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07/29/2015 08:23 am ET Updated Jan 18, 2017

#TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter Is Funny, But Also Good Etiquette

Check social media and learn, tweeple.

Twitter: Worst thing that’s ever happened to civilization, or the very worst thing that’s ever happened to civilization? Just kidding. Despite the occasional bouts of communal public hand-wringing over the hate-filled vindictiveness of the Twitter masses, the social medium has very clear upsides.

Take, for example, the trending hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter, which has famous and unknown scribblers all over sharing rude or thoughtless comments writers hear too often. Yes, this may encourage subtweeting or privately embarrass those of us who realize that we DID just tell J.K. Rowling we had a great idea for her next novel while she forced a smile through a charity photo op.

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On the whole, however, this is a funny, effective way of publicizing etiquette. Instead of coldly replying, “Excuse me, but my writing is a full-time job” and stalking away from the gauche person we just met at our sister-in-law’s yearly New Year’s Eve party, we can use the power of Twitter to tell far more people it’s rude to insinuate our work is unserious, without casting a chill over the seafood buffet.

As this hashtag has gone viral, famous authors have shared hilarious bits of advice that provide a glimpse of the weird world inhabited by the widely read. For example, S.E. Hinton, the author of beloved classic The Outsiders, tweeted: 

 Oops.

Perhaps the predominant theme drawn out by the hashtag is that writers just can’t get no respect. The general population suspects writers are lazy, spend very little time working, and possess no special skill set. Most people think they could easily be writers themselves, if they had the time or inclination.

And many writers, who are frequently paid little or nothing for work that can be frustrating, mind-numbing and thankless -- much like other jobs -- have just about had it. After all, without them, we wouldn’t have “Game of Thrones” or “You’ve Got Mail” or Jezebel or The Atlantic or The Toast or even stuff like “The Daily Show” and “Broad City.” Life without writers would be pretty dull.

Hashtag activism has been criticized as frivolous, but in some areas, better awareness is the best remedy. Etiquette is the perfect cause to exploit the power of the hashtag, one consciousness-raising trending topic at a time. Maybe, before too long, we’ll all know exactly what to say to each other at all times. Thanks, Twitter.

 

 

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