6 Things I Wish Non-Writers Would Stop Saying To Me


Non-writers are amazing people. They can be super supportive, even if they don’t quite get what you’re doing, interested in everything you’re up to, and happy to dissect books/characters/plots all day. Or they can say the most annoying things writers ever have to endure in a casual conversation. I think every writer has their own list of comments non-writers make to them on a regular basis that they wish people would stop saying. Even the most well-meaning people can unthinkingly annoy a writer through an off-hand comment. I, like most people, have a list of these comments, and today I thought I’d share some of them with you. So, here are 6 of my least favourite things non-writers say to me.

“Oh you’re a writer. So you’re doing journalism then?”

No. No I am not. I have the highest respect for journalist. I did two units in university that involved journalism and from that I know two facts: a) journalists are awesome people, and b) I am not one of them. There are plenty of other kinds of writers apart from journalists. I happen to be of the novel writing variety. Those novels don’t write themselves you know.

“There’s no money in writing you know.”

This is often the follow up to the last remark, after I’ve cleared up the misunderstanding of exactly what it is I write. And I get it. You mean well. But anyone who goes into writing for the money is either delusional or not really a writer. We know most writers don’t make a fortune out of their books. We also don’t care. Writing is our passion and we’re going to write, money or no.

“So, what have you published?”

This is the point where I start squirming and wishing I hadn’t said so forthrightly that I am a writer. I mean, it’s nice you’re asking about my work, but please, not everyone who calls themselves a writer has achieved a published status yet. And every time someone says this to me, I feel like I have somehow failed as a writer.

“Haven’t you finished writing that book yet?/When will you be published?”

Used interchangeably and equally frustrating. No, I haven’t finished writing this book, because books take a very long time to get right. They don’t come out of my head in perfect polished prose. I so wish they did. And getting published takes equally as long. I so wish I knew when I was going to be published. But alas, the writing gods haven’t granted me that knowledge. Trust me, when they do, you’ll be the first to know.

“Oh, I read a book just like that.”

Thank you for crushing my beloved idea. A little piece of my writerly soul dies whenever people say they’ve already read the idea. It’s like my book is being written off before they’ve even tried it. Yes, you probably have read a book with a similar idea. Doesn’t mean mine can’t be good too. This statement is a lot less encouraging than this random person thinks it is.

*blank stare*

Well, you did ask. I am a writer of books, a creator of worlds and a lover of words. And I am very proud of that fact. Good day to you

These are some of the comments that most annoy me. Your list is probably different. What comment do you hear the most often that annoys you? What is the worst comment you’ve ever received from a non-writer?

Cait@Paper Fury has an amazing post on things you should never say to bookworms if you want more of these random comments outsiders say. You should definitely check it out if you haven't already. 

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  1. There's no money in writing has to be one of my favourites. It's always as though people are saying the money is more important than spending your life doing something you love and just getting by. The purpose of life is to live, not to work. Less money and happiness? Sign me up!

    1. Totally! I sometimes feel people get too hung up on the idea that money is the most important thing. I mean, of course it's important to have enough money to be independent and live by, but that doesn't mean that it's the most important thing in the world. I've always believed that you're allowed to do things that make you feel happy and fulfilled, even if they don't make money. I've never met a writer who's in it for the money anyway. We just love what we do!

  2. Luckily no one has ever said any of these things to me yet. And I hope they don't, I have a feeling that would get awkward :D.

    1. You must have some really supportive people in your life. Hopefully you don't have to hear too many of these sorts of comments. They're fun to collect, but super awkward in conversation!

  3. Awww, thanks for linking to my post!! :D And I 100% agree with these. GAH. I've had them all said to me, and I basically don't say I'm a writer...ever. IT'S JUST SO MISUNDERSTOOD. I also hate it when I say "I'm not published yet" so the non-writer goes off on a spiel about their mate's self-published book which I should read and then follow in their footsteps and self-publish and ARGHGHGHRGH. I have nothing against self-publishing, but it BAFFLES me how people think self-pub and traditional are the same. THEY ARE NOT. (And I also dislike when people think that because you're a writer automatically love/enjoy reading every book ever. Um. No??)
    I also hate getting asked to explain my book. hehe. XD But that's because I can't ever put it into words! I just want to say "go read my blog! I explain it there" XDXD

    1. Thank you for writing such an awesome post in the first place. I remembered it while I was writing this one, and just had to link to it. Ugh, I feel you so much. People misunderstand writing and writers sooooo much. Oh my, yes. Everyone expects you to have read EVERY BOOK EVER. And then they seem surprised when you've never heard of their favourite book. Like, do they even realise just how many books are out there and how many of those we're trying to read.

      YES! That's such a difficulty. Like, I know it's so cool, and it's an awesome book. And then I try to explain it and it sounds lame and I'm left going like 'it really is interesting and unique, I promise. Really!'

  4. None of this has happened to me...yet. But I just recently started to call myself a writer. Great post!

    1. I'm so glad you haven't had any of this yet. I hope the people around you are super supportive so you don't have to hear many comments like this at all. And yay for calling yourself a writer. Welcome to the family!

    2. Thanks! I've considers myself a writer after writing 80,000 words for a novel. NaNoWriMo has helped so much.

  5. I don't tend to tell people I'm a writer for just these reasons. They just don't understand. *sigh* And yes, I absolutely HATE IT when I'm explaining it (because they asked!) and they're like, "Ohhhh yeah. Oh cool. Yeah, like in Narnia!" And I'm just like, "No, like in MY BOOK. THEY ARE VERY DIFFERENT. TELL ME THEY ARE THE SAME ONCE YOUVE READ IT."
    actually, don't tell me ... XP
    I also used to loathe the, "So what's your book about?" question. But since I've discovered the power of book blurbs, I don't mind it as much. I can just hand them my phone and be like, "Why don't you read this?"

  6. These are the reasons that I hard a time announcing that I'm a writer to people. Instead I phrase it as "I like to write" or "I'm working on a project right now."

    It especially annoys me when people tell me there's no money in it. There's no money in my grandmother's knitting, but do you tell her to stop? No. It's not like I don't have a job / other means of supporting myself.

    Anyways, great list! Very relevant to us writers.

  7. Ugh. I've gotten all of these. They've annoyed me to no end. My most hated is "So you're /still/ writing?" as in this person has expected me to give up writing and is surprised I'm still sticking to this fruitless endeavor. It makes me want to retort, "Yeah, are you /still/ a firefighter/business owner/teacher/interior designer/whatever your profession is that you're obviously still doing."


  8. For me, as a writer/English major, people are starting to ask me if I'm going to be a teacher. And I'm just like, "Um, no?" and so it just... assumptions about your career path based on a single word make me slightly annoyed.

    Mostly, I do not tell people that I'm a writer. :P Which is fine, because I don't like sharing that info, anyway. Still, it bothers me when other people have to hear it, haha. *shakes head* C'mon, other people. Up your game.

  9. I absolutely hate the second, third, and fifth. There are literally billions of books that have been written throughout history, and TONS more that haven't been published. LITERALLY ALMOST EVERY SINGLE IDEA HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE. Just because someone else has written a book about contemporary witches doesn't mean I can't. PEOPLE NEED TO CHILL.

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality


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