Guidelines for Writer Care: Teen Writer Maggie Marsden-Sparrow Explains It All

An artist friend sent me this hilarious and spot-on list of things you need to understand about writers, by her friend’s 14-year-old daughter, Maggie Marsden-Sparrow. She is an aspiring author who shares her work in online forums for youth. Maggie and her mother have kindly given me permission to reprint it here. She’s certainly got my number. So please don’t ask me why I spent all my poetry prize money on comic books and fake body parts. I’m just researching the Endless Sequel.

Guidelines for Writer Care

For yours and your writer’s continued health and happiness, here’s a few guidelines for writer care. I don’t claim to be an expert, just a writer in my own right. I don’t imagine all of this will be the same for all writers either, this is just what I know to be true for me.
-Do not under any circumstances ask when their book will be done. Ever.
-Please don’t call the police or fear for your life if you catch a glimpse of their browsing history. I can promise you they aren’t planning a murder or becoming a prostitute, just doing some research.
-If your writer zones out during a conversation, PLEASE assume they are not bored with you, simply got an idea.
-On a similar note, if your writer looks/seems a bit off, they’re probably just in the middle of a story in their head. Approach with humour and/or food.
-If your writer has become depressed by their own writing, fear not, it will not linger. Simply comfort in any and all ways needed.
-If your writer is rambling about something story related, unless there’s an emergency or your self-care is in jeopardy, DO NOT INTERRUPT THEM. Don’t pop yourself in the middle and start talking about your own stuff, don’t tell them to “Hold that thought” while you go do the laundry. Nothing is worse than being suddenly shut down in a moment of excitement, and even if you do come back to talk to them, there’s a good chance they won’t have the initial readiness to talk about it anymore.
-In the event that your writer has been writing for more than 3 or 4 hours straight, pop by to check up on them. Don’t interrupt if they’re in the zone, but if they acknowledge your presence it’s safe to gently suggest they eat/drink/take care of any other needs. Self care can be hard when you’re inspired, and though they might resist, they’ll thank you for it later.
Probably one of the most important rules is to NEVER judge a writer by their:
-Research. As previously mentioned, just because they looked up different kinds of recreational drugs, doesn’t mean they plan on partaking in any.
-Characters. Characters are meant to be diverse, so if the main character thinks murder is “fun” or a supporting character is homophobic, that will basically never mean the writer shares the same thoughts or morals.
-Story board. Even if there’s people in chains or a picture of surgical knives, do NOT purse your lips or say “Why do you have pictures of this stuff” to a writer, because they will get anxious and probably never show you their story board again.
-Story. Even if your writer is the happiest, most delicate flower, they may end up writing horror or brutal fight scenes. Writing isn’t 100% meant to reflect the writers soul, it’s meant as a form of storytelling. And even if they write a scene full of colourful swear words, they’ll still be whoever they were before.

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