Writers are a weird lot.
They are weird because they are equal parts artist and philosopher; this makes them a nightmare to date.
The best advice for dating a writer is, of course, to avoid dating a writer at all costs. However, if you feel compelled to do so, here is some advice to help you navigate the consequences of your decision.
It is obligatory to repeat that this is a terrible idea. Continue at your own risk.
1. Take your writer to a coffee shop.
Writers love coffee shops. They like drinking coffee because it keeps them awake, which gives them more time to write. Also, lots of famous literary scenes take place in coffee shops, and writers love pretending that their lives are like famous literary scenes.
2. Be honest about your favorite author or book. Don’t lie and say you like something you really don’t. Writers can detect a book lie immediately and they don’t like book lies one bit.
Even if you can’t name an author besides Dr. Seuss and you haven’t read a book since graduating, it’s better to be upfront about it than to name-drop something cooler or more esoteric. Some writers might end it there, because some writers are unfair like that, but that’s better than giving them a false sense of who you are — bookwise.
3. Accept the fact that they will write about you.
The thing about writers is that they are alive and they write, and they draw on the experience of the former to work on the latter. If you become part of a writer’s life, you may very well end up in their work. This means they like you and they think about you a lot. Be — or at least act — flattered when this happens.
If in doubt, remember: “Everything you say in bed is going to show up in a poem.” —Saeed Jones
4. Accept the fact that they will write about you and it may not be nice.
It’s best not to ask questions like “Is this character supposed to be me?” “Why did you make me sound awful?” and “What the fuck, I never even said that.” Your writer will only be forced to lie and tell you that it’s not personal. Writers do not like lying in real life (only in fiction). For the record, it is always personal.
5. If a writer shows you their work, they want one of two things: critique or support. Give it to them.
If you know your writer well enough, you should be able to tell if they need praise. Phrases like “I love this” and “I read it in your voice” are acceptable go-to praises, but honest critique is situational and cannot be codified. If all else fails, nitpick on their grammar so they know you read the text and could only find fault in the minute details.
6. Young adult lit, like Harry Potter, is a safe zone.
Most writers love YA lit. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Giver, and loads of other young adult books hold a special place in even the most serious and esoteric writer’s heart. If you ever are at a loss for what to talk about, what to compare a book to, or what to get a writer for their birthday — fall back on YA lit. You’re welcome.
7. Learn the balance between encouraging them and making them (more) miserable.
Writers beat themselves up because they know in their hearts that they will never be as good as they want to be. They will combat these feelings of self-loathing by writing as much as possible, but will occasionally fall victim to writer’s block. You can try encouraging them to ease them out of the slump, but the far side of encouragement is judgement, and writers judge themselves enough.
8. Writers are like horses: You shouldn’t be allowed to get one unless you can offer them lots of space.
Writers write, and writing takes time. Do not be offended if your writer can’t hang out sometimes, or comes to bed late, or forgets to call you back. That said, there’s a fine line between taking needed time to work and being an asshole, which leads us to our next point:
9. Don’t let them get away with being an asshole.
Just because someone is a writer does not mean you should put up with extra bullshit. Writers are responsible for their actions, and even though they might try to use their writing as an excuse for bad or neglectful behavior, they’re still accountable for what they do.
10. And finally, prepare yourself to be loved.
Writers love harder and deeper than most people. They will love you like they love their favorite book, which honestly should terrify you. Writers are disorganized, spacey, and forgetful — but if you inspire them they will devote themselves to you as if you hold their life in your hands. You probably will. Good luck with that.
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