So your friend tells you he wants to be a writer. You get that uncomfortable look of confusion mixed with uncertain smile – kind of like when someone tells you they’re pregnant but you can’t tell if they’re happy about it or not. “Okay,” you say. “A writer. Good. You do that.” Then you think, There. I was supportive. I’ll read whatever my friend writes and say I like it whether I do or not. That should be the end of it.
Unfortunately, the truth is, we writers need a little bit more than that from our support systems. We are a creative, temperamental bunch who assume the worst about everything we write until someone validates us but telling us otherwise. If we somehow manage to achieve that miracle of miracles and get published, we are truly shocked when we discover that someone has actually read what we’ve written. Those awkward moments of standing in front of you, wide-eyed and eagerly exclaiming, “Look, I’m writing!” will pop up more and more often. Soon, you’ll discover, that something more than an uncertain smile might be required.
So what can you do to show your writer friends that you actually do support them? Well, let me give you some hints:
1. If your writer friend is actually published (a feat so statistically difficult to achieve that non-writers can’t even begin to imagine the improbability of such an occurrence) WRITE A REVIEW FOR THEM. This is so much easier than you may think. I’m not talking about writing a full-length article or blog post detailing the various aspect of your friend’s work (although those are awesome, too!). I’m saying go on Amazon, click on your friend’s work and say “I really liked it!” or “Not my favorite, but a decent read.” or “Hated it. Will never read from this author again.” and give it a star rating. Reviews on sites like Amazon or B&N are linked to the amount of publicity that a work receives from that site. So good, bad, or ugly, reviews are an excellent way to support your writer friends.
2. BE HONEST. Yes, we are a huffy bunch. Yes, our egos are more easily bruised that a two-week old peach in October. But after we get over our huffiness, we really do appreciate honest feedback. You didn’t like the story – why not? You thought the dialogue was unrealistic – how so? You liked the story but the writing just didn’t seem to work – well, you’re just an a**hole. (Not really, of course) The truth is feedback will make us better writers. And if we are trusting you with our words, we really do want to know what you think.
3. READ WHAT WE WRITE. Whether it’s a blog post, a magazine article, a short story, or a novel; whether it’s on the NYT Bestseller list or just a note on Facebook; whether it’s a sci-fi horror story or a story about our kids’ first day of Pre-school – we are sharing a very personal part of ourselves with you, our friends. If you can take a little time to read it, it would mean more to us than fifty, five-star reviews because you are important enough for us to want to share this with you.
So there you go, folks. Some easy, fairly painless ways to show support for your writer friends. Sure, it might take a few minutes out of your day, but isn’t it worth it to avoid those awkward, what-am-I-suppose-to-say moments with someone you love?