I don’t write people off. If you talk to me, I will encourage you to write. (Or I’ll encourage you to make art, or create smartphone apps, or start a business, or make whatever it is you want to make. But usually the people I meet want to write.) But if I were the kind of person who writes people off, this would be my top 5 list.
- You want to know your first short story will sell before you deign to write a first draft.
- You are in love with your idea for a novel, and your idea of yourself as the author of it, but you aren’t working on it in any way.
- You send me email after email about how you are going to come to the writing group, but you just want this or that special reassurance, or to meet with me privately (again), or to explain some particular of your situation that you think matters – but none of it matters. What matters is that you write. I care nothing for your problems or your diagnoses. Write. Come to the group if you want, or find another group. Write. Quit sending me email unless it’s a manuscript.
- You corner me and won’t shut up about this book you think I should write using your material. Go write it yourself, I say. I don’t know what you want, but I actually think it is not for a book to exist about your ideas. I think you just want to watch someone act like they agree with you. I’ll bet if you start writing, this will go away.
- I’m sure that myself goes here. I’m like #3 whenever I don’t write but instead look for reassurances. I’m like #4 whenever I talk someone’s ear off about my ideas but don’t work on them. I’m like #2 whenever I don’t write but fantasize instead. I’m like #1 whenever I want to know I’ll end up with a story before I’m willing to put pen to paper. And here’s another thing I do, which can be #5: I have all these ambitions and even talent, I write stuff that I want to publish, but I just let it sit around in a notebook or on a hard drive.
Luckily I never write anyone off, even myself. I keep going no matter what, because attendance is my superpower. I am mean to myself; I tell myself I’ll never succeed; I yell at myself for how bad my writing is and how abysmally I manage my time and skill. But being mean to oneself could be #6 on this list! I’m sure it has never helped anyone to write. I am going to stop being mean and treat myself the way I treat everyone else.
I will always encourage you if you want to write. I promise to encourage myself, too.