Ten things not to say to a writer —

This post by Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds is funny. A bit rude, yes, but funny: very typical of the special Chuck Wendig subgenre of blog posts.

The tenth thing not to say — “We’re out of coffee” — doesn’t resonate with me, because I drink, get this . . . water. I don’t like coffee. Or tea. I loathe soda. I hate beer. (I KNOW, right? But it’s true.)

Granted, reading Laura Florand’s THE CHOCOLATE KISS did force me to make hot chocolate — with milk and A LOT of dark chocolate and just enough sugar and, oh look, it’s fifty degrees today, just right for hot chocolate!

Ahem. Back to the topic.

The number one thing not to say to a writer, imo — and btw I am absolutely certain not one of you has ever said this to anybody — is:


You know what? Sometimes when I say I’m a writer, someone does say this. It always takes me thoroughly aback. That is a whole different kind of person there. I’ve also had students who told me they never ever read a book that wasn’t assigned in school. I remember the exact moment I first heard a student say this! I was like, HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE????


Chuck’s response: Never, ever, ever tell a writer this. Just don’t do it. Don’t tell an architect you don’t enter buildings. Don’t tell an arborist, “I totally hate trees. And nature in general. When I see trees, I cut them down just so I don’t have to look at their dumb tree faces and their stupid asshole branches anymore.” I mean, really, you don’t read? It’s just — whhh — what is wrong with you?

My own response: I admit I would be more likely to produce only a stunned look, and maybe a weak, “Oh?” Because I am not at my scintillating best when stunned, and although I have heard this at least a dozen times, it always stuns me afresh.

Okay, actually, I like the whole post, it’s funny and there’s an element of truth to all the entries. I think I’ve heard all of those comments, in fact, minus the coffee one. So if you have a minute, you should click through and read the whole thing. As is his custom, Chuck is rather brutal where that is appropriate, but quite kind when kindness is actually called for.

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6 thoughts on “Ten things not to say to a writer —”

  1. May I humbly suggest that you don’t hate beer, you only hate the beers you’ve tried so far. Honestly, it’s like saying “I hate fruit” – there are so many different styles of beer and flavours within each style, there’s definitely one out there for you.

    End of beer geek evangelising ;)

  2. Ah, what you don’t realize is that a friend of mine who had the same idea once set me up with a wide selection of beers selected to be different from each other. I patiently went down the list and found them all thoroughly if differently horrible. In fact, I learned later that I’m a “supertaster”, at least when it comes to alcohol. All detectable alcohol tastes awful to me. I can also taste traces of dishwashing soap or (especially) bleach left on dishes that my mother thinks have been thoroughly rinsed, or traces of rubber from rubber cooking utensils. I also find red delicious apples bitter.

  3. The one (well, the other one) that stopped me dead was “You must be rich”

    People say that to writers? Someone has said that to *you* when they found out you’re a published author? Really?

  4. Yeah, I spent decades dealing with the “Oh, you haven’t had good beer crowd,” until it really became a strain on my patience. Sometimes you do actually know what you don’t like.

    The funny thing is that I do like some beers now. But I don’t think that it’s that I finally managed to find the Good Beer that I would have enjoyed just as much in my twenties. It’s that my tastes have changed generally. Partly a matter of developing them deliberately, but I suspect partly because I was a supertaster then and am not so much now. (Not just alcohol; there are various flavors that used to be too intense for me and now aren’t. Hopefully not a sign of a continuing linear decline. :-) )

    So to that extent, it’s probably worth revisiting things one has any interest in at long intervals, to see if anything’s changed. But sometimes it won’t have. (I still haven’t reached the point of liking hot coffee, at least in any but its most dilute forms. Maybe next decade.)

  5. Interesting, Mike. I know I like far more heat in my food than I used to, but some of that is just getting used to spicier tastes. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s also partly due to a blunting of the supertaster thing.

    Coffee, ugh. I take my caffeine in tablet form. (Seriously. 100 mg as soon as I get up. Helps prevent headaches.)

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