10 Ways to Make Your Writer Happy

Reading through a few blog updates today, I’m actually surprised not to have found more specifically Valentine’s Day related. I’m not particularly Valentine’s Day minded, but I am surprised that there seems to be less of a fuss about it this year than in previous years.

I did come across this post on blondewritemore (written by the lovely Lucy and The Duke of Wellington – there’s lots of really interesting lists and posts for writers) discussing ‘How To Be Romantic To Your Writer’, which I thought was a really nice idea. Some of the suggestions here are really good, and some are quite sweet, but – to me – some of them don’t quite feel right. Or, at least, felt a little one-sided.

So, I thought I’d have a go at coming up with my own list. Some points share similarities – for example, I agree with the breakfast one*. Please do click on the links above to read the original post that inspired this one!

1   Share mealtimes. Start the day well with a a good breakfast that not only sets you both up for the rest of day, but also provides you with some quality time together first thing in the morning. Sit down together for a nice evening meal/tea. Writers can spend hours alone writing, often, so remember to spend time with your writer when they are not working.

2   Be patient with your writer. Don’t rush them. Let them spend the couple of hours they need for writing, without interruption, so that they get through all they need to while it is fresh and clear in their mind. This will allow them to relax much more easily later on, and free them up to focus all of their creative energies on you!

3   Be thoughtful with your gifts. If you decide to exchange gifts on Valentine’s Day (or, other days throughout the year) then try to find something that you know your writer will want: some books, some new stationary, a mug that reflects one of their interests, some writing-related software, a soft cushion or a new chair for their writing room, a trip away to somewhere they’ve never been, and so on. A thoughtful poem you have written yourself, tucked into a card, is kind and meaningful and would be highly appreciated by your lover-of-words writer. It doesn’t have to be sappy or overly romantic – make it funny, personalised, reflective of you. Don’t rely on internet gift suggestions that believe all women want perfume, make-up, and a new handbag, and all men want cologne, underwear, and a new set of tools.

4   Be flexible with your time. Unlike other professions, writing is not a 9-5 job. It’s not something that can be put away for the day, easily switched off, or forgotten when inconvenient. Sometimes the writing muse hits hard, and we writers can become so involved with our writing that there is little room – or time – for much else. Equally, there are times when the muse is absent entirely and every single word takes as much energy to write as three pages of them would have on another occasion. As such, it is important to recognise, and honour, the muse. Try not to be offended if your writer asks to postpone your plans or needs to keep writing until 3am. If they start jotting hurriedly in eyeliner on their leg, in public, it’s okay if you want to move a little bit further away – but understand that writing their idea down is important to them. Your writer finds these things as frustrating as you do, but recognises that this is how they need to be in order to be effective as a writer. Try not to be too rigid or inflexible with (the majority of) your plans. Your understanding will be noticed, and repaid, and the time you do spend together will be better, more enjoyable, and less distracted.

5   Understand their need for privacy. It is a big thing for your writer to let anyone in to their literary or fictional world, and an even bigger thing to let anyone read something they have written that is important to them before it is ready. Respect your writer’s need for alone time, for privacy. Your understanding and acceptance will mean more to them than you can imagine, and – in time – you’ll be granted access to a side of your writer that virtually nobody else is permitted to see.

6   Be open to their work/world. Take an interest in the things your writer is creating, and be open to reading or hearing about the stories and other documents they create. Provide feedback. Use a red pen. Point out links, similarities or useful references that might be relevant or of interest. Ask questions about what your writer has created.

7   Help your writer fill the blank pages. You can’t help your writer with the physical writing aspect of their work, but you can help to provide inspiration and energy. You can add motivation, and provide encouragement and support. Find out what your writer is working on, and suggest a research trip/outing when you both have some time together. Help your writer to make notes, stimulate their five senses, and/or read through their last few pages and make some suggestions of your own.

8   Look after your writer. When working well, your writer will be consumed with the act of writing – so make sure to check in on them from time to time. Bring them a cup of tea, or a glass of water, and maybe something tasty to boost their sugar level. If they’ve been writing for several hours without rest, perhaps suggest you both take a walk together to get some fresh air, to stretch your legs, walk the dog, find some lunch, etc, before continuing.

9   Be honest with your feedback. If your writer asks you to read their work, or for your opinions and feedback, understand that they are trusting you with something important to them and truly value what you think. Be honest, and constructive with what you say. It’s not your duty to tell them you enjoyed reading it if you didn’t. If you don’t like their story, say so – and then tell them why you don’t like it. If you loved it, but thought the punctuation was a little off, say so. Tell them if you don’t like their character names, or got confused in the middle of a particular scene, or found eleven grammar errors. Writers who are in the writing game for the long haul need real feedback, even if they don’t like or agree with what you say. Don’t just tell them their work is ‘nice’, they can’t do anything with it. Tell them they used the same word three times in one paragraph, and they can re-draft.

10  Be spontaneous. Be impulsive, creative, unexpected. Do things that are exciting and weird. Create strange memories with your writer, and give them experiences they don’t have to only imagine. Embrace your inner child and build a pillow fort in the middle of your living room. Have a water gun fight in the garden without wearing shoes. Fill a room in your house with balloons. Go on a treasure hunt. Go to a beach at sunrise and have a doughnut and orange juice breakfast on the sand. Do the unusual. Play.

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One thought on “10 Ways to Make Your Writer Happy

  1. DEAR EM BIDDULPH, HERE IS A LITTLE VALENTINE CHUCKLE FOR YOU. IF YOU KNOW THE OLD FOLK TUNE>>>THIS CAN MERRILY BE SUNG TO ‘HOME ON THE RANGE’ CHEERS, ZARO

    I LOVE YOU CRIED THE ELEPHANT

    (A Valentine’s Day Ballad)

    I love you cried the elephant, who says that I can’t
    through I know you think that I lie
    But seeing your slimy trail
    glistening on the rail
    These huge feet bounce up to the sky

    Oh dear mumbled the snail, whilst nibbling some kale
    Elephant, you are quite a hunk
    But please cease all your hype
    my dinner’s getting ripe,
    And gosh, no more waving that trunk

    You see my heart lies with Lark, when she sings in the park
    I’ll never love any other
    But I’m a minuscule snail
    without any tail
    Boo hoo, I’m heading back home to mother

    Ignoring the bug, who was now caught in a jug
    the lark tweeted a smile of pure rapture
    Who is that shaggy brown bear
    oh, what fabulous hair
    Chirp chirp, his heart I must capture

    The love of my dreams, swims in this stream
    growled the bear while chasing a bunny
    That pink salmon so fair
    who never needs air
    Is sweeter to me than honey

    I so love that fish, she’d make a fine dish
    though I’d never imagine to eat her
    No I’d just grab her, yes sir
    hold her close to my fur
    And kiss till we both start to purr

    The salmon no doubt, now wore a big pout
    she didn’t intend to be dinner
    That bear was a thug
    she shouted out, UGH
    Bear, I’m afraid you’re about to get thinner

    For I have a love, he’s called Turtle Dove
    fills my slippery gills with gladness
    Now stop all your growling
    and cease all the prowling
    I flip flop with a love that’s pure madness

    But sadly it goes, the dove wanted someone with toes
    and the salmon just wouldn’t do
    There was simply no hope
    that fish felt like a dope
    So she swam back upstream, wouldn’t you

    If I had my druthers, cooed the dove to the others
    I’d give my pure heart to Mr Sloth
    He’s famous for toes
    my, how slowly he goes
    To him I must pledge my troth

    Don’t be silly called Sloth, I’m in love with a moth
    who flutters all over the place
    We’ve met in the past
    she’s my sweetheart at last
    She’s so fast she can win any race

    Ha ha ha cried the moth, while destroying some cloth
    I’ve been engaged in deep contemplation
    When I settle my tail
    I’ll land right on Whale
    Our love, a one-of-a-kind creation

    The whale nodded in glee – going with me?
    but oh little moth I am worried
    I am after all that
    a fat water acrobat
    Who has promised his love to someone furied

    Ahem purred the feline, it’s true I’m divine
    and that big whale thinks I’m the best
    But the truth is this kitten
    is already smitten
    Ouch, the love bug has bitten

    When I spotted that goat, my poor heart was smote
    I was trembling, all howls and cat calls
    He looked wonderfully weird
    with those hoofs and long beard
    Meow meow, does he notice me at all

    He-haw cried the goat, I’m an ordinary bloke
    but cats are not really my style
    They’re stubborn, aloofy
    with coats far too poofy
    in my eyes theres’ no creature so goofy

    Romance is a joke, there I have spoke
    All this amorous chatter disdainful
    I’d rather have me a blast
    chomping on grass
    this love business just silly and painful

    Everything stopped, the bubble had popped
    was love just a great big fat bore
    Creatures were bemused
    frustrated then confused
    licking their wounds feeling sore

    It was over and done, no more lovey dovey fun
    the warmth had gone out on their part
    Till one cold wintery day
    St Valentine passed their way
    Dressed in white lace and a big candy heart

    He regarded the features, of these miserable creatures
    and put forth the question directly
    Why ever such gloom
    romance rises like the moon
    And maketh true love to bloom

    Oh don’t make such a fuss, silly notions aren’t for us
    we’re alone and simply don’t care
    They all privately sighed
    true love is a lie
    And rushed off somewhere quiet to cry

    But St Valentine was smart, had a very special art
    and with his bow aimed candied arrows to fly
    They each found their mark
    going straight to the heart
    Zing went the chocolate love darts

    Next a chorus unfurled, every sound in the world
    all creatures going wild with delight
    Marry me one did blurt
    your tail is so pert
    Romance had flown back that night

    That Saint he did wink, and blush pretty pink
    and murmured one last little fact
    Tonight please don’t miss
    landing a kiss
    Take my word, opposites do attract

    Zaro Weil, February 2016

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