Writers don't have ordinary lives. Whether writing web content or the Great American Novel, writers have their own explicit point of view. As a writer and a therapist, I have enough letters after my name and in my books to give me an insider's view. So here are ten basic rules for living The Write Life.
1. Remember that we're lucky. Most people who hear voices and see imaginary faces in their heads are given diagnoses. We receive contracts.
2. Everyone, except for writers, knows that our average incomes are similar to Stephen King and James Patterson. Smile. If they ask, tell people that you earn six figures. No one has to know the exact figures. It can be $000,000 and there won't be any questions.
3. People think all writers are very smart. Don't disappoint them. Never admit that you're terrible at Scrabble or have trouble figuring out the tip after dinner. Instead, apologize with something like "my head is so filled with my serial-killer character, I'm not thinking straight."
4. Never admit to reading anything but the finest literature. If you want to read People Magazine, hide it in The New York Times. Tell everyone that James Patterson writes at a third-grade reading level. And never confess that you can't follow Jonathan Franzen.
5. Frown when there's talk of television sitcoms. Only admit to watching Discovery, History Channel and National Geographic. When the discussion shifts to current events, sigh and confess you have no patience for broadcast news. You get your information from people like Anderson Cooper, Sanjay Gupta, and Rachel Maddow. If you slip and acknowledge a news byte about a seven-year old axe murderer, then claim it was for research purposes only.
6. Eat sushi not hot dogs. It's much more esoteric.
7. Drink wine, not beer. Beer is for those people who go to baseball games and watch football on TV. If you love sports, acknowledge that they're a metaphor for war, like in the original movie, Mash. Don't ever let anyone see you screaming for - or at - your team (even when they deserve it).
8. Choose your activities carefully. Playing basketball is for sweaty Presidents. Softball is for competitive entrepreneurs. Lifting weights is for construction workers. Writers may run (never jog), brisk walk (never stroll), work out (preferably with a personal trainer), and swim (never in a pool - only in natural settings like lakes, ponds and oceans). Playing golf is borderline (you don't want to be an old writer), but riding English style, polo and sailing are all appropriately exotic.
9. Know your pop psychology. Words make the writer. No one is manic depressive - now they're all bipolar. Being neurotic dates you - anxiety disorders work much better. Crazy pills are passé - today we pop anti-depressants, or even better, SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). Your multiple personality character suffers from Dissociative Disorder, and all politicians are confirmed narcissists. If you want to look really cool, relate Ovid's Myth of Narcissus and Echo, casually adding that it was in the Roman's Book 3 of Metamorphoses.
10. Become a foodie. Every reader loves stories about Haagen Daz (never Breyer's). A sizzling ribeye beats a slab of chuck on the grill. Flowers in your salad is very alluring while nibbling on celery is for diet freaks. Watching the Food Channel is excellent, but stay away from Martha Stewart.
Most importantly, enjoy The Write Life! You're one of a kind.
Originally appeared on Associated Content