Many writers respond to the above sentiment with a groan, a smirk, a roll of the eyes so intense they risk pulling a muscle. Some respond with downright disgust. “How DARE someone insult my LIFE’S WORK by thinking they might want to try it!”
I don’t understand this response. At all.
Okay, I suppoooose I get where it’s coming from. You’ve poured your blood, sweat, tears, and a few Olympic-sized pools of coffee into your writing. You’ve cried over rejections and woken the neighbors with your cheering when a late-night idea came to you. Your writing is your EVERYTHING. And when someone shrugs on in and decides to take it up as a hobby, this riles you up. Their lukewarm interest feels like a trivialization of all your hard work.
So I get where the feeling originates. But I still don’t understand it.
Here’s what I would say if someone told me they’d like to write a book: “That’s awesome!”
Everyone started somewhere. There was a time when you were not a writer. You liked reading and maybe you jotted down an idea or two, and you thought, “I might like to write a book someday…” Even if that time was so long ago you don’t remember it, you were not a writer once. The person who says they might like to write a book, that person is just the belated version of YOU. They could discover a passion they never realized they had. A little picking around in the rocks could unearth a gold mine of graphophilia.
And even if that person doesn’t turn out to be the kind of writer who puts off dinner to finish just one more page, that still doesn’t merit eye-rolling. Hobby writing is perfectly okay. You do not have a monopoly on creativity and not everyone needs to take it as seriously as you do. Why should they? Don’t you have casual hobbies too? Should the person who wants to learn a sport on the weekends be considered scum by professional athletes? All books are written one word at a time, so even the hobby writer who pens a paragraph here and there can still complete a book. It will take longer, but who cares?
“Sure,” you might say, “but their ho-hum attitude demeans how much I slave over my craft! They act like it’s easy but it’s hard!” True, and this is something they will find out, and it will either stop them, or inspire them, just like it did for you.
In other words, someone’s potential interest in writing does not negatively impact you even slightly. Unless this person is overtly turning up their nose and saying crappy things like, “I might write a book after I finish my REEEAAALLLL JOB” (which is a different issue), then announcing their interest in writing can only be a good thing. They have something in common with you!
We should encourage new authors. Lift them up like Simba to gaze upon the wide open world of writing. Embarking on a novel for the first time is exciting and wondrous and empowering and everyone should get to experience that.
Tell me, how do you feel when someone says they might write a book someday? If it bothers you, please share why – I’d love to better understand.