Supporting the Crazy, Day 2

Katherine Longshore 6 Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I love the title to Donna’s post yesterday. All of us, whether we write novels of 100,000 words or more, or 200-word articles, or something in between, need the people around us to support the crazy.

 “But how?” The people around us cry in agony. “When every day brings something new? When every minute brings a new kind of crazy?”

It takes talent, skill, insight, and instinct. Those of you who live with writers probably already have some practice with this.  However, I am here to offer a few pointers to people interested in supporting the crazy.

1.     Be prepared to ride the roller coaster. Every day brings a new kind of crazy because every day brings a new high or low. Highs include a thousand-word day, a new inspiration, or sometimes just a great word. Just one word. Lows include computer malfunctions, carpal tunnel syndrome, inspiration blockage, and word counts in the negative numbers.

2.     Be available to listen. Even if you don’t understand what your is talking about, just listen. And you have to listen well, to know what to do with what you hear. Sometimes all a writer needs to do is talk. About his characters, about his plot problems, about his excitement over that one word. When this is the case, you don’t need to say anything. In fact, it’s better that you don’t. But then there are other times when your writer is actually soliciting your input. Usually she clues you in on the situation by actually asking a question, such as “what do you think?” When this is the case, it’s better to say something.  Carefully.

3.     Be aware. If your writer is cranky or snappish or out of sorts, it could be a clue that the writing is not going well. Or not going at all. This is a sensitive time. Your writer may need wine or chocolate or fresh air. A safe choice is to suggest a trip to the bookstore.  That always helps.

4.     Be willing to celebrate even the smallest victories. There are the big things. Signing with an agent, getting a book deal, getting written up in Publishers Marketplace. But because it takes so long for so many of us to achieve those things, it is especially important to celebrate the small things. The single sentence. The exquisite word. The new inspiration. Typing a single sentence after a long dry spell is a reason for joy. Typing the words “the end.”

If you remember these things, you are well on your way to being a great support to your writer. You may never understand the crazy, but it will make it easier to live with.

I leave you with just a few very important suggestions. Take them or leave them, they may not apply to your writer.  But chances are something similar will.

Don’t speak to your writer when he is at the computer and things are going well.

Don’t speak to your writer when she is at the computer and things are going badly.

Don’t ask your writer how her day went if she’s cleaning the toilets or scrubbing the baseboards. You can guess that it didn’t go well.

Stick up for your writer when others ask why he’s writing.

Never, ever raid your writer’s chocolate stash.

And remember, a writer often just needs to be loved. But if you’re reading this, you’re probably already pretty good at that.


"Don’t ask your writer how her day went if she’s cleaning the toilets or scrubbing the baseboards. You can guess that it didn’t go well."

Katy, even the worst writing day will not provoke in me the urge to clean toilets. However, swiffing the floors is a favorite coping strategy of mine. To my husband: beware the dust-free surfaces.

I'm really enjoying these posts about living with a writer! We are all so neurotic & nutty.

What? Are you calling US nutty?

PS I have to agree with Eve Marie on this one. I'm never driven to cleaning toilets.

Wonderful post. Since the writer I live with is fantastic about supporting me whether I'm up or blocked, you've given me a kick in the pants: This morning I will replenish my husband's stash of Trader Joe's Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies, like a true supporter should. And then I'll scrub the toilet.

Perfect post. Seriously.
I LOVE the topic this week.

Mmmmm. Nutty goes well with chocolate!

Eve, I would clean a hundred toilets before dusting! I guess there are all kinds of crazy...

PB, I'm glad you and your writer support each other well! (must try TJ's chocolate chip cookies next time I'm there).

I am so sharing this with my husband. He's great about most of this stuff, so he'll laugh just like I did.

Post a Comment

Grid_spot theme adapted by Lia Keyes. Powered by Blogger.


discover what the Muses get up to when they're not Musing

an ever-growing resource for writers

Popular Musings

Your Responses

Fellow Musers