Writers – Don’t Be the Party Guest From Hell

writer from hell

Have you read my latest book?

Most writers understand that social media is like a party. And despite many of us preferring to skewer our eyeballs with our quill pens rather than attend one, in our normal, non-writerly lives, we actually know how to behave at a party.

  1. You don’t stand at the door and scream “Here I am!”
  2. You don’t jump up and down in the middle on a pogo stick yelling “Please notice me, I’m nice! You’ll like me!”
  3. You don’t wear a T-shirt with your life story on it and hand out pamphlets containing all the bits that wouldn’t fit on the T-shirt.
  4. You do converse politely and ask questions without looking over someone’s shoulder to see if someone more important has arrived.

And so on.

Yet something happens to us when we morph into that terrifying creature – The Writer With a Book to Promote. All etiquette goes out of the window. We forget how to behave at parties and turn into the Guest from Hell. We squeeze mention of our beloved tome into every possible conversation, resulting in conversations like these:

Dialogue One

Innocent Normal Party Guest: Hi, I’m Susan, nice to meet you.

Writer Guest from Hell (WGFH): Did you say “meet”? OMG, “meet” is the third word from paragraph two of Chapter One of my shape shifting book “A Vampire Millionaire Ate My Gay Hamster”! You must be telepathic! Do you want to see? Here I’ve got a few copies, I’ll show you…

Dialogue Two:

Innocent Normal Party Guest: Hi, I’m Susan, nice to meet you.

WGFH: Hi Susan, my name is Fiona Cameron Tankard, also known as F.C.Tankard author of “One Tweet and I Was Gone – a Psychic Relates the Last Thoughts of Coal Miners’ Canaries” available on Amazon Kindle for just $1 this week only…

Dialogue Three:

Innocent Normal Party Guest: Hi, I’m Susan, nice to meet you. I’m a Scorpio, what about you?

WGFH: Scorpio – that’s like a scorpion, right? I think they’re found in the desert. Hey – if you add “s” to desert you get “dessert” – that’s amazing because I’ve written about desserts in my new book: “Teach Your Cat to Cook”.

Dialogue Four:

Innocent Normal Party Guest: Hi, I’m Susan, nice to meet you.

WGFH: Hi Susan, I’m Fiona, nice to meet you. I can’t help noticing you’re pregnant. What an amazing coincidence because I’ve just written a book called “Bat Keeping for Teens”. Do you want a copy? It might be useful in a few years when your little one is grown up and you get a bat. Or look, I’ll tell you what, it’s on Kindle, I can easily make some changes. Cross out “teens” put “babies”. I mean, the bats won’t know the difference. Susan? Hello? Where’s she gone?

Then there is the ultimate conversation between TWO Writer Guests From Hell. I use the term “conversation” in its loosest possible sense.

Dialogue Five:

WGFH 1: Hi, I’m Susan, author of “The Glittery Ghost of Tinsel Hill”. It’s number 1 on Amazon in the Sparkly Spooks for Singles Living in Latvia category. I can sign a copy for you if you like. I have a special pen.

WGFH 2: I have my own special pen, thank you very much, which I only use to autograph copies of my book “Detective ‘Red ‘Admiral and The Case of the Cursed Cocoon in the Crypt”. It too is an Amazon bestseller in the Lepidoptery Private Eye category, I’ll have you know!

The moral? Well, you’re not a half wit. At the party that is social media, be caring, be nice, be a good listener, be interesting and maybe, if you’re lucky – someone will ask you about your book. And if they do, only mention it once. OMG, did I just write “once”?   That’s amazing, because that’s almost an anagram of one of the characters I nearly included in my novel…

(Exit, pursued by a bare faced cheek)

Turning Tedium into Triumph

We all know the kind of thing. Mind-draining, soul-sapping  routine jobs at work or at home. Your eyes start to glaze over at the very idea of writing 1500 wizardly words on widgets, or doing the pile of ironing lurking in the corner.

As I am a great believer in reprogramming your mind to make life better, I have been trying a new technique recently. I now aim to approach every single task with the attitude that this is the best work I will ever do. It’s a sort of heady mix of two concepts: “living in the moment” and “appreciating what you have”.

It is amazing how this little mind trick works. It takes time to make it habitual and I am constantly having to pull myself up when I find myself reverting to default “this is boring” mode. However, to my great surprise, I am now really enjoying small jobs I used to find incredibly tedious, challenging myself to do them better and better.

It works for all areas of life, so as I chop endless carrots for the alpacas or haul the dogs out on an uphill walk when I don’t feel like it, I think – “do this as if it will be the last time you ever do it, make these carrots the best you have ever chopped, make this walk the most amazing the dogs have ever had”.

It slams you headlong back into the present moment. Makes you appreciate how lucky you are to be working with words for a living, having alpacas to chop carrots for and dogs who love you.

Try it!


Anne Rice on Writing

When I need motivation or inspiration, I love listening to well-known writers talking about their craft and passing on their words of wisdom.  In this short YouTube video, novelist Anne Rice (The Vampire Chronicles) gives some great advice, expressed beautifully, including the magical phrases “write the book of your dreams” and “Be brave, reach for the fire from heaven.”

Need Inspiration? Just Watch This.

I have been spending a half hour or so each morning watching soul-stirring stuff on the wonderful Ted Talks site. It never fails to deliver.

And in case you think your heart strings can't be tugged any more, that the hairs on the backs of your arms are immune to rising in response to a few well-chosen words, that you have your tear ducts well under control, just watch this. Truly, truly inspirational.