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?
Some writerly quirks are simply shared characteristics of gifted word painters - via @LoriHatcher2 (Click to Tweet)
4 Secrets Writers Won't Tell Non-writers About Themselves - via @LoriHatcher2 on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)
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.