The Secret Life of Writers


Come closer. A little closer. Okay that’s good. Sit down and get ready for scandalous revelations. Get ready to hear things about writers you’ve never known before, or wanted to know, really.

Writers, I see you lurking back there. Show this to your husbands, mothers and grandparents. It will explain your inexplicable, often worrying behavior.

Here it is, all you’ve ever wanted to know. Dirty Writer Secrets.

Secret #1:

Being married/friends/family to a writer is hard.

Sometimes we get that vague look in our eyes when you’re talking to us. It’s not that we think you’re boring, it’s that we just had a really fantastic idea for the story we’re working on, and while you’re talking, we’re off in the star mines of Zibit 5, fighting space crud with out laser guns, or frolicking with unicorns through fields of daisies. It’s not that we don’t find you interesting, it’s actually very likely that you inspired us. You talked about frolicking, or space guns, or it was just the way you pushed your hair out of your face that made us think about the perfect main character to GO frolicking with unicorns.

See, it’s your fault.

Secret #2:

We may leave vague, sometimes terrifying post-it notes around the house that say things like, “Should I kill off Bob?”.

Please do not be alarmed. All casualties are fictional.

Secret #3:

Our internet searches will curl the hair on your big toes.

If you find us searching things like, “How to completely dissolve a body in acid” or “How to cut up a body into small pieces” or “How fast does it take for a stabbed person to die?”, I assure you we are not considering bumping you off. We are merely dreaming up the best, most effective and delightfully unpleasant ways to kill off our character.

I’m not sure if that’s much more comforting.

Secret #4:

Our passion makes us kind of crazy.

Keep in mind that you may find us curled up in the fetal position sobbing at any time. You may also find us doing an Irish jig in the middle of the living room and gleefully throwing small scraps of manuscript paper around while shouting “confetti!” and a number of other strange behaviors I can’t even begin to describe.

The truth is, writing is full of ups and downs. Even more so if you are trying to get an agent, or you’re on sub, or trying to promote your books.

One day your writer will be on top of the world, excited and happy and full of confidence, the next day they will be binge eating chocolate and marathoning the show “Girls” all day. We are unpredictable like that. But that’s why you love us, right?

I recommend keeping an emergency stash of chocolate and Supernatural DVDs on hand.

Secret #5:

We will never have enough books.

What’s that, your bookshelves are jammed full? Your computer desk is being taken over? I’m sorry to tell you that won’t ever stop. It will only get worse. You can buy your writer a kindle andΒ pray, but that’s it. Some of us will never be sold on ebooks, others will embrace them completely.

Whatever form they come in, we can never get enough of them.

Secret #6:

We are all secretly jealous.

Maybe it’s that writer friend who got a book deal. Maybe it’s the person on twitter who keeps bragging that she got an agent. Maybe we bash Fifty Shades of Grey just aΒ little too loudly. Whatever it is, there’s always something.

Underneath our pasty skin we are all secretly a beautiful shade of green. When you want something so badly and you see other people getting it before you, it’s hard not to let the little monster come out.

We all struggle with it.

Secret #7:

We want it to be “all about the art”.

But that’s an impossible standard to have when you have to do inconvenient things like, y’know, eat. The result of this is that many of us are a little confused, a little torn. Are we “sell outs” if we want to make money? Should we be writing commercial stuff, or just what we think of as “art”?

Do we feel fulfilled in our art, or do we pay the rent? Can we do both?

Secret #8:

We picture our books as movies.

Yes, we daydream about hitting it big. We think about who would play our main character, what we would wear to the opening night. What we would say when the TV people interviewed us. All that good stuff.

We dream big all the time. Every day. That’s why rejections make us cry.

Secret #9:

We are scared to admit what we do.

Most people don’t flinch at the question, “And what do you do?”. Only a writer spends fifteen minutes at the doctor’s office deciding if they should put “writer” under the “occupation” section. Like the doctor is going to pop out and scream “Fake!” at you after he’s read it.

But we get theseΒ looks when we tell people. Like they’re humoring us. Or worse, they ask “What have you written?” like they expect us to confess we’ve written the Harry Potter series, surprise! Or the better question, “Have you written anything I’ve heard of?” which makes a writer want to melt into a pile of sludge and sink into the cracks in the floor boards.

“Have you heard of Fifty Shades of Grey?”

“Oh my God, you wrote that?”

“No, just wondering if you’ve heard of it.”

Secret #10:

We know we shouldn’t read mean comments. We do it anyways.

Writer’s are drawn to comments and reviews like a moth to a flame. We know we’ll probably fall into the fire and our tiny bodies will shrivel up and we’ll die in agony.

But the fire is so fascinating.

There’s a mean comment on our blog post. We’re going to read it twenty times. Agonize over it. Eat a bucket of ice cream and then read it again.

We get a nasty review on goodreads, or a writing site. We can’t look away. It dictates the outcome of our entire day. Sometimes our week.

You can tell us to “just let it slide” or “just ignore it”, but we are suckers for punishment. It’s important what this one person thinks. It’s so important that we rage at the computer and yell lots of mean names at the screen. Once you get tired of listening to us ranting, feel free to walk away. We’ll tell the cat what a knucklehead this person must be.

Have you seen enough now?

I’m sorry I had to show you that. But now you can go into the world better prepared to deal with writers. To deal with your wife/husband/friend/family member.

Remember: Chocolate, Supernatural DVDs, wine.

These are your tools. Use them wisely


That should do it.

photo credit: <a href=””></a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=””>FUNKYAH</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;


21 responses to “The Secret Life of Writers

    Me and my dad were reading this together and he kept shouting ‘It’s True! It’s True!” every five minutes xD

    Here’s from my dad:
    Enjoyed reading this… all true as I see my daughter everyday…

    I guess my internet searches are going to be looked upon with much trepidation in the future LIKE NOOOOO MY EYES WHAT IS SHE READING. xDDD

    I’m not up to full-scale yet but SOON

  2. Exactly! This post cracked me up, especially #2 and #9. My husband isn’t a reader or a writer, so often there are some misunderstandings towards what I need and how I operate!

  3. Oh this is so true! I can’t tell you how many times I start ranting a monologue in front of my family about which is the best way to die. They just kind of look at me. Dad has finally gotten used to it and he just goes with it now. I’ll say, “Hanging or electric chair?” Dad: “How about drawn and quartered?”

  4. Ha – the post-it notes, omg, yes. I wonder what my husband thinks of my post-it notes – the one that comes to mind was “Why do you do everything she says? Are you fucking her?”

    • Hehe. That must have been slightly confusing. I have definitely left notes around like “Bob needs to die” or “Susan gets stabbed”. Fun stuff. πŸ˜›

  5. You have just described almost all my weird habits in a nutshell. Like, seriously.
    And even though I write, I don’t really consider myself a ‘writer’ (well, I do on the inside, but it’s not like I would tell anyone that [which of course, is #9]) ^_^
    You made me laugh, and even made me feel confident. Thank you πŸ˜€

  6. #8…yes. Sometimes, I envision the movie playing in my mind, and it keeps going past what I’ve written…in the past, I’ve finished a chapter here and there based on what is playing in my head.

    Does that mean I get to market my story as a novelization of a blockbuster film? Because it’s a hit movie…at least, in my mind.

  7. You outlined various points that we writers are afraid to admit. When people ask me what do I do, it takes me a while to respond to them, and when I do sometimes, I lie. I think writers are only celebrated by others when they become successful. Only avid readers and fellow writers can appreciate the everyday writer.

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