Monday, December 28, 2015

4 Writer Superpowers that Will Get You into Trouble in Real Life

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas or happy holidays and has safe, fun plans for New Year’s Eve! Sayonara, 2015! It's been swell.

I'd even say this year has been super. And on the topic of super...

You know writers have superpowers, right? But did you know that if we use our powers wrong, we can get into trouble off-page?

The other day, while I was cooking, I started over-analyzing and guessing at a person's motives. I stopped myself pretty quickly because I recently went through a class on personal boundaries, and I’ve been trying to live in this freedom of not making what goes on in other people’s heads or hearts my business. I’m in charge of my own thoughts and heart and no one else’s. Whatever their motives, thoughts, and feelings are is up to them and only their business. Whew, what a load off.

Except…what goes on in other people’s heads and hearts and what fuels motive is kind of my business. As a writer. And this comes so naturally to me (and probably you) because that’s:

Writer Superpower #1—The Power of Analyzing. (Overanalyzing, psychoanalyzing, etc.) Or, if you want to sound a little more mature and level-headed, The Power of Observation. Writers like to watch people. And I don’t just mean the kind of people-watching where you sit in the mall café and watch people walk, talk, and shop. I mean, that’s fun too. But not as fun as watching the people you interact with every day, guessing at their motives and thoughts and feelings. That’s great practice for creating interesting characters, but in real life? It can get you into trouble. Because, the truth is, you might be wrong about someone’s motives, thoughts, and heart, and assuming causes all sorts of problems. But then again, hey, learning from that sort of experience is good for writing too, isn’t it?

Thinking about the pros and cons of this superpower got me thinking about a few other (potentially dangerous) powers we wield.  

Writer Superpower #2—The Power to Tell Lies. Or spin tales. Or get creative. Obviously this is a skill writers need in order to tell fictional stories because the whole thing is made up. But it also helps to have characters who lie to each other, or, even more interesting, lie to themselves. If you have this superpower, you can tell story after interesting story. Just maybe don’t bring this skill into real life? Because no one likes a liar liar pants on fire. And you’ll get into trouble. Again, good learning op for writing, but not so pleasant for you or other people in reality.

Writer superpower #3—The Power of the Grammar Whiz-ness. Just like with the other two superpowers, every writer will possess this superpower in different levels. The writers who will get in trouble are the ones who are so smarty-pants about grammar, they're known as Grammar Nazis. Please, for the love of all that is sweet and beautiful, don’t go around correcting people’s grammar and misspellings to people’s faces or on social media. Not unless they ask. Because if you do, you come off as an annoying know-it-all, and people will want to kick you in your shins.

Writer Superpower #4—The Power to Ship Like Cupid Himself. If you’re not familiar with the term “shipping,” it basically means to put two people together, romantically. We do this with our favorite fictional characters and—yup—people in real life. Our love for shipping helps us know how to torture our own writers so they’ll ship our characters. But in reality, shipping people can cause problems. Especially if you see yourself as a matchmaker. I played matchmaker once with my sister. I rubbed my hands together in glee when the match was made. And then I stepped back and said, “uh-oh” once I saw what I’d created. Lesson learned—save the shipping for fictional people or, at least keep real-life shipping to yourself.  

Moral of the story: Your writer powers make you an awesome writer! Just learn to use those powers for good and not evil.

What other writer superpowers could get you into trouble in real life? Comment below!


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