10 Ways to Show Kindness to Writers and Editors
September, I found out just a week ago, happens to be “Be Kind to Writers and Editors Month,” and while this is a bit too late, the cliche goes, better late than never. I didn’t know there was actually a month that encouraged everyone and sundry to show a little more loving to writers and editors, who have such vast egos that need a lot of stroking. (Do I hear someone saying, “Shoot all the writers”?)
Here are ten things you can do to show some kindness to writers and editors this September and always:
1. Give them a few hours of silence. Writing is an arduous task that involves a lot of thinking, so show a little respect by keeping your voices down when writers or editors are working. I can tell you, a writer who is struggling to put together a fantastic punch-them-in-the-solar-plexus lead is not a good person to cross.
2. Send them great articles you’ve come across–they will love you for it! Writers and editors are probably the only people who will appreciate that very funny piece you saw over at Jugglezine or the theater review on New York Times that you couldn’t stop reading and re-reading. I am sure you will get a lengthy and excited (dare I say breathless) comment, more than the one-word “thanks” that most people will send back.
3. Send them a complimentary cup of coffee when they’re writing. I love a hot cup of mocha from Starbucks. I just thought you should know.
4. Mean it when you say “I love your blog/book/piece . . . ,” especially so when you’re dating a writer. They’ll understand if you don’t dig chick lit or spec fic, and they’ll love you more if you don’t pretend you do.
5. What you see as surfing idly is actually feeding the mind. Most corporations clamp down on what they deem as personal use of the Internet, but in truth, writers need to read everything–Jehovah’s Witnesses pamphlets, hair removal treatments, captions, even billboards–because the only way to improve one’s writing is to read, read, read. So the next time you catch me on New York Times reading something about theater, you know I’m doing supplementary reading.
6. Don’t comment on the Barry Manilow playlist. Just don’t say anything about a writer’s choice of music. Some writers need music when they write; others don’t. They’ll love you if you don’t smirk when “Weekend in New England” is playing.
7. Respect their away time. Sometimes a writer does need to recharge and step back from the world. You can be sure she’ll come back when she’s ready to write (and you can bet it’ll be soon). You can be a good boss by giving writers a complimentary pass at their favorite spa (I am thinking of a Balinese boreh scrub right this minute–can you read my mind, boss?)
8. Pay promptly and don’t wait to be billed. This applies to projects, especially. Nothing is more stressful to a writer than having to remind you that your cheque is two months delayed. Be kind. Like everybody else, writers don’t live on bread alone (they need Starbucks coffee and a Balinese boreh scrub too).
9. Give them books, lots of them! If your girlfriend hated the marked-down book from the thrift store that you gave her just because, you can be sure you’ll be greeted with a big smile when you give writers books as gifts.
10. Invite them for coffee and some brilliant conversation, which may not have anything to do about writing, but they’ll appreciate the mental workout.