Writers, Don't Be Rude

Writers, Don't Be Rude

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’m sensitive.

Like, I still sometimes feel like I’m in junior high sensitive. My friend didn’t return my text she must hate me sensitive. I got no claps on Medium today I should quit calling myself a writer sensitive.

I carry my imposter syndrome around like a designer accessory. It’s my Chanel scarf. My Kate Spade bag. I wear it well.

I would venture a guess that most writers are like this. There’s a vulnerability to sharing parts of yourself with the world. It’s this unfettered access to every deep-seated emotion that enables writers to pour so much of their soul onto the page.

That’s why it always stuns me when writers are so rude to other writers.

I’m not talking about derogatory insults. I’ve covered that already.

I’m talking about subtle rudeness. The kind where a writer blatantly ignores compliments from a fellow writer.

Examples:

  • I’ve given shout-outs to many writers in my Medium posts — from tagging their name to quoting their work to embedding links to their articles in my writing. And yet, many of these writers don’t acknowledge the support, let alone reciprocate.

  • I’ve Tweeted authors to let them know I enjoyed their work — sometimes I’ll share a link to their writing and tag them in the comments — but I hear nothing back. No comment, no like, no retweet.

  • I’ve followed fellow writers on social media, only to discover later that once I followed them, they stopped following me. (It’s a common trend and a pathetic way to boost stats without supporting others.)

  • I’ve commented on Medium articles that I’ve enjoyed — sometimes even asking a specific question about the piece — only to have my comment/question go unanswered.

C’mon guys, really? I get that we’re all busy. Even with the few followers I have, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with all the comments, and social media can be a massive time suck. I’m sure for folks who have thousands of followers it’s hard to stay on top of everything.

But I’m noticing it happening with the same people over and over. Certain writers have continuously ignored every Tweet, shout-out, tag, and comment. And not just those left by me; as I scroll through the comments left for these writers’ articles, I notice that nearly all of them are unanswered. This despite the fact that many of these “certain writers” have themselves written articles on how to best engage with readers. (Tip number one, ironically, is usually to respond to readers’ comments.)

It bugs me. It’s rude. I understand if J.K. Rowling or Stephen King doesn’t get back to me if I comment on a Tweet. But a fellow Medium writer who, like me, is just trying to get by?

It doesn’t take much to let someone know you appreciate their support:

  • If someone tags you or embeds a link to your work in their post, thank them. Literally, a simple comment with “thanks for the shout-out!” will suffice.

  • If commenting is going to take up too much of your time, clap for their post.

  • You know what? Scratch that. It’s not too much. Do both. It takes 30 seconds.

  • If someone tags you in a positive Tweet about your work, thank them. Click the little heart icon if you don’t have time to do more.

  • Reciprocate: give a shout-out back to those writers who have supported you. Share their work on social media. Give a little love back to those who have championed your writing.

  • Don’t follow someone just to get them to follow you in return; follow someone because you like their work. Continue following them whether they return the favor or not. At the end of the day, your number of followers is just that: a number. If it means that much to you to have huge stats, you can buy followers. Just ask Trump.

I’ve stopped following authors who don’t acknowledge kind words from their readers on social media. And I will no longer help promote the work of writers who don’t bother to say thanks. It’s not worth it. There are far more gracious people whose work I’d rather support.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy.

A version of this post also appeared on Medium

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