Ten Things You Should Never Say to a Writer

A friend and fellow writer found this painful-yet-all-too-true list on Pinterest. The proper title is “10 Things People Say to Creative Writers (but shouldn’t)” by Graphospasm. Having personally been a victim of Item #6 (“Have you been published yet?”) this list struck an ouchy chord with me, reminding me that a lot of people who aren’t writers don’t “get it.” In many cases, they don’t know what will hurt our feelings, what will make us bristle, and what is just plain RUDE.

I have no doubt the person who asked me whether I’d been published wasn’t trying to make me feel bad. Yet, he did. I was not published at that time, and I can still remember the feeling of my face turning red as I tried to stammer my defense: “Well, to get published, you really have to submit aggressively. Like, a lot of stories, to a lot of different publishers, and so far I haven’t really done that…” He was not impressed. Cue horrible feelings of failure.

Looking back, I feel bad that I felt bad. There was no reason for me to. I should have recognized that this individual simply didn’t understand the truth about writing (or publishing, for that matter), and made an uneducated remark.

The truth is, it’s HARD to get published. 85-90% of it is LUCK – the right story hitting the right market at the exact right time. Not being published isn’t a sign of failure, and it’s certainly no indication that your work isn’t good. What’s more, some writers don’t even WANT to get published. It’s not even on the agenda for them. One of my best friends has been writing short stories since grade school, and, to my knowledge, he has never once submitted one for publication. His joy comes from the writing itself. From having created something. From sharing that creation with his friends. From watching our “EWWWW!” faces and hearing our belly laughs as we read.

I wish I’d read this list a long time ago, before that encounter left me beet-faced and stammering. And, more importantly, I wish I’d read Graphospasm’s wonderful, pithy responses and more serious-toned explanations for each item. Just like getting your flu shot, you can inoculate yourself against rude (or well-meaning-but-ignorant) people by being prepared for the comments you might receive when you tell folks you’re a writer – and even having some funny answers ready!

So go check out this cringe-worthy list – plus the awesome responses the author and commenters came up with:


Hold your head high, be proud of your craft, and have fun building up your immunity!





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