What do you think of this picture?

Aside from the fact that this is Johnny Depp, I’d say it’s a pretty scary image.

It’s an especially frightening reminder to the writer who suffers from one of the following quirks: (1) laughing manically or (2) rocking back and forth with glee as s/he gets to the really “good part” in whatever story they’re writing.

I mean, even the mildly eccentric laughing/rocking writer, doesn’t want to end up looking like an unwashed nutter*.

So, this is where having friends who care can really save the day.

What I love about best friends is that they’re not afraid to tap you on the shoulder and quietly ask,

“Hey, Paula do you want to, like, comb your hair before we go to the movies? Other people might feel more comfortable around you if, um, if you combed it …at least a little.”

That’s nice, isn’t it?

Seriously though, sometimes, as writers, we allow ourselves to wander aimlessly in the dream world we’re writing about and we almost lose perspective on how reality works. This causes problems not only in our social life, but in our work.

When we write about characters who are very different from ourselves, we, of course, need to clearly understand what motivates them to speak and act a certain way.

The cool thing about having close friends is that we get to observe (and, when appropriate, even outright ask our friends) why they think and act the way they do.  Keeping other people close gives us insight into what makes them tick and into why, despite their flaws, we love them. This enables us to write about realistically flawed characters who are also likable.

I’m finding that a good way to keep friends close has very little to do with Facebook and more to do with picking up the phone and calling them. Even though it’s hard for a lot of writers (who somehow balance a full time job plus their writing work), maintaining a social life is important.

Setting aside at least one day each week to hang out with friends, and spending a couple of minutes, each day, calling the people who matter to us most, is just as essential as writing a little bit every day.

How do you balance work, writing, and managing a social life?

*Did you see how I used a British word right there even though I’m not British? Ack! Help! Before you know it, I’ll have morphed into  Europia’s* biggest star, Madonna.

*Europia is a nonexistent country, uninhabited by celebrities who think they are British, when in fact, they are not British. At all. 

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