5 things not to say to a writer

Girl leaning on the wall in front of mirror with a cranky expression.
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

There’s some sort of common misbelief out there that writers are sensitive.  Writers, much like anyone else in the arts, take a lot of flack and negativity from just about everyone. These could be people online or people in our real lives.  As any professional writer will tell you, you’ll hear a lot more negativity than positivity out there.  The goal is to focus on the positivity, of course, but there are those lines that just somehow always manage to sneak through your thick skin and bug the heck out of you. Here are my own “most likely to punch you in the face” lines.

5 horrible things not to say to a writer you love

This list took me quite a while to whittle down, I won’t lie. There are a lot of comments that rub me the wrong way, whether they come from loved ones, the general public or other writers. These are what I consider to be the worst of the worst, the lowest of the low, the— right, you get it.  Ahem.  

  1. “That’s a great start!”: With the sole exception of when you’ve been tasked with reading an opening sentence or paragraph, you’ll never want to refer to a writer’s work as a “start”.  Whether it’s a first draft or something beyond that, they won’t want their hard work and effort to be seen as nothing more than a “start” in your eyes!
  1. “Oh, that reminds me of this line in this other book…”: Whether you mean in terms of plot, phrasing or just general sentiment, this is not a good thing to ever say to a writer. They’ve worked hard to create unique content and don’t want someone to immediately tell them it’s like something they’ve read elsewhere!
  1. “But, like, what’s your real job?”: Ugh.  Just, don’t.  As a professional writer, this is one of those questions that always bothers me. Writing is a real job!  Whether a writer earns fifty cents a month or five thousand dollars a month from writing, a writer is a writer!  Most writers do end up having to take “side gigs” to pay their bills, but writing is always the “real” job, without question. 
  1. “Why are you just sitting there staring at the page?”: Sometimes writing is not actually writing!  Sometimes it’s thinking through a process, or staring out the world and seeing the 13th dimension, etc.  Writing is a truly creative process that doesn’t make sense to anyone other than other creative spirits!
  1. “Why does it take you so long to write a paragraph/page/chapter/book?”: Words are hard and arranging them in just the right way can take a while even on a good day.  A paragraph, page, chapter or book takes as long as it takes, period.

Words can hurt writers too

Even though it’s a writer’s job to work with words, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be hurt by them!  If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re about to say one of these 5 lines to a writer you love, don’t!  It won’t go over the way that you meant it and it may just get a pen, book or even a computer thrown at you. Or, you know, punched in the face.  

When you’re talking to a writer, use your words wisely.  No other person will value them more than a writer, after all!  Got any of your own that make your blood boil?  Share them below!

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Kelterss View All →

Kelterss is an experienced freelance content writer and a published author based in New Brunswick, Canada. She writes website content, blog posts, and product descriptions for customers worldwide. Kelterss specializes in writing about mental health, fitness, and dog behaviour. Freelancing since 2014, Kelterss has earned over 3,200 reviews and has a 4.9/5-star rating.

3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I’m not a professional, but one thing that makes my heart drop is when someone says something is “well written.” I feel like you heard nothing and only noticed it was “well written” and that I failed in getting my message across.


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