…Or, How to Survive Committing the Heinous Sin of Interrupting a Writer Perfecting Their Craft
(Tips for loved ones of said masters of the written word. Erm, ahem, yes, we are, don’t doubt us.)
The rest is silence. A good cue for my family is if I still have a playlist going. If the music has stopped, then probably you can dare to poke your head in and ever-so-gently ask if I might be close to finishing that chapter/editing/cruel character torture.
Bring snacks. Good ones. Don’t try to pacify us with potato chips when we’ve just had to kill off our misunderstood antagonist. Break out the cheesecake.
Find common ground. Don’t even consider uttering such a phrase as, “Aren’t you going to do anything else today?” (Under pain of infinite pain.) Draw up every last drop of compassion for your suffering artist who just cannot come up with that perfect adjective, and say, “Hey, I made pizza and ordered Netflix.”
Don’t pressure your resident writer to discuss their WIP. Sometimes there are disadvantages to your entire job being in your head for most of its creation. But we, as writers, often just need to get through that tough plot hole or breakup (the characters’) on our own. I know I do. If I really need to talk about it, I will. (Very unfortunately, my family is not much good at giving advice on which of my MCs I should ship, or how soon the shapeshifters should revert back to their human form.)
Don’t remind us of impending deadlines. True story: It was about 6 days before the end of NaNo, and my husband actually said, “Tick, tock, tick, tock.” Seriously, dude? Don’t you realize that now people from all over the world want to pelt you with mousepads?
Let us have first crack at illustrations/cover designs/editing. Please don’t start the conversation with, “Are you sure you want that backdrop? This arrangement? Calling that character Jenny instead of Eleanor?” Begin with, “Wow, your proof is here! You worked so hard! Whatever you think is best, dear.” (Yes, inspired by real events.)
Please keep pets away from the writer’s workspace (unless the owner of the space is cool with animal interference). How many of us have had to remove a cat/dog/hamster ball from the keyboard? Or had ink smudged across a word so badly that now it only looks like a paw print? Or lost a really good pen that became an improvised toy and soon disappeared under a couch or dresser?
Let the author come to the inevitable conclusion on his/her own. If it seems ridiculously obvious to the spouse/partner/sibling/child what needs to happen in the story, please do not say it out loud until the creator of the work does.