Have you ever wondered how writers endure hours of solitude, 1,001 rejections, a myriad of bad reviews, and even worse insecurities? The not-so-surprising answer is humor. If we didn’t laugh at this writing life, we would go crazy.
So, here are some humorous dos and don’ts to lighten up the writing life and help those of you who don’t write to understand what makes writers just a little bit different.
1. Don’t shred your first rejection letter.
Do tuck it into your coat pocket on your way to the agent/editor’s house. When you get there, paste it to their front door using superglue.
Helpful hint: If they come out and catch you, tell them their form letter was elegantly written, but just not the right fit for you at this time.
2. Don’t move on to book two after 723 rejections.
Do keep re-writing that first scene (because the opening is mega-important) and what about the climax (this one is, well … anticlimactic), and then the middle is so saggy it needs a push-up bra. Oh, for goodness sakes, who says it’s wrong to literally work on one book forever?
3. Don’t speak out loud in public when plotting or writing dialogue.
Do mumble under your breath. This one is super important for suspense writers. If other people can’t decipher what you said, they can’t accuse you of plotting to kill someone (in the unfortunate event someone around you actually dies).
4. Don’t climb a 14,000-foot tall mountain just because your character does.
Do climb up to 6,000 feet, call it good, and make up the rest. We’re writers, people, not mountain goats. Making up stuff is what we do. J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) never rode a broomstick while chasing a ball around, at least I never saw that on the news (although I was shocked to discover Quidditch is an actual sport—seriously, look it up).
5. Don’t fight to the death when your publisher wants to change your book title.
Do smile and say, “When you change the name of your first born, I’ll change mine.” Yes, book babies count as actual children.
Helpful hint: If you celebrate book birthdays with cake and ice cream, and forget the birthdays of your other family members, you will probably be looking for a new place to live.
6. Don’t beat yourself up when your characters won’t listen to you.
Do mentally beat your characters up. A little gray matter fistfight never hurt anyone. So go ahead and release your inner Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games) — just make sure you win!
Writers are a funny bunch. We choose to make a living by coming up with wild possibilities and trying to make them believable. Why? Are we just crazy? A little. But mostly, it’s because stories are powerful. A great story can implant new ideas, change hearts, and give the reader a chance to live as someone else for a moment. This writing life might be crazy, but oh, what a wonderful life it is.