For Plot Twist Tuesday I dusted off this article — not so you’ll try to make my day because you already have made my day countless times. Actually, you could just retire — you’ve made my life. Your ongoing encouragement through the years is how I knew to write this piece in the first place.
My purpose in pulling this from the archives is to remind all of us to keep encouraging the creatives in our lives. Words and actions mean more than you know. Your sacrificial kindness is a contribution, and it’s appreciated.
Here’s a secret: It’s not hard to make a writer’s day.
I’ll let you know five ways!
1. Quote them in conversation
So you’re at a coffee shop with your writer friend. Perhaps you’re discussing your favorite read-alouds, or if you like Legalos or Aragorn better, and suddenly you weave in a line from your friend’s book or post. This simple witty quote — mic-dropped into an everyday conversation — will brighten their eyes.
A couple years ago I was skyping with a friend, and he out-of-the-blue mentioned my character’s name. “Oh like, maybe Hadassah?” he said. After recovering from surprise that he had bought (and read!) the novel I wrote when I was 16, I blushed sunset-red and grinned. “Reader, I married him.”
2. Introduce them as a writer
“This is my friend. She’s a writer.”
Here is music. Why? Because when you acknowledge your friend’s art-form, you are deepening his/her resolve to write.
It takes a lot of courage to call oneself a writer! Your affirmation and feedback of your friend’s craft and role are valuable. Writers love receiving words as much as they love giving them.
Writers love receiving words as much as they love giving them.Tweet
When my mom read a short story I wrote when I was a teen, she penned, “I can’t wait to read the series you’ll write someday” on my paper. I was amazed. “She really thinks I’ll write a series?”
3. Bring them espresso
Writers’ wheels are turning even when they’re watching a movie. Everywhere they go they’re inhaling story arcs, verbs, textures, scents — they can’t always turn the ideas off at night, as they fold over the day’s experiences, stripping it of useful input. The faraway look on their face while they make dinner could be because they left their character hanging on for dear life on the side of a rocky cliff. Trust me, that’s not a comfortable place to be as an author.
Writers are often sacrificing sleep and free time to work at forming words. It might seem silly, but they can’t not. Just like any other passion, diligence is in order. Hand-delivered coffee will fill in the gap. Your presence is the biggest gift and caffeine can bring the extra pizzazz to edit a post or scene. (Check their bio for their beverage choice — you’ll probably see if he/she prefers copious amounts of black coffee, hazelnut lattes, Earl Grey or chocolate.)
4. Nag about a sequel
This is the one time nagging is ok. They might roll their eyes and say, “Oh, I’m done with those characters.” (But they’re secretly flattered you would care about a sequel, and maybe they’ll even write one.)
Also, know they need help. When you notice an intricate subplot or character’s subtle ulterior motive — you have just jumped into the magical wardrobe of their personal Narnia. Your plot twist ideas and counsel will make an impact.
Because if you’ve shaped a writer’s life, then you’ve shaped a writer’s words. Your influence, shared experiences, and support have trickled into their creativity. To know a writer is to be a piece of her art.
Because if you’ve shaped a writer’s life, then you’ve shaped a writer’s words. Your influence, shared experiences, and support have trickled into their creativity. To know a writer is to be a piece of her art.Tweet
5. Share how you stayed up to read their words
No one is a mind-reader, so unless you tell them that you read and liked their article or story, they won’t have any clue.
You arrived late to work because you stayed up reading her book? Were you not able to put it down on the plane and thus got airsick? Did you cry in chapter 13? Did you laugh out loud at his blog post? Did it change your perspective? If that’s the truth, your friend will appreciate knowing.
When our writer words affect you in real ways, it makes us want to go back to the keyboard and write more real words.
Readers, these are a few of the ways you’ve made a writer’s day. And the writers will keep writing so we can hopefully make yours, too.