want to summon The Monster (the less spoken about The Monster, the better). Instead, encourage your writer to find critique partners who are also writers.

5. Don't bother with to-do lists. If the lists have nothing to do with writing, then your writer will ignore them anyway. The cleaning may not always be perfect, the weeds might take over the garden, and food may not be eaten at regular hours, but a happy writer means a happy household.

6. Every writer needs a break. When your writer starts showing signs of cracking—mood swings, a deep sense of complete failure, staring for hours at an empty screen—whisk them away and give them new experiences to feed from. A day spa should do the trick, or dinner at a favourite restaurant, or a cruise. We aren't fussy.

Do you have any other suggestions to add to this survival guide?

103 comments:

  1. Ensure they are supplied with all the essential things like tea, coffee, wine and chocolate.

    Ensure they eat, sleep and excercise properly.

    :-)

    Take care
    x

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    1. Yes!! I don't know how I missed that rule!

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  2. I was correcting my wife's grammar before I became an author - you can imagine how much more so now!

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  3. I think I need to frame this and hang it in our house :) I would add "periodically bring coffee" Ha ha

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  4. I think I feel the need for a cruise coming on...

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  5. Wow, those are awesome rules! Writers should post them around their house.

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  6. My hubby needs to read this!! :) Before movies start, I generally have to promise not to figure things out out loud :)

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  7. Ha! Great list. I think we should all come with a tag that includes these instructions. I have learned to keep my mouth shut during movies, though. But in my head I'm deconstructing all the time, sometimes even saying the next line before they do on screen. :))

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    1. I've trained my hubby so now he joins me in the deconstruction of every movie we watch.

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  8. thats my wish list. i wish my family would read it!

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  9. what? No recipes, I thought this would be a cooking post judging from the title :PPP

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    1. The recipe for a happy writer: 1 cup of silence, 14 cups of no interruptions, 1 block of chocolate, and 37 buckets of encouragement.

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    2. and no coffee and sex for dessert??? :)

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    3. I don't drink coffee and I don't kiss and tell ;)

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    4. and we can always translate those 37 buckets of encouragement as the nocturnal encouragement :)) Although I'd probably need 38 of those :)

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  10. Don't let your ego get in the way of the rock.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

    http://www.shellysnovicewritings.blogspot.com/

    http://secondhandshoesnovel.blogspot.com/

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  11. This is surely the best help a writer can have, a caring support system.

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  12. Hi Lynda. Love these points, they are all true. I had an experience with #1 just a couple of hours ago and I had to cut my poor wife off mid-sentence whilr I jotted down a rush of inspiration!

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    1. see, they are the best moments, even if our partners may not think so, lol

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  13. This is great! I howled with laughter at numbers 1 & 2. (Don't bother mom if she's bent over the computer keyboard, typing in furious bursts and talking to herself. LOL) Terrific post, Lynda. :D

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  14. These are super great! I need to send these to my husband, poor thing. He keeps trying to find the "off" switch... LOL! Glad to know I'm not alone here~ <3

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  15. good advice---and i would add---write what excites you :)

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  16. Ha! I agree with a previous comment: Keep us well-supplied with wine and/or coffee. Ooh, and never question us when we say something doesn't work in a movie, show, or book. 'Cause then we'll tell you why! lol

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    1. so true!! your comment made me laugh out loud.

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  17. Thanks again, Lynda. I love: "A happy writer means a happy household!"

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  18. Great list. Could do with sticking this on the fridge!

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  19. THis is so funny! I need to print it out and distribute to my close friends and family!

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  20. Keep the major drama confined to novel.
    ~my hubby came up with that one...haha!

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  21. "Note: If you don't want your favourite show completely analysed to death, then wait to watch it when your writer is away."

    Hah! So true, Lynda. :)

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  22. Haha! I love this post! I think I'm ready for the spa!

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  23. Great tips! I'd add a ready supply of cold Diet Pepsi.

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  24. Do not ask where something is during work hours. Learn to be self-sufficient. :D

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  25. These are all awesome tips. I'd add to not worry about making sure the first draft is perfect, because no first draft is perfect (mine definitely aren't). Anyway, that's what revision is for. I'd also add to not surf the Internet while you're writing, because then you might end up spending more time watching Youtube videos than writing (or at least I have, sometimes).

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  26. Don't ask "Is the computer broken?" when dinner is ready on time. If there is a time.

    Lauren

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  27. Fantastic advice Lynda, and all so true!

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  28. Great list, I especially like number six, and the reference to the day spa!

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  29. I love this list. The only one that doesn't apply to me is number 2. I will correct grammar in writing, but never is speaking. It's the linguist in me :-)

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    1. Of course, apparently I won't even correct my own writing. Chalk that up to too much editing this weekend.

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    2. lol, I hear you. It's easy to correct grammar in someone else's writing, not so easy when it's our own.

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  30. The only one I don't agree with is number six. At least I have never reached that point. Just leave me alone with my computer with no interruptions. That's all I want.

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    1. Are you saying you'd say no to a cruise? ;)

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  31. Oh my word! So true! I'm often thankful my husband will step up and feed the children on occasion, even if it might only be lunch meat and crackers. Hey, at least they're not starving!

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  32. Haha this post made my day! It's great. I especially love number three. But with no off switch means lots of mini power naps. ;)

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    1. The mini power nap is a writer's best friend!

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  33. Love them all...think I'll put them on a card to hand out to family and friends. And of course, add chocolate and caffeine (any form)

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  34. Always be ready to assure. "No. You're writing is not crap. You can do this. Really."

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  35. A great list, Lynda!
    Made me feel a little guilty too (we had visitors one day and I felt a little irritated when they didn't go home early enough and I couldn't get to my computer...)

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    1. Your comment also made me laugh out loud. I can relate to this problem.

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  36. Yes, inspiration is sacred and comes and goes when she wants. it is best to be present when you're working.

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  37. Back massages! Definitely nightly or daily back massages! That is a must. In fact, get a bunch of writer friends together and form a long train, massaging each other's backs! :)

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  38. There's nothing worse than having someone chime in with their idea for your story while you're blurting out your idea.

    My son has a Thomas the Tank Engine book where the author thought commas were optional in compound sentences. NO!!!

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  39. Loved the post. Made me laugh, especially the part that we writers aren't fussy. I agree with all the points.

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  40. Yes to the off switch. Doesn't exist. Not at all.

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  41. I need to pin this on my front door! My grammar is not great so I wouldn't correct folk on that score, but the rest remains! :D

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  42. The Engineer corrects MY grammar. I guess that's what you get for being an immigrant operating in her second language...Though I WAS an English teacher. This is a constant source of "fighting" between us because guess what...he doesn't use correct grammar! I keep telling him he can't have it both ways.
    He doesn't get the writing thing at ALL. Even if he read this, he wouldn't get it. I did say engineer, right? Sigh. Oh well, I have other supporters and when he pisses me off I can write nasty poetry about him on my blog knowing he'll never see it ;-)
    I think I need a spa day. And a dinner out. And to find a way to organize all those scribbled notes. They're in notebooks, but i have too many notebooks, and can't remember which one I wrote it in. Organization! Not my strong suit.
    Great post, just what I needed to hear today.
    Tina @ Life is Good

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    1. oh yes, the notebook dilemma! I do the same. It's better to write it down and lose it for a while, than to not write it down and lose it forever.

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  43. Fabulous! My husband gets so annoyed when I correct his grammar. I'm forever and always saying, "It's NOT where is he at? It's where is he!" :) Drives me insane!

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  44. Love your post today. It's perfect and the only list I'm going to pay attention to!

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  45. Good tips, Lynda. I even catch myself correcting the announcements that are read on a Sunday morning at church.

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  46. "...or a cruise. We're not fussy." - haha!

    It's all so true. My friends and family are well used to my odd fits and starts and whenever I'm late for a dinner date (which is every single time) they know the explanation is always going to be "I got carried away writing..."

    Jai

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  47. I love this! Actually laughed out loud at #3. Yup, definitely no off switch.

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  48. I laughed out loud at The Monster. Husband has met The Monster. I think I'll print this out and hang it on the fridge :)

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    1. Alas, my hubby is all too familiar with The Monster ;)

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  49. Nothing to add at the moment, but #3 is spot-on. So, so true.

    Great list!

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  50. I'm guessing number three is why I have insomnia. Great list!

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  51. So wise. Thanks from the writers out here in the 'sphere. :-)

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  52. I think you nailed that pretty good. Maybe I should print several copies and scatter them discreetly about our house. I don't know how many times I tweeted this link today, but I was tweeting it before I actually came to the post. You did well on this one.

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    1. hehe, thanks, Lee. I appreciate the tweets.
      Oh, and make sure you don't scatter those copies too discreetly about the house. You want to make sure they are found ;)

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  53. number 1 is so very true. I seem to get ideas on the way to work but when I start scribbling them down everyone is suddenly extremely interested in what I'm doing and before long I've lost the thread of the idea totally.

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  54. Love It! This is so good it's framable.
    I need a poster size in view of everyone who enters my home :)
    Xx

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  55. Ha! Now where can I find the person that fits all these requirements? ;)

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  56. Ha! I could send this to a few people. I'd add to have lots of patience. Realize and remind the writer it's supposed to take years. And years. and. years...

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  57. Author's ...like Condoleeza Rice?
    How about Dick Cheney and Karl Rove?
    Did you know many artists call their dogs " Rockstar"?
    I bet you did.
    You're in that loop of " Hollywood Carpet Cleaning".
    With Car- Man.
    And Re- Me.
    And they all write at Gore - Smith Farms.
    With Marijan Rosen.
    If you could give me the Technodisco of Cattel , especially for Germany , Yemen, El Salvador, I might go global.

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    1. oh, Lyndy, you've got trolls too :)))))) Such creative loonies ....

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    2. Yeah, it's a tad annoying. I may have to turn off anonymous commenting. Siigh.

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  58. I'd like to write about AK shops.
    And I was hoping you could suggest some avenues .
    Someone spoke of " Eynksho " and said they've got 18.
    I think it was somebody by the name of Praseodym 666.
    Yak USA 0.
    And they have a company called " Yellow Dot Clan".
    They said Texas likes to Playdota with Zetas and Ace.
    Would you happen to know ?
    And can radio DJ's like Djay. Co. UK Stove , assist?
    With companies in SA like Telsagun?
    Billy Gunn in Eadiitorl Dlihget said they could.
    What do you say?
    You're the pro .
    I bet you 've even met Sly and Pitt!

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    1. I bet she met Schwartzy as well :)

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  60. Aannd, link sent to hubby. Maybe that will help him understand a little. One hopes. But not too much, because I'm too much of a realist to think he'll ever get it :) FUn post!!

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  61. Brilliant rules, Lynda! I especially love the one about the monster!!!! Can't have that on the loose, eh? Great post!

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  62. Yup, sounds like the wisdom of my wife, who kindly deals with my writing passions. I find a compliment sandwich always helps the truth go down, a little pro and a little con about any work gives both confidence to the author, but also much needed info about suggested changes:)

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  63. Ha! Love your title and post here! Yes, these are excellent rules to live by. Every writer should post them on the refrigerator for their family to learn from. Yes, and add "keep supplied with chocolate."

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    1. chocolate is a must. I don't know why I forgot that one from the list.

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  64. Don't know any serious writers in real life but I'll keep this in mind when I meet one. :P

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  65. Oh I so agree breaks are so important to creativity and stimulation without them there's no fuel for your writing.

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  66. I love this list, Lynda! It's so true! Thanks :)

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  67. Awesome! So True! #5 I have to show to my husband ;)
    I have one to add (not sure if it's been said). If the writer nods yes to a question you're asking, it doesn't mean they're listening.
    My kids have learned they get what they want if they ask when I'm writing LOL!

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    1. lol! I love your added point. So funny and so true! People who know me well ask me to look at them so they know I'm listening (still doesn't guarantee it if I'm in the middle of an inspirational brain storm, though)

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  68. Great list.

    I don't like it when people think I'm at home doing nothing...I'm writing.

    I also don't like people pressuring me to read something of theirs or asking me to edit their essays and college papers--just because I read and write a lot doesn't mean I want to spend hours doing someone else's work.

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  69. Awesome. I will share this with my family :)

    ........dhole

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  70. I would add providing intellectual stimulation to this PG-13 version of the list. Providing sexual stimulation for your writer should be added to the R rated version of the list. I'll let your imagination wander about what form that and the NC-17 version of this list would take.

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  71. Wish I could find the off switch sometimes!

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  72. Awesome post. I am printing your lost now for my husband. Thank you. If only the rest of the world had access to your brainchild? I am impressed.

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  73. I've stopped apologizing for correcting J's spelling and grammar. I feel it's better he gets used to it now than be surprised later on ;)

    Great list, Lynda. I've bookmarked it to pass on to J.

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