When are you getting a real job? And other ridiculous things people say to writers but really shouldn’t

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1950's woman with fingers in her ears

On the odd occasion, when I emerge from the cocoon of my pyjamas to interact with non-imaginary people – mostly due to the promise of food, which lures me like a moth to a flame – there comes a moment when someone will inevitably ask, when are you going to get a real job?

Just because I’m not J.K. Rowling (yet) doesn’t mean I don’t have a job

Yes I get to stay home most days and yes sometimes I don’t wear pants. But if I recall, the Romans wore togas and they (well, their slaves) were super hard workers who built the colosseum and lumped all pant wearing peoples into the category of barbarian. I mean, I can afford to eat from my copywriting gigs and that’s a pretty big achievement in my book, if you’ll excuse the pun – which they probably won’t.

Speaking of Romans

As the saying goes Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither are novels or any other piece of writing for that matter. Yes I have been working on ‘that little book thing you do’ for over a year and no it’s still not ready to be sent out. When it is, it will probably be rejected about 100 times and I won’t want to talk about that with you either.

At which point they’ll say, “Oh, by the way I met a real writer the other day. You know, a proper published one?” Yes I know several but please tell me more about how inadequate I am and how you wish said real writer was your friend instead.

Then they’ll probably continue digging themselves a bigger hole with some/all of the following:

  • When are you going to be published?
  • You should write a book like The Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown’s made heaps of money.
  • Aren’t you afraid no one will read your stories?
  • What if you just keep getting rejected and nothing you write ever gets published?
  • Isn’t self-publishing just for people who aren’t good enough to get published for real?
  • You write (insert genre here)? I really hate those kind of books.
  • Is blogging even classified as writing?
  • Copywriting? Oh, so you like, code websites?
  • Why would someone waste money getting you to write content for them?
  • Do you just sleep in heaps late and then hang out in your pyjamas all day?
  • Have you based a character on me? Can you?
  • I’ve got a really good idea for a novel. You could write it and then we can split the royalties.
  • When do you reckon your book will get made into a movie?

This is when you’ll tune out

Instead you’ll text your significant other/dog/cat/bearded dragon to prepare your pyjamas, chocolate and ugg boots. The real world is scary and… what was that they just said? Writing sounds easy? They’re planning on knocking over a bestseller during the holidays when they finally have some time to kill?

That’s when you know they don’t understand you or writing at all

Don’t hold it against them. Instead put your phone back in your pocket and ask, so, what’s your bestseller going to be about?

Has anyone ever said anything like this to you? How did you respond? What are some other things people have said to you about your writing?

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