“Can you write me into your story?”
Every writer hears this question from friends, family, and acquaintances and inwardly groans.
Unbeknownst to the inquisitor, this question is self-centered. If you’re lucky enough to read someone’s writing, or to have a writer share ideas about their work with you, making it about you is the last thing you should do. I don’t know about all other writers, but for me, it automatically puts the inquisitor in my do-not-share-with category.
Here’s why: when I share writing, I’m sharing my heart to people that I owe nothing. It’s scary. It’s even scarier to be weighed by people who already know a lot about me. I give a lot of consideration to friends and family speaking into my life, so their opinions on my work usually matter the most. To receive a selfish response is heartbreaking.
With that being said, know everyone who has asked that question is not intentionally self-centered. They just don’t know how to show they care. After talking with writer friends, I’ve compiled some ways that non-writers can support their writer friends.
1. Ask questions about writing.
Believe it or not, your writing friend is an authority in the craft of writing. They’ve spent thousands of hours world-building, character-building, editing, and/or structuring. If you’re curious, ask them about what goes into it. Ask them about writers who inspire them or about something in their writing that’s challenging right now. Let the writer guide the conversation toward what they’re passionate about.
2. Read their work and give an intelligent response.
If you are lucky enough to have a writer friend who wants you to read their work, do it!
At this moment, if you are thinking, “I don’t really like to read,” or “I don’t have time for that,” you’re not a good friend. How many times has your writing friend attended your sports games, listened to your “fire” SoundCloud album, watched that two-hour movie that you love but they hated, and backed you and your dreams? If your friend has supported your hobbies, dreams, and ambitions, you can put the time into understanding their written words.
Your friend may send you a poem, a short story, a chapter of their novel, or an essay that they’ve written. Give an intelligent response: tell them the emotions it evoked, what you want to know more about, and how it impacted you
3. Buy and/or support their published work.
This one may seem obvious, but many friends or family expect to get published work for free. Not true. Your writing friend most likely wants to support themselves with their writing. Encourage your friend by buying their work if it’s buyable, sharing it with other people that may enjoy it, and, yes, reading it.
You’re now equipped to support your writing friend or family member. So, if I ever hear you asking, “Can you write me into your story?” ever again, I may do just that; you probably won’t like your ending, though.