If you suspect that your loved one is a writer, don’t panic. Writers function differently than normal people, so it’s alright to feel nervous. But if you are supportive of your writer friend or family member, you can feel assured that you will not find yourself murdered in their next novel, and you might even enjoy reading it. Here are some signs that your loved one might be a writer and what to do about it:
- Loss of interest in the outside world. You may become concerned if your loved one confines herself to her home or writing room for hours or even days. You can speak to her while she stares at her laptop, typewriter, or notepad and find her nearly unresponsive. This is normal for writers. She has simply found her muse or “writing zone” and will most likely return to her usual activities in no more than a week or two. Most writers will appreciate gifts of junk food during this time, especially chocolate. Some also enjoy alcoholic beverages. If you don’t bring food, it is wisest to leave your writer undisturbed until they emerge from “the writing zone.”
- Trouble sleeping. Insomnia is often a symptom of being a writer, because writers cannot control when they will receive inspiration. Lying in bed with lots of quiet is often a trigger for thinking about a current or future story idea. Your loved one may be up at any hour of the night trying to capture inspiration for his story. It’s important to let him write at this particular time, because going to bed without writing it down might mean he forgets something truly brilliant. This is a necessary way for him to cope with being a writer, even if he does delete most of it when he rereads it in the morning, so do not criticize. Instead, graciously offer him coffee to make up for his lack of sleep and pretend that he did not disturb yours.
- Disturbing internet history. If you find Google searches on your shared computer that you do not understand, please be aware that your loved one is most likely not researching how to murder you. “Where can you stab someone and they will survive” and “how would the US government react to a bomb threat” are probably just things they need to know for their novel…probably.
- Crying for unidentifiable reasons. There are many reasons your loved one might be crying. This could include realizing that the whole chapter written last night was awful, receiving a rejection letter, or having to kill off a favorite character. It may seem silly to you, but I assure you, it is a big deal to your writer. Please be validating and comforting in this trying time.
- Conversations with himself as different people. He’s just testing his dialogue out loud to see if it sounds right. He would most likely consider it a true demonstration of love and support if you offer to read one part for him.
- Fascination with random strangers or objects. That little piece of graffiti might become a major plot point. Taking pictures of strangers or scribbling down descriptions may seem stalker-ish and creepy, but it is just part of your writer’s valuable process. The guy with the interesting t-shirt will most likely show up in one of her stories soon. Don’t be concerned if that guy turns out to be a psycho murderer; you will never be able to verify that he wasn’t, anyway. Just try to prevent your loved one from getting the cops called on her.
- Claims to be writing when he is obviously not writing. He is not trying to hide the fact that he is on social media for hours. He honestly believes that he is writing. Gentle reminders of how long he has been procrastinating may not be received well immediately, but eventually your writer will recognize your efforts in the acknowledgements of his book. Volunteer to listen to your loved one babble unintelligibly about what his imaginary friends should do next until he absolutely must write this down. Tell him you enjoy it. It’s okay to lie a little here.
Your writer’s unusual habits might make him or her a little difficult to live with at times, but they are also a part of who he or she is. Despite the challenges, you will find that the writer you love is passionate, intelligent, eloquent, particularly attentive to beauty, and notices all kinds of little details about you. Your loved one will greatly appreciate and depend on your support, even if she does talk to her imaginary friends more than you. Honest.