How To Talk About Your Writing

Has this ever happened to you?

You are having a conversation with a friend, colleague, coworker, family member, hairdresser, etc. and it comes up that you are a writer.

And they ask you one of (or some hybrid of) these dreaded questions:

  • What are you working on?
  • What do you write?
  • Can I read something you’ve written?

If you are unprepared you might respond in a particular way and the way you responded may leave you feeling like this:

Man, I have been there. More than once! It’s awful.

But when you are in that situation you learn a valuable lesson:

Talking about your writing is almost more important than having written.

We’ve all practiced our TedTalk about our book in front of the mirror (Oh, not you? Well, imagine you did this)

…and yet when we are face to face with the prospect of condensing, explaining, reiterating…

we…

we just suddenly…

hmm…we…

…run out of words?


Well, it’s tough! Your brain is full.

It probably doesn’t have any more room for a 280 character-condensed version of your 400 pg manuscript that you can quickly spit out at people as they walk by you.

Or put on a sandwich board as you parade up and down the street.

(Yes, I know that’s not how marketing works.)

But here’s the thing, you have to try. You must have something at the ready when people ask you.

But going back.

How many of you don’t like talking about your writing because:

  1. You assume no one is interested.
  2. You feel like you’re bragging.
  3. You feel like you come across as one of those millennial hipsters who never got around to getting a real job.
  4. You don’t like the conversation to turn into a sales pitch.
  5. You feel like (oof this is the worst) that talking about your idea gets it out of your head and into someone else’s head and now you have to hear their unsolicited opinion of your precious work?

Did you raise your hand? Sorry, I can’t see you.

Look, these feelings suck.

And though they aren’t derived from nothing, to be a successful writer you have to get over them.

So how do you fix this icky problem? How about 5 easy steps.

Step one: Stop being afraid.

*laughs in writer* No, seriously, stop.

It’s not a good look. I know you think you look all broody and wise and reclusive and hip and other words that might pertain to the image you have of yourself, but you just come across as a jerk.

That’s right, I said it: a jerk.

A jerk being someone who is not necessarily mean, but someone who is not very bright.

Sorry for the tough love, but if you don’t get past this step (where I lived for a very long time) you will never move on to step two.

Step two: Reflect on what you have written.

What kind of stuff do you write, what’s your genre, what inspires you, why do you write in the first place, who are your favorite authors (I know, ugh), think about all this stuff though (maybe even write it down, you writer) so that when someone asks you- you have an answer!

Step three: Talk to other writers; ask them questions and see what they say.

Seriously, learn from them. If they are super confident about their writing, why is that? Is it because they love sharing what they do and not hiding it from the world?

I know, weird, right? Seriously, though, learn from these people you will find it will change your perspective on your own writing forever.

Step four: Have a mock conversation.

I know, gross, but this really works. You can pick a writer-friend and that’ll make it easier. In fact, do yourself a favor and talk about writing with other writers on a daily basis

In doing so, you will build up the muscle required to speak with civilians.

Step five: Write some blurbs and pitches.

Because first of all, you’re going to need them anyway. And when you start querying, pitching and moving towards publishing you want to have a good idea of what you are doing first. It never hurts to practice.

Most people can’t promise you a magic bullet solution to this, but I can!

And only because it’s really a matter of getting out of your head and getting out there. And once you do that, you’ve done it.

So get out there and…

What Writers Want

To quote Huffpost “apparently everything”.

But hey, cut us some slack.

Just because we want things, doesn’t make us greedy.

I think it’s only fair that writers want things. And better, know what to ask for, and how to ask for it.

When I started to try and hack this writer thing, that was one place I struggled. Well I struggled with finding the right words, with using the same words too often, using words like really too often, unnecessary sentences, frequently using too many adverbs, not knowing how to talk about my writing and even what to do with that damn Oxford comma (,).

But as writers we know those are just the basics.

But we all make mistakes.

Even if some of us project that we never do.

And sometimes comparison will steal our joy.

And it’s just better to avoid public opinion, lock yourself in a room and just write.


I think that is where a lot of writers get stuck. I might not be speaking for you, but my desire to be a writer came from sitting alone with my ideas and ruminating on them. Yes, that’s where it all started, but it obviously can’t end there.


It’s all well and good to write things. That’s the art of it.

But then what?


Analysis Paralysis?

Some poor writers might be left with the only alternative to yell into the void, but when nothing answers back it is as if the questions were never asked.


So you might go looking for the answers yourself. Suddenly you are the protagonist on your own hero’s journey.

You are seeking the Holy Grail: What to do next.


Maybe you are past that point. You are grizzled, having been on the journey for quite some time. And yet, you still have questions. And that just feels…wrong.

Shouldn’t you have all the answers by now?


“I did,” You might say, “Or I thought I did, but the answers keep changing.”

Man, I know that feel. The longer you are at it the more it feels like just as you reach your destination the map keeps getting rewritten.

Excusez-moi? A little help here?!



There is a consensus on certain things: How to get an Agent, What to do to get Self-published, What makes a good story, etc.

But as writers we are also told not to break the rules but then break them with skill. To do things in the right order, or to rebel and do your own thing.

To keep up with constant changes while still doing what is tried and true.

End of the day you have to have all the answers, know the right people, be nice and work hard. That’s it.

What if you do all these things and you still don’t seem to get anywhere?


You still feel like you are running on that treadmill.

How frustrating.

Don’t worry, you are NOT ALONE.

Yes, we are well best the dawning of the digital age that threw everything for a loop. And yet we might have endured a decade of those who refused to keep up, who were stuck in their old ways and therefore didn’t have the answers we desperately needed.


They left us to fend for ourselves in this literary dystopia.


But all is not lost.

Some have seen the light and want to point you toward it. And like a conduit, I am here to show you where those people are.

Here is the list you’ve been waiting for!

  1. DIYMFA.COM
  2. THECREATIVEPENN.COM
  3. GOTHAMWRITERS.COM
  4. WRITERSDIGEST.COM
  5. AMYMARIEAYRES.COM (oops how’d that get there)
  6. NaNoWriMo.com

They might not have ALL the answers, but they point you in the directions you want to go in and that’s what writers need want.

We want…

Well?

Here is a list of things I think writers want:

  1. We just want a solid dot on a map and steps to get there.
  2. We want immediate feedback from people who care about what we are trying to do.
  3. We want the freedom to do those things in the first place.
  4. We want to learn how to advocate for ourselves and our writing.
  5. We want to be a visible, viable part of the writing community.
  6. We want to fit in, but also stand out.
  7. We want to be successful. (I mean, duh!)


If any of those things are true for you, go to those places first.

They not only know a thing or two or three or four, but the people are approachable.

And you will have what you need want all in one place.

And if as a writer you don’t even know what you want (I see you), this will help you figure that out.