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Sunday, 28 August 2016

Five easy ways to annoy a writer

So, as another in my series of 'How To Write a Book Whilst the World Conspires Against You', I bring you my List of Annoyances, otherwise known as Ways to Annoy The Writer in Your Life (Should You Want To Risk All You Hold Dear). 

You'd think writing would be a fairly relaxing activity, wouldn't you?  On the flopometer somewhere between a warm bath with candles and an undemanding episode of 'Shed of the Year'?  Oh, how wrong you would be! It's quite astonishing the things that will irritate a writer, particularly when they are mid-manuscript, and if you wish to avoid the wrath of a writer close to you, here are some simple ideas for things you should not do, for fear of riling them beyond all mortal understanding:

Want Things. If your pet writer is mid writing-stream, then avoid wanting anything at all costs.  Questions like 'how long should I cook this chicken for, then?' or 'when do these fish want feeding?' should never be asked...if you need an answer to your question, then make sure you do not disturb your author, but Google instead.  Although Google, to be fair, probably won't know where you put your socks.

Try the big cupboard on the left. Behind the sheets.
Ask How They Are Getting On.  Particularly if you have an opinion about how fast they should be writing and/or what they are writing about. You have no idea what is going through the head of your writer - it could be anything from the next plot point to wondering whether there are any chocolate digestives left in the cupboard, so don't make them feel any worse about sitting staring at the wall.

Turn The TV On Loudly.  Especially if you then walk away, returning only to complain 'I was watching that!' when the author in question turns it off.  Be warned, an author with a long stick can turn a TV off from quite a distance away.  If your author also has white, thin lips whilst this is going on, then be very careful, authors are quite adept with that long stick and can rearrange your undercarriage very quickly, should they be sufficiently annoyed.
Just imagine this coming at you with extreme prejudice and a tight-lipped writer at one end...
 Develop A coughing, clearing your throat repeatedly, humming, tapping your foot or, in extreme cases, even blinking.  You might think your author is completely involved in their manuscript, but, believe me, that author is just waiting for a reason to explode away from the keyboard, shouting something along the lines of 'how can I work with all this NOISE?'  In the case of the blinking, you may find this confusing. Trust me, it is normal behaviour from an author.

Offer Help.  Trust me, if your author needs help they will ask. Or, more probably, shout. It doesn't matter how gently you ask, or how carefully you approach, you will be met with a 'what do you want, now?' and a waving of the long stick in a threatening manner.  Leave your writer to come to the conclusion that they need your help in their own time.  Most likely they will source this help by suddenly yelling at you, out of the blue, a random question such as 'so who the hell did win the Grand National in 1955, then?!'  Again, here Google is your friend.  And never ask why they want to know - they just do.  It's safer if you don't know.
Quare Times, actually.
 So, if you do have a writer in your life, it's probably best if you stay at quite a distance while they are writing. At least, further than the length of their stick.  And learn not to hum.

It's for your own safety.


Flowerpot said...

Oh I agree with all these, Jane. I have even trained the dog not to ask When Is It Time to Go For a Walk? She's lying behind me o the bed at the moment, dreaming of our walk later.....!

Lesley Cookman said...

I love Shed of the Year. #nonsequituroftheday

Carol Hedges said...

TV on too door's bloody door other side's bloody teenager doing up old bike...yep. Actually surprised I get any writing done at all!

Rhoda Baxter said...

I love Shed of the Year too. Not as much as I love The Great British Bake Off, but close.

I'm rather worried that Google might know where my socks are. It seems to know an awful lot about me...

Chris Stovell said...

'I have a good idea for you to write about' makes my fingers want to grab the stick too! The only disturbances I welcome are the silent offerings of tea/coffee and biscuits/chocolate!