How to Deal with the Writer in Your Life

Friends, Romans, countrymen...general people of the population: hear my words. At this very moment, National Novel Writing Month is sucking the creative energy out of a group of hundreds of thousands of people like those horrible syringes they use to extract bone marrow.

And just like a bone marrow harvesting procedure, we all brought this on ourselves, so when we go through the blistering pain and moments of light-headed euphoria, we have only ourselves to blame.

So why do it, you may ask? Why should you learn how to deal with the writer in your life constantly moaning about writing when she is the very one who chose to do this in the first place?

I love NaNoWriMo. I really do. We're at just about the exact halfway point day-wise, and I'm at just about the exact halfway point word-wise. 22,189 words, to be exact, that I've written since November 1st.

That's words of my novel alone. It doesn't factor in that I write thousands of words every day for my job, plus words I write on this blog (which admittedly I've had to let slide a little...)

In order to combat this constant draining of creative energy (some would say using creative energy, but I've found draining to be more accurate for how it feels), I've done a few helpful things. I've listened to Elizabeth Gilbert's podcast about creativity and LOVED IT. I have read a couple of books on the train. And I've been listening to more music. Armin van Buuren's new album 'Embrace', in particular, is rocking my world.

I've also had an unusual amount of wine, but that's beside the point.

Here's the point -- of this blog anyway. Do you know a writer who's going through all of this right now? Maybe she isn't even doing NaNoWriMo. Maybe she's always a hot mess of creative funk and too many characters talking in her head. Maybe he's stumbling around unshaven and dazed, with a facial expression that screams, "If I could just resolve this one plot point, I will have fixed it all!"

Or maybe you don't know any writers, in which case, November is all pumpkin spice lattes and cozy scarves and early Christmas shopping.

But here's the thing. If you do know a writer, whether they're trying to smash out a novel this month or not, there will probably come a time about halfway through whatever they're writing where they feel like it's


and everything they will ever write is


and so they will always and forever feel like every shiny idea that comes into their head will inevitably result in


Most writers (I say most because Norman Mailer seemed to think everything he wrote was no less than genius) go through this phase. It is normal. Like two-year-olds going through tantrums is normal.

And just like with a two-year-old, often the best solution to our emo woe-is-me-this-novel-is-crap-and-therefore-I-am-crap sentiment is to put your hands on that writer's shoulders, look him in the eye, and say, "Just stop. Breathe. You're okay."

There are other things you can do. Buy your wife a chocolate rose, like my gallant man did for me the other day. Give that coworker with the bloodshot eyes from an all-night writing sesh a bottle of Visine and a surprise coffee. Buy the writer in your life an adult coloring book or a gift card for an online writing course. Make him a playlist on Spotify of songs you think might be inspiring, or at the very least will drown out whatever weird show you're binge watching on Netflix that's distracting him from the words.

Or, you know, just do the housework so your partner can lock the door of the study and tap away without stressing about the pile of dirty dishes.

These are just a few suggestions for how to deal with the writer in your life. November can be a rough month for the family, friends, and spouses of writers. But there's a lot you can do to help bring that novel into the world, and we writers thrive on the support and enthusiasm of the people we love helping us chase our dreams.

Did I miss anything? If you're a writer, what would you like your family and friends to do this month to help you finish NaNoWriMo strong?

Image credit: Flickr / andrew smith / 2012