Friday, November 28, 2014

4 Secrets Writers Won’t Tell You About Themselves

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

Writers have a reputation for being a little odd. Kind friends call us “eccentric.” Unkind friends . . . well . . .  we won’t dwell on them. When writers get together, however, we often find that our unique quirks and habits aren’t as unique as we thought. We discover that some of our quirks are simply shared characteristics of gifted word painters.

Today I’d like to share four secrets writers won’t tell you about themselves:


We have a secret food stash. Like squirrels and chipmunks, we hide food in strategic places, usually in close proximity to our favorite writing spots. These stashes often mean the difference between life or death, because when the muse strikes, all sense of self-preservation flies out the window. Bound like slaves to our keyboards, we pound out paragraph after paragraph while the fickle muse master whispers (or shouts) ideas into our brains. Terrified that if we stop to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom, the mighty muse will get angry and punish us with the silent treatment, we work for hours without stopping. If it wasn’t for our food stashes, our families would come home to find a skeleton, still typing away, seated in our writing chairs.

We sometimes write in bed. Long after our patient spouses have fallen asleep beside us, because our brains just won’t shut off, we sometimes pull our laptops into bed and write. Some of us even have special pillows to prop ourselves up with. We keep a pen and paper or our iPhones with the notebook app open on our bedside table to record partially-formed ideas. We’ve learned that these bursts of brilliance will vanish from our brains like last week’s grocery list if we don’t capture them immediately.

We secretly covet other writers’ well-turned phrases or colorful metaphors. Forget eyeing someone’s Dooney and Burke handbag in the mall, we writers are more likely to confess and repent of our lust for someone else’s exquisite use of parallelism or masterful ability to show and not tell. Take this example from my mentor and friend, the late Sue Duffy’s novel, Fatal Loyalty: “"Far at sea, they (high-speed racer boats) would suckle from a mother ship engorged with drugs, then race to the mainland to, in turn, feed their own flocks of dealers." Yup, I had to confess and repent over wishing this one was mine.

We shamefully stalk cover design ideas and pirate the best ones. We’re not above taking a covert iPhone photo of an engaging cover design that would suit our next book perfectly. We drool over book images on Amazon like most people drool over ice cream sundaes. We submit design suggestions like we’re ordering a banana split. I want it in that color, with that stylish new font, with a half-inch bleed at the edges. Hold the tagline.

Writers are quirky people, and only other writers truly understand us. Next month I’ll add a few more idiosyncrasies to the list, but why not join the conversation? What is one secret about yourself you’d never tell your non-writing friends?

TWEETABLES



Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of two devotional books. Her second, Hungry for God…Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is available for preorder and will release soon. A blogger, writing instructor, and women’s ministry speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God…Starving for Time. Connect with her on Twitter at @LoriHatcher2 or on Facebook - Hungry for God, Starving for Time.

16 comments:

  1. I often light a candle, scented as Christmas cookie these days, and have a fresh cup of coffee nearby, before I begin.

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  2. Does this mean I have to haul out my goodies from the closet across the room and hide them so I can't find them? All those words of wisdom fit so well, and I thought no one knew.

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  3. Well said, Lori. BTW . . . have you been peeking in my window?

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  4. So true! You've exposed us all! Enjoyed your article :)

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  5. You have a secret food stash? Are you sure you're a writer...you can't afford a secret food stash :)
    So, 1: No
    2: Yes
    3: Yes
    4: No
    ~sigh~ I wish I could say "yes" to #1. I do have a t-shirt that says, "a writer's three best friends are chocolate, coffee, procrastination and chocolate" does that count?

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  6. I have major freak outs before a book comes out. It's not good enough or what if I missed something? To the point of "I'll never write again." Until that first good review comes in, then I get over it.

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  7. Most of the time, when I'm listening to a friend talk, I'm not REALLY listening because they've said something that sent a brilliant idea racing through my mind and all I can think about is that.

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  8. Anxiety attacks! Don't forget those. I never had them until I published. As for the other 4 secrets you revealed, I'm guilty of all of them.

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  9. I wish. I am constantly battling chronic writer's block and any excuse not to write sounds good to me! Which is why I write fiction serials for weekly magazines; nothing like a deadline of a weekly publication to keep me writing! But when the "Muse" hits me, I don't need food, or drink, I just need to write.

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  10. Just a codicil, my fiction serials come out as books once they're finished in the magazines :)

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  11. Well said! I can so easily relate to most of these, especially coveting well-written turns of phrase and jotting down things in the middle of the night - I know that once my eyes close again those 'brilliant' ideas are gone for good. Maybe I should take a leaf out of your book and have a hidden food stash. I usually just forget about eating completely until about six hours later when suddenly it hits me how famished I am and that I desperately need a cup of coffee.

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  12. Lori, so, so true. Yes to all 4. I have a #5.....I love the smell of paper and pencils.:) Writing my 5th book now.

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  13. Talks with spirit friends, coffee, candles and Meditation wave music, writing before dawn.

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  14. Yes to the first two, no to the last two... what's the point of longing for someone else's ideas and designs? The idea is to be unique, isn't it? I do have a bag of almonds at my desk and a notebook that I keep next to my bed though.

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  15. Ah.. you have revealed the 4 secrets of us, seriously. :)

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