22 July 2017

Why Being a Writer is the Best Excuse Ever

(bad girl, back to her silly self)

There are all sorts of reasons for being a writer.  (Money isn’t one of them, in case you were wondering.  Unless, of course, you are a masochist.  Then again, many writers are.  We’d have to be, to put up with this biz.  But I digress.)

Many of us write because we can’t help it.  All sorts of demented characters have taken over our loopy minds.  If we don’t let them out to live their own lives on paper, all sorts of bad things will happen.  For instance, they may induce us writers to perform their fantasies in reality, on behalf of their little selves.  This might be fun if you are writing erotica.  Not so great, if you’re a crime writer, like me.

That aside, there are many reasons that being a writer can be great fun.  You get to kill people on paper.  (Okay, I’m just now realizing how twisted that sounds.) 

Moving on, being a writer gives you all sorts of excuses for bizarre and socially-inept behavior.  In social situations, friends can look over at you, shake their heads, and say confidentially to others, “It’s okay, really.  She’s a writer.”  Sort of how being an Australian explains things.

Here are some things that can really work to your advantage (reword: you can work to your advantage.)

The Research:  writing a book gives one all sorts of excuses to do research.  This can be as innocent as merely looking up things on the internet (exactly what is the distinction between hot romance and porn? Checking Yutube…hey, every writer knows Show Not Tell is best.)

The Bar:  all writers meet in bars, right?  Certainly all agents and editors do.  Especially those from out of town who don’t have offices in the vicinity.  “I have to meet my editor at The Drake,” you call out to all concerned.  And then you gather up your laptop, notebooks and cell phone.  The hard part is, you must remember to bring all those things back from the bar after your ‘meeting’. 

The Deadline:  your major excuse for getting out of any dull social obligations, including ant-infested picnics and relative-infested gatherings.  “I’m on deadline!” you cry frantically, even if your deadline is nine months from now.  (Nine months…nice metaphor.  Probably, I came up with it while in The Zone.  See below.)

In case you are still not convinced that being a writer is the best excuse ever, let me introduce you to The Zone.  This is the place your writer-mind travels to when it really doesn’t want to be where your body is. You can zone out at any time, in any social situation. 

Enjoy this.  Milk this.  Smile and look distracted .  Your boss, inlaws or editor will nod knowingly, as if they are a party to a big secret.  They will look upon you sympathetically and say to each other, “Oh.  He’s planning his next book.” 

Which can be really useful if what you are really planning is how to do away with your boss, inlaws, or editor.


  1. Really enjoyed all of this, Melodie -- but "The Zone" particularly resonated. With two writers in our family, Tara and I have gotten used to that look the other one has when he/she is thinking of some plot point or bit of character development or whatever. Novel head, writing head, whatever you call it, we've learned to both indulge and accommodate.

    And then meet up at the bar (even the home bar) later in the day to discuss! :-)

  2. Good article. Like Art's comment about The Zone. I'm in The Zone a lot. My wife understands, although she thinks I mask my inattentiveness when I tell her I wasn't listening because I was at a crime scene in New Orleans in 1900. It was disconcerting when I was a real detective when I'd suddenly say something that the characters in my mind were saying as I daydreamed and the other cops wuld ask, "What was that?"

  3. Fun post, Melodie. We've all been there...and continue to visit.

    I've used the deadline excuse more often than I can count, too. My wife does lots of theater and gets the "Zone" look when she's figured out something about a character, too. It's almost the same as the planning (which I do mostly on a cardio machine) for a story.

    My biggest problem is that several of my stories involve music, so I have to be careful not to go into the zone while I perform. I'm lousy enough as it is.

  4. Heh, I'm frequently in the Zone. It used to make The Hubby angry, now he just shakes his head when I suddenly look at him and say, "I'm sorry - I missed the last 10 minutes of this conversation."


  5. Art, I can't even *imagine* having two writers in the family! But oh, it would be fun. Especially at 'bar time.' grin

  6. O'Neil, you have had the best 'day' career for a crime writer imaginable! (Except perhaps my own relations. But they hail from a different...em...career.) Got a big kick out of your daydreaming on the job.

  7. Steve, I can't tell you how many times I 'zoned' when I was supposed to be doing something else. I can relate on the music front. I learned to read music before I learned to read language. To this day, I can't have music playing and do anything else at the same time, like write. I hear it as a language, and it takes over my brain.

  8. Mary, your husband would get along with mine just fine, grin. Thanks for commenting!

  9. "Okay, I’m just now realizing how twisted that sounds." Oh, Melodie, we writers have ALWAYS known how twisted that sounds - we just don't care. Like when people ask, where do you get your ideas? And I say, I hear voices in my head. It's always fun to have certifiable behavior justified. :)

  10. Eve, we are definitely kindred spirits. No way can I explain where my ideas come from. Especially for comedy. I have to assume when people ask "where do you get your ideas" - that they are asking because they don't come up with plots themselves, and are wondering how it's done. If only we knew.

  11. Melodie; Loved it! Loved it! Loved it!

  12. Jeff - Love you! Love you! Love you! grin (thanks!)

  13. Enjoyed your post, Melodie. I've used just about every excuse you mention. Research is an especially handy excuse, especially when writers don't feel like getting down to the hard work of actually writing. We can always decide we need to do more research before tackling the next scene, and use that as an excuse for spending a pleasant hour or so clicking around on the Internet, gathering interesting bits of information we'll probably never use.

  14. Mel, the beauty of a deadline is that as long as you have one, you can always be on deadline, no matter how far away that deadline is. It reminds me of a time I got pulled over on the highway for speeding and I told the officer I was driving to my brother's house to babysit because he and his wife had a funeral to attend. And that was true. Sure, the funeral was the next day, but why load the officer down with so much detail? (Postscript: He was super nice, and he still gave me a ticket.)

  15. Bk, I'm smiling re your 'research'. That's what I plan to do for the next month. (Made my deadline for The Goddaughter Does Vegas by a few weeks. It goes in Monday. That means I can 'research' for a few weeks - grin.) Thanks for commenting!

  16. Barb, I must tell you about the time I got pulled over for speeding. "PLEASE, can I sit in your car," I pleaded. "I'm a crime writer!" Talk about a way to confuse the poor lad. He didn't let me sit in it, but he showed me it from the outside, and pointed out all the gadgets. Man that was fun.


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