I can’t speak for all writers because all writers are different because we’re all people and people are all different. There are plenty of lists on Buzzfeed or eHarmony that offer tips or the pros and cons of dating a writer—and I don’t like them. I feel like they are incomplete or paint a very one-note picture of a writer.
Now, I’ve never dated a writer, but I am a writer and I work with writers and I write for writers and I’m friends with writers, so I thought I’d have some more specific tips to give on this matter that may be of interest to people in the dating scene who wish to date a writer.
1. Woo them with books. Here’s the thing about me and most of the writers that I know: we love to read. That’s why we fell into writing. We all have our own preferences, though. For example, I wouldn’t get my fellow blogger and co-creator Melanie Figueroa a Shakespeare play because I know Shakespeare isn’t her thing (it’s my thing), but I would seek out contemporary authors like Chuck Palahniuk or Margaret Atwood, because I know authors like that are her favorite. Being specific and knowing your writer’s taste is key to this.
One of my writer friends has a writer girlfriend, and he and I ended up traveling to Taiwan last summer to teach. He found her favorite book, The Great Gatsby, in the bookstore we visited in Taiwan and got her a copy of it in Chinese. He then had our host read the first two pages of the book in Chinese and recorded it so his girlfriend could listen to her favorite book in this language she didn’t speak. I thought that was terribly romantic, and I’m sure she did too.
All of that being said, it’s really not about the price of the book. Writers are often ones who can appreciate older, used books. Don’t go buy the latest release of your writer’s favorite author if you don’t need to. We’re not greedy. You don’t have to break the bank over us.
2. Be open to different communication styles. This tip is really true for dating, in general, but I think it’s especially poignant for writers. I talk a lot. But that’s not true for all writers. A lot of writers are the quiet type that communicate better through email or text than they do face to face. All writers are generally better with written words than with spoken words, whether we talk a lot or are quiet. I say stupid things all the time that, after I think about them, I’d like to take back.
Writers are thinkers, and thinkers need time to properly figure out what they want to say, how they want to say it, and how to best communicate those two things to the person they are dating. If I’m quiet after a movie, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it—I just want to think about it and process my thoughts on it. If I bring up something different and talk to you about the movie a few days later or in a text message or something, it’s not that I didn’t want to say it to you after the movie, it’s that I needed time to process how to say these things and I felt more comfortable communicating them at a later date.
So be ready for that with your writer. We’ll take a bit of time to process what we really want to say, and we may be more comfortable saying it in writing than in a face-to-face setting. It’s not you, it’s us.
3. We don’t necessarily need space, but we do need silence. Again, all writers are different, but there is one universal thing we all need: time to write. It is, after all, what we do. This is our job, or our passion, and we need space to do such. Now, some of us want that space to be literal. If we’re kicking you out of our apartment because it’s time for us to write and we prefer to do it alone, we mean just that. It’s not that we’re writing about you, or that we have another date coming over. Some writers just really need alone time to write.
Melanie and I both don’t mind having someone around while we’re working and writing, but we do need silence. Sometimes we’ll sit down while you’re playing video games or reading a book, and we’ll start to write. But when you finish your task, please don’t interrupt ours. We’re still writing. Even if we look frustrated and our fingers aren’t on the keys, it’s part of our writing process. We don’t need your assistance. Interrupting a frustrated writer is a great way to start a fight. And, as Melanie put it, if you continuously interrupt us while we’re working, you shouldn’t be surprised if a character that closely resembles you ends up dead in some horrific fashion in our latest story.
I’m a fairly social person, which I’ve been told is strange for a writer. There are lots of times when I just need silence to write, but I’m also good at ignoring people when they are being loud around me and I need to focus on the task at hand. I’m not ignoring someone because I dislike them—I’m ignoring them because I’m doing my work. I will, in the process of writing, take breaks and have conversations, text friends, log onto Facebook, or turn to the person sitting near me and pester them a little. But when I’m done with that and I go back into the writing zone, I’m going to go back to ignoring the people around me. That’s just the way I, and some other writers, work.
Hopefully these three tips help you successfully navigate any future relationships with writers you may have. If you have your own suggestions, please comment below!
You can follow Amanda on Twitter @ThePandaBard, on Pinterest @ThePandaBard, or on Medium @ThePandaBard. You can also find her research on Academia.Edu at Cpp.Academia.Edu/MandaRiggle.