Writer Land Mines



Every writer has land mines. Things people say to be “helpful” thatย make you want to lunge across the table at them.

Here are a few of mine:

1) When someone with no experience in publishing and no actual knowledge of the publishing industry, tell me to write x type of books because those sell.

2) When someone who has never written a novel or a short story tells me how to write. Especially when they use “You should…”

3) When someone asks me when I’m going to get a job. You know a real job.


What are your writer land mines?



This entry was posted in Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Writer Land Mines

  1. SJ Main says:

    My favourite was the person who on hearing I had written a book announced that her ten year old also liked writing and that she was going to buy him a pen and paper so he could get started!! Like it’s child’s play!

  2. sjoycarlson says:

    With my current novel, it’s been people saying or suggesting there are things I shouldn’t write about, often without reading any part of it lol. Then usually when they do read it, they’re like, oh, ok, carry on lol

  3. Harliqueen says:

    Oh, that last one is a definite! It drives me up the wall when people say that ๐Ÿ˜€

    • That one really gets my goat. Especially since writing is one of those things you can’t shut off or walk away from. Story becomes a part of your daily life. There is no turning your brain off. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Rhonda Lane says:

    I have a list, too.

    “When are we going to see that book?” I don’t know. Where do you buy your books?

    “You’re not pitching?” I’ve hashed it out with that person. We’re still on good terms, yet I can’t seem to cool the singe.

    “Have you met Rhonda? Probably not. She doesn’t go to any conferences.” Crime Bake – 6 times. CT Fiction Fest – 3 times. Don Maass workshops – twice. Robert McKee Story – twice. Writers Police Academy – 1 (this year will make twice). MODAScon – 1. Forensics University – 1. Bouchercon Albany -1. Seascape – 1.

    “There IS a romance in it SOMEWHERE, right?” Yeah, there IS but what of it if there isn’t?

    Plus, a composite paraphrase of conflicting ideas: “You need to smile through your wrists, take no sides, ride through the middle ground yet write in an authentic voice.” WTF?

    • Oh all excellent land mines. That first one is really obnoxious. It’s not something we can control unless we self pub and even then there is so much work before you can publish something, ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Carrie Rubin says:

    I still tend to be rather tight-lipped about my writing. I worry people will think I’m crazy for trying to give it a go. So I suppose that’s my landmine–other people’s perceptions. But we all know perceptions aren’t the same as reality, so I suspect much of it is in my own mind.

    • Lol. If the comments I get are any indication, your perception is not be so off. Some people get that writing is a career and publishing is a distinct industry. Others, well, some people just don’t get it. Words have power and sometimes it’s better to not talk about something too much. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Mayumi-H says:

    Table-lunge-worthy indeed, Kourtney. ๐Ÿ™‚

    My worst one:
    “I *do* want to read your story. You just need to give it to me.” [Folder with manuscript has been sitting on table for three months, untouched.] How does he want it given to him? Through a straw? Because I can arrange that.

    I’ve also gotten the “My son/daughter loves writing, too! They’re the first really serious person I’ve ever met about writing.” [Meanwhile, we have been friends for almost twenty years.]

    • Omg, there is nothing worse than someone who nags to read your stuff but never reads it. The saying one thing and doing another is a personal pet peeve. It can be a friendship ender for me.

  7. Ally Bean says:

    Those are all dreadful, passive-aggressive things to say to a writer. I’ve never aspired to publishing a book [keeping a blog is about all I can handle right now], but should I ever go that route, at least, I now know what I have to look forward to.

    [Not quite the same, but I’ve had ppl tell me that I need to collect some of my blog posts and turn them into a book. Why? So that said person will then want to read what I’ve written because books are real, but blogs aren’t.] o.0

  8. When someone asks me what kind of books i write. I respond with i write fantasy novels and short stories, and they roll their eyes and say, “Oh so no real stories?”

    • Wow that’s awful. I’ve gotten that response when people read Six Train and ask what else I have. I say I have a YA novel coming out and they tell me they don’t read juvenile fiction. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. diannegray says:

    The land mine that gets my goat is ‘I could have written that!’ Well, I say, why didn’t you? LOL
    My best friend is a successful artist and when we were at lunch one day the waiter came up to our table and said to my friend, ‘I saw your latest work at the gallery – I could have painted that!’ Oh dear, it’s not just writers that get this type of comment.

    • Oh my! That is an awful one. It’s so incredibly arrogant to say that. Exactly. Then Take the time and put in the time and do it. I get being arrogant enough to think it, but rude enough to say it to someone. Wow just wow. Lol. It seems to happen in the arts a lot.

  10. Thankfully I have never been blown up in a land mine.. LOL.. but then I am no literary artist .. People can be incredibly hurtful via their thoughtless remarks Kourtney …. Sending a Hug over the airwaves…. And I am sure you try not to take these remarks to heart if you ever receive them….. Much Love … Sue x

    • Thanks Sue. I do receive these remarks more than I would like. ๐Ÿ™ I try not to blow up but you get enough of them and your blood pressure shoots up.

      • I shouldn’t wonder either… We all of us get sensitive about our work… And while I invite constructive criticism, There is a whole lot of difference to some one who is perhaps just jealous and abusive.. xxx

        Keep shining, and erase all of those mindless comments from your mind…. Love You! xox Sue ๐Ÿ™‚

        • I think there is also a big difference between someone sharing their knowledge and someone with no knowledge pretending to be an expert. That can be very harmful. Lol. Thanks. It helped to post about it! Hugs, K

  11. That first one! Ugly face at that!
    Hope your summer’s going well! (Happy face!)

  12. Sometimes I regret telling people that I write, or that I’m working on a novel manuscript. I get those looks like “you’re still working on that thing?” I try to be upbeat when I hear “So, how’s that novel coming along?” — especially when it’s tinged with condescension. Of course everyone that doesn’t write is expectantly waiting (still waiting, that is) on my best seller to hit the shelves. JK Rowling did it, right?

    • Yup. People don’t realize it can take years to write and revise it. And even when you get to the shopping around point–more years. Omg, why don’t people realize there are only 1% of writers that blow up like that? No one realizes it’s usually a 10 year overnight success. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. Lori D says:

    Yep. I get it. When I tell people I’m a writer, I get one of two extremes that happen. 1) They act like I’m some kind of a slacker who doesn’t want to work. Or, 2) They say, “You’re a writer. Just what I was looking for. I need someone to write this great story that happened to me.” They think God put me in their path to tell their story for them.

    I’m sure there is more, but thanks for the outlet to express.

    • I get #2 often too. As if writing the story is just transcribing and they were waiting for a typist. They have no idea how long it takes to bring a book to market and how much you have to love that book to stick with it. Ideas are the easy part.

      • Lori D says:

        Oh yes, and that reminds me of another one. People think because they have an idea, they’re a writer. Since I belong to the FL writer’s Assoc, our writer’s critique group is advertised. So, we get all kinds who want to join. Some have plopped their story down in front of us as if they have the ultimate sensation of the century. Oh, and they think we can fix it for them. After six years in this group, and two years of being the leader, I figured out a way to weed out the hard-working real writers from the pretenders. I have a great group of writers with me now, but I’m sure more pretenders will try to join at some point. Just venting, because sometimes it gets frustrating when these people come along.

        • Or that the writing is the easy part and others can do that for them. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thank goodness you found a way to separate the people who want to work on their craft vs. the people who want a name on a book. That’s awesome that you found like minded people. I was a part of CTRWA and we had a nice critique group but it was 5 pages a month and it was too slow for getting a manuscript ready. Everyone was great about providing feedback and helping each other along the route to becoming a better writer. I totally understand the need to vent–that’s what this post was all about! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. jmmcdowell says:

    Ah, ditto what Gwen said! I know some people think I’ve wasted my time if I still haven’t published anything in the 5 years since I started my first manuscript. They don’t realize how much work goes into learning the craft or how many bestsellers are the result of a decade or more of blood, sweat, and tears to get the story right.

    Sometimes, I simply answer with a shrug and smile and then change the topic. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • It’s so true. It took me 7 years to write, revise and finally sell my first manuscript. Most of those years were spent learning my craft, honing a query, and becoming a better writer. ๐Ÿ™‚ Non-writers have no idea what it involves. It’s the ten year overnight success story affect. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      That’s a good approach. I’ll try that next time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Fortunately I haven’t had many ‘helpful’ comments like those, but it does irritate a bit when people talk casually about how they might write a book one day, never having even put pen to paper before – as if it was that easy ๐Ÿ™‚

    • You are lucky to have ducked those comments. Oh yes. That does bother me too. As if they are talking about painting their toe nails. Because you know it’s just a matter of sitting down and doing it. Easy peasy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. Aquileana says:

    Good one, Kourt… The second point is truly out of place…
    Next time “You should” answer them “you do yours, I do mine” ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Happy weekend, Aquileana ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. EllaDee says:

    Speaking of goats… I love this quote – “Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.” Sue Grafton

    • That’s awesome! I’ve had several people tell me “I have a great idea for a novel, maybe you can write it.” And act like I should be grateful that they are willing to share this golden idea me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Any thoughts or reactions or favorite foods you want to share?