Guilty as charged! Yes, gentle reader, I’ve committed several of these sins over the years but pledge to avoid them in future! Many thanks to multilingual author and mentor Lee Kofman for helping us all clean up our act. This fine and entertaining list was created by Lee and appeared on her blog The Writing Life on January 21, 2015 and previously on Writers Victoria from the land down under. Enjoy —
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Even a writer is not an island. Most of us mix with other writers, either out of want or necessity. However, unsupervised encounters between writers may result in unintended injuries – external and internal. So here are some suggested rules for harm minimisation when associating with fellow scribes.
1. Don’t tell a writer suffering from writer’s block that you have never understood this concept, because for you writing is so effortless that you often feel like a medium through whom your characters speak.
2. Don’t give your work to someone to read and say “enjoy”, even if personally you find your story highly entertaining.
3. Don’t give your published (or unpublished) book as a birthday gift – even if you’re certain that mankind will be infinitely enriched by reading it.
4. Don’t ask other writers when the book they’re writing will be published, unless you are prepared for an untimely death.
5. Don’t email, tweet or facebook other writers (or anyone, for that matter) asking them to buy your book. And if you really must do so, don’t use CAPITAL LETTERS in your requests.
6. Don’t ask writers more successful than you to refer you to their agent, at least not during the first decade of your acquaintance.
7. While staying in a shared writers’ retreat, don’t suggest a night of readings, then go first, read half your novel, yawn, say you’ve had too much wine and go to bed.
8. On that last point, when going to a writers’ retreat, don’t show up with bottles of wine and finish them all by yourself.
9. Still at a retreat – don’t dominate the dinner conversation by discussing your dilemma of which publisher to choose out of the twelve fighting over your book.
10. Don’t answer questions about your book by saying “You’ll have to read the book to find out”.
11. Don’t tell memoirists that you find memoir writing self-indulgent.
12. Don’t tell novelists that contemporary novels suck.
13. Don’t tell poets anything. Of all creative species, poets live the shortest and most troubled lives – there is research to prove this. I must reinforce this point: tell poets nothing. Just listen. They need you.
“Writers’ Social Etiquette” reposted with much gratitude.