“What does a writer say after sex?
Was it as good for me as it was for you?”
–David Foster Wallace
There’s a lot of stereotypes about writers: We’re poor, depressed, and reclusive. We’re loners who demand attention. We tend towards alcoholism like coal miners get black lung disease and we also off ourselves in record numbers.
But they say there’s a truth to every stereotype. The truth is, ours is quite possibly the loneliest art form to practice. We don’t have an orchestra or a cast and crew to keep us company (and keep us accountable.) We don’t get to nerd-out over gear the way photographers do. We don’t even need natural light.
What writers do need are friends who support what we do. It’s not always easy to be one of those friends. Sometimes we might actually resent you for being our only fans. But bear with us, we’d be in much worse shape without you.
Here are a few tips on how to support the writer in your life.
You can practice any of these on me at Dalyprose.com
ACTUALLY READ US
Ignore us when we say that we only write for ourselves. If it’s published, we hope somebody will read it. Who better to be that somebody than our own friends and family. What’s more, there’s a good chance that if you don’t read our article–or at least click the link–we don’t get paid. Noah Davis writes about this for The Awl in the aptly titled ‘If You don’t Click on This Story, I Don’t Get Paid.’
SUBSCRIBE SO YOU CAN KEEP READING US
This way you don’t have to make an effort. When we put something new out there, it will show up in your inbox or RSS feed. We know who our subscribers are, so just consider yourself lucky that we haven’t thrown some passive aggression your way for not subscribing.
No email list will ever be long enough if it doesn’t include the people we love.
LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE
If you like something we wrote, ‘like’ it. Or, better yet, share it with your followers. That article we just posted is part of a larger conversation. We’ve had our say, now it’s your turn. The greatest compliment you could pay a writer is to make something of your own in response to their work. The second greatest compliment might be saying some things to the trolls we’d never say ourselves.
SPREAD THE WORD IN REAL LIFE
Include us in your network. Introduce us to other artists we might end up collaborating with. Connect us with colleagues who hire freelancers. Take us out when you know, better than we do, that we need a break.
BE A MUSE
See Broke-Ass Stuart’s ‘Why You Should Fuck a Writer.’ Alternatively, you could dump a writer or just be a great friend. Any and all relationships provide material. You’re okay with getting used for art’s sake, right?
WRITERS: SUPPORT YOUR FELLOW WRITERS
For all its frustrations, one of the great things about this line of work is the way writers tend to promote other writers. Pick up any book, you’ll find quotes on the jacket from other writers with nice things to say about it. Now imagine the iPhone 7 coming in a box printed with praise from LG and Samsung. (That analogy belongs to Seth Godin, by the way.)
Here’s a shoutout to mentors, friends, and folks who’ve been at this since I was eating crayons: