If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all misjudged someone at some point in our lives. Fact: I have. Yes, I’m sorry. Yes, I’ll try not to do it again.

As a writer, I’ve also been on the receiving end of several misjudgments, five of which I’ve listed below. If you’re writer, then I hope you can laugh at this list. If you’re a friend of a writer, then please bring your sense of humor along and read the list below. Hopefully, it will help you to avoid saying or implying any of the statements below to your writer friends.

1) “You’ve been trying to publish your book for years. Maybe it’s time to do something else with your life.” Let’s breathe some perspective into this statement. Many bestselling novelists spend years, sometimes decades, shopping their books before a publisher takes interest. Yes, some writers break into the market right away, but many many many others have to tough it out. Bear in mind the nature of the product that writers are selling–books. I don’t know about anyone else, but it usually takes me 3-10 days to read a book, shorter if I have a day off and nothing to do but read.

When writers query agents and editors, we’re asking our recipients to take several minutes, sometimes hours, out of their obscenely busy lives to sit down and read our book. Bottom line: Sales in the publishing industry move slowly. Books take eons to write, eons to sell, eons to edit, and eons to get read and reviewed. That’s a lot of eons.

2) “You should stop complaining about your rejections. Think positively.”  Writers talk about their rejections because they learn about the market through those rejections. We hear “no” a lot, and each “no” helps us to get closer to “yes.” Sometimes we need to talk through those “no’s.” For writers, “no” isn’t always a bad thing. It hurts to hear it so much, but it helps us in the long run. Thanks for listening as we talk through the pain.

3) “I read your first draft. It was bad. Your book will never get published.” Writers sometimes get overly excited when they finish a project, and they want nothing more than to share that project with their friends and family. But, alas, they oftentimes end up sharing early drafts, and these tend to be raw and in need of polishing. Good writers will rewrite their drafts, but sadly, their friends may forever have the early versions burned into their minds. We’re sorry. Please don’t judge us by our drafts.

4) “I’ve heard freelance writers actually make money for what they write. You should give that a try. ” Freelance writing is a legitimate life pursuit, but telling a fiction writer that s/he should try to freelance is like telling a neurosurgeon that he should quit his job and take up aerospace engineering. Okay, my analogy isn’t exactly balanced, and some fiction writers actually do freelance on the side. But many times, success in either of these fields requires complete dedication to one or the other, not a part-time dedication to both.

5) “Writing, that sounds like a fun hobby, but don’t you think it’s time to get a real job?” Non-writers, kindly lock yourselves inside a room, one that has a bathroom in it, and generate 2-5K words a day from nothing but your God-given imagination. Then, come out of that room when you hit 80K words, but only for a day. After this day of freedom, return to your room and edit all 80K words into a sensical novel. When you have something sensical in hand, I’ll ask you if you still think that writing is a hobby. I’m not a psychic, but I’m pretty sure I already know what you’re going to say.

The list goes on, but I’ll stop there. Yes, people have actually said, or strongly implied, these statements to my face. No, I’m not mad at them, and I hope they’re not mad at me for the–many–silly things I’ve said over the years. And just so I’m crystal clear on this, I love my non-writer friends. I need them. I hug them. I love them, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

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