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Don’t Write About Your Significant Other

Don’t write about your girlfriend/ boyfriend/ wife/ wifesy/ husband/ hubby/ or pets.  I read that advice on Seth Godin’s blog.  Seth, is the internet god often pictured, on his site, with a half head and eyes pointed skyward.*  He’s likeable.  I like him and not because there’s a cult around him that says you MUST like him like.  As we all know, I have no problem saying what I feel.**  So, I like him, for no other reason then I like him and that he seems knowledgeable.  And yes, of course, I know that he’s wildly popular.


Seth’s blog, link below.


Recently, I read a post on Seth’s blog about “how to get more traffic to your site.”  In the list of tips, he says, “Don’t write about your cat, your boyfriend, or your kids.”


Never mind that if you skip a number down he says, “Do write about your kids.”  Is he being clever?  Who knows?  Is he using reverse psychology?  Who knows.


Well then, what, pray tell, is my point?


My point is…


Who in the feck should you listen to?


I think this is the hardest thing for a writer – ever.  So many voices, a lot of them discouraging.  A lot of voices that don’t write, but yet still with the cojones to tell you what to do.  Who should you listen to?  Your wife?  Your life coach?  Your therapist?  That famous author?  That famous blogger?  I think the answer is very nuanced.  You should HEAR them all, but you should only LISTEN to YOU.


Of course, this is way easier said then done.  For example, take Seth’s notion of, “don’t write about your boyfriend (significant other).”  If I took that to heart, I’d never write about Wifesy.  But, the thing is, I LOVE writing about Wifesy.  It’s such a big part of my life and I find it so fun to do so.  And I also LOVE reading other peoples’ posts about their significant others.  Even better if they have a special name for them like, “Sassafras” or “Bill Payer.”  I love reading hillarious posts that scream, “Oh, my gawd, you would NOT believe what Bill Payer – Sergeant Sassafras did today.  Gawd, I love him so.”  These kinds of posts are so relatable for me.  And so fun to read.  They are real life, puffed up and thrown in a descriptive, word blender, and then served without that horrible reality show afro-sheen.


It’s very difficult as a writer to know who to turn up and who to tune out.  Just last night I was watching a new show, “Girls” on HBO.  Now, this show is brilliantly well written.  You would think it was sh*t due to all the controversy surrounding their lack of diversity in casting, but it’s not.  It’s both well written and delicious.  On an episode that I watched last night, the writer put together probably the best and most accurate depiction of a fight between two female friends in their 20s that I have ever seen.  It was so accurate and so stunning that I thought to myself, “Man, that is so realistic and yet, I’ve never seen it on TV before.”  How cool is that?  To write something that is so true to life, but yet, it’s never been shown before?  Just when you think it’s all been done and then – blam – in a moment, you see that it has not.


“Girls” – probably one of the most well written shows on television right now.


But, that’s not my point in bringing up “Girls.”  There’s a moment in the episode where the lead, who is a writer, is figuring out what piece to read at a reading.  She wants to read a piece about a hoarder that’s funny and that she’s really worked on.  But, her friend – the one she gets into a colossal fight with later – tells her, “it’s a bit whiny.”  Then she tells her boss – a guy who thinks he knows everything – that she’s going to read the hoarder piece and he tells her that she should write about bigger things about death and political unrest, etc.


So, what does she do?  She writes a piece in 45 mins on the subway and reads that at the reading.  Not surprisingly, it falls flat.  So, what did she miss here?  She missed that her friend was mad at her in the first place.  She missed that her boss is just a disgruntled feck and argues the other side of everything.  She missed — LISTENING TO HERSELF.  Because she’s the one who knew she should’ve read the hoarder piece.  YOU always know, if you’re honest with yourself.  You just have to get quiet and listen.  Now, that’s the hardest part.


I think we all have those people in our lives who either directly or indirectly tell us not to write.  I have a vivid memory of a girl I used to wait tables with telling me she didn’t like a piece.  Now, it wasn’t that she didn’t like the piece.  Lord knows, I’ve written a lot of shite too.  It’s that there was something else there.  A dissatisfaction with herself maybe?  I don’t know.  That was a person I should’ve shrugged off and instead I took it to heart.  My blogging buddy, Le Clown, has an “author” who told him the same thing.  Clearly, said author should be shrugged off.  The point is, we all have them – the doubters.


The trick is to make something anyway.  If you don’t make it, it never gets better.  If you don’t make something, they win.  And truly, be careful who you listen to because some people live to be soul sucking vampires.  It’s how they feel good about themselves.  Do whatever you have to do to get really in touch with the real you – maybe meditate, journal, see a therapist, perform, find a soul sister friend / brother who would never harm you, exercise, paint, walk the dog, etc.  Do whatever you have to in order to get centered with you.  Get quiet.  That’s how you know who to listen to and who to shrug off.


It ain’t easy, but it is worth it in the end.



Sweet Mother is updated daily.  If you’d like to follow this blog, you can do so by clicking the “follow” button above.



Interesting links and photo creds:

Yep, I say what I feel.**

Seth’s Blog*

Girls photo

feature photo


41 thoughts on “Don’t Write About Your Significant Other

  1. I soooo agree with you on this, SM. I’ve gotten some tough comments from attending writing classes. One woman obviously didn’t like me or my writing or maybe I reminded her of a mean girl that was mean to her in second grade, who knows? She would attack my character saying things like, “she’s an idiot. She needs to go to church….” crap like that — nothing about my writing, mind you, just my character. I reminded her that it WAS a fictional character and that if/when my book got published, it wouldn’t be in the section of Religious Studies.

    I think you’re right on about people trying to deter you and that most likely is they’re own issues. I think a writer KNOWS instinctively when something is right. Obviously, you must be doing that, you’ve got the followers/readers to prove it. We all have our own unique style and voice and I think it gets better and stronger the more we speak our truth and BE WHO WE ARE. Great post as always, SM. (P.S. I love hearing about your Wifesey, but that’s just me). :).

    1. you know, my judgement is out on writing classes. i’m not even sure if they’re helpful at all anymore. though i have taken a few myself. writers just need to write and over time and while paying attention, the writing will get better. that woman sounds like an a-hole. unfortunately, there are a ton of them in writing classes. ay yay yay. glad you got out alive. xo, sm

  2. Awesome advice. Not talking about the people who inspire you makes it seem robotic, and impenetrable. If that’s the key to success, and pictures of yourself all over the web that resemble that creepy ass Six-Flags old man, count me out.

    1. loooooooooool, awesome commentary, as always, mike. it’s good to see you here and i miss your blog. will be stopping by shortly to see what you’ve been up to. xo, sm

  3. “Get quiet.”

    Love it. I need quiet in my surroundings to get quiet inside my head.

    I was having an e-chat the other night where some writers mentioned they have little rituals before writing. I think it must help them with that inner quiet.

    1. mmmm, the quiet is important. as there is so much noise out there. i can truly feel the difference in my writing when i do get quiet. truly. and that’s worth something, for sure. xo, sm

  4. Your last paragraph says it perfectly, Sweet Mother. I say bollocks to people who say you should or shouldn’t write a certain way or about certain stuff. BOLLOCKS. (That really is fun to say.) “They” always have rules and “they” are almost always wrong. I write about Mr. Weebles all the time, probably in more detail than he’d like—you saw this one, yes? http://fearnoweebles.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/theres-something-about-mr-weebles/ There’s always going to be some idiot who doesn’t like something or other. Why waste energy worrying about them. You rock.

    1. bollocks, indeed. and you were one of the people that came to mind when i wrote that, btw. i love reading about mr weebles. so i will read that, for sure. i don’t pay much attention to what you should and shouldn’t do blogging-wise. i hear it, like i said, but i ‘listen’ to what works for me. but, when i read the seth thing i laughed out loud because i was like, ‘all i talk about is wifesy!!!’ lol. much love, sm

  5. Well I’m fecked because all I do is write about my kids. Luckily I’m not out for gaining popularity and a huge readership. I just write to keep a sentimental recording of my boys lives and what tricks work and what don’t. It is more for my own enjoyment than anything else.

    1. you know it’s interesting. he says ‘don’t write about your kids’ and then he says, ‘do write about your kids’ and obviously with the popularity and the power of the mommy blogger out there – there is good advice in yes, definitely, writing about your kids. but, i think what your doing with the focus on the record and not any huge readership is a very good way to keep it authentic… in my humble opinion, that is… xo, sm

  6. I understand being careful about how much we reveal about spouses and family—there are privacy issues and such to think about. But to not mention them at all? I think that’s extreme. I enjoy hearing bits about Wifesy and other bloggers’ families. Sometimes I’m leery about paying too much attention to the people who make lots of money telling the rest of us what we should and shouldn’t do….

    1. “sometimes i’m leery about paying too much attention to the people who make lots of money telling the rest of us what we should and shouldn’t do…” pheeeewwww, that was a good one, jm. applies to a lot of areas, me thinks, too. i agree that you should keep some boundaries on what you talk about in regards to your significant others. but, the bloggers i like, most of them do that naturally and it’s probably why i like them so much. great comment. thank you, friend. sm

  7. Sweet Mother,
    I’m a long time reader of Seth Godin. I like him, I’ve quoted him, even if he looks funny, and not in the good way, as in Le Clown funny for example. Seth is often on the money, but other times, I think he misses the mark.

    It’s imperative you write about what you feel is right, may it be your partner, cat, Joan Holloway, the upstairs neighbour, vaginas, or penises. In my experience, your “work” will be more interesting. What are you looking for as a writer, blogger, entertainer? That’s another question… I will continue to write about my wife, my kids, myself, you – Sweet Mother, and whatever whim gets me at any given time. I’ll hope you’ll read. If you don’t, I’ll cry a bit… I’m getting what I want from blogging… So a big kiss on your forehead, Seth.
    Le Clown

    1. mmmmm, i feel the same. i’m getting exactly what i want / need from blogging. plus, i love ‘our’ little community. can i say that? like we’re all off in the woods on a virtual retreat somewhere? you nail it though, you have to write about what you WANT to write about. period. otherwise, it gets real dull, real fast – for the writer. and that’s the most important person to please, no isn’t it? xoxooxoxox, clowny, xoxoxoxo. sm

      1. Cheers for Le Clown, and some serious hugs for you Sweet Mother. There must be something in the air. I have just been having this very conversation with some of my writing friends.

        In the end I believe you HAVE to follow your own voice. Sure, lots of writing will make it better – it’s a craft after all, and our job is to go from novice to master. But what works for Seth won’t work for you, or me, necessarily. Because he’s Seth. And you’re you. And I’m me. And we all have different lives and different voices, and different audiences.

        Plus I’d be sad if you stopped writing about Wifesy. Or if Le Clown suddenly was bereft of family.

        Here’s to honouring our authentic voice!
        Mwah :*
        Love your work, Sweet Mother!!!

  8. I think we all have those people in our lives who either directly or indirectly tell us not to write.

    Yes. This is entirely and completely true. Thanks for this reminder…and for the reminder not to listen to them.

    1. ignore. ignore. ignore. i think edie falco once said that john tuturro used to get up in the morning and say, ‘feck ’em, feck ’em, feck ’em’ – every morning. he was talking about the industry. amazing how many different ‘crafts’ that applies to… xo, sm

  9. You make hormonal fishy cry. Of course I’m PMSing so that’s not real hard, but this is really wonderful. I’m totally fecked because if I can’t write about my kids, cats, or hubby I just hit the asterisk button until I fill a page. :-)

  10. SM! I love you for this post. I thought this was an intro to a guest post by Seth Godin (who I don’t know), and I was like, “Aw crud. We can’t write about our significant others now?” (I call mine Peppermeister; the hub.)

    I am SO with you – I love reading about the people in writers’ lives! Of course, not the boring “I just ate a pb&j with my cat” Tweets, but, all of the memoir deliciousness. It’s our bread and butter! And why do I keep talking about sandwiches!

    Also loving “Girls.” Once I read more about Lena Dunham (the young writer/creator/sometimes director), I was totally jealous. I mean, sold. ;) The actors’ level of commitment and shamelessness (the good kind) is remarkable.

    1. her story is interesting, isn’t it? and it makes me want to see that film she made, what is it, ‘tiny funiture’ or something like that? the show is so good. really, really good. i hope it gets the credit it deserves. i’m going to have to read more about peppermeister, indeed. ;) i look forward to it. xo, sm

  11. People who are critical of others (in an unhelpful manner–constructive feedback is, of course, useful) often have their own demons they’re fighting, but instead of tackling these monsters, they bring others down instead. At least that’s what I like to tell myself, making it easier to avoid the naysayers. :)

  12. I mainly write about my 2-year-old’s significant other. Her name is Dora the Explorer and she is the devil incarnate.

    I dug this as much as Dora digs her backpack. And if you ever watched Dora (never, never do), you would realize she’s crazy into her backpack. People like to dump all over people and crush dreams and just be general pieces of shite. Those people should be smothered by Dora’s backpack.

  13. Gold star.
    Extra chocolate chips in the choccy-chip cookies. Frosting on the brownies. Chocolate cake with chocolate filling….and dark chocolate mousse for dessert.

    Well done, SweetMom.

  14. I’m with you. I think Seth is brilliant…but, if I didn’t write about He-Who there would be no blog. I usually call him “He Who Shall Remain Nameless For HIs Own Protection” but a good friend recently started referring to him as “He-Who” because as she says, “We are on a first name basis”. I figure I’m on a first name basis with him too (at least for the moment) so “He-Who” it is. (It shorter and easier too) ;-) He is my muse and provides me with my best material.

  15. Isn’t Seth saying write about whatever you think is interesting? I actually read the whole list and that is a long list but I persevered!!! SM, I don’t think you have anything to worry about!! xo

  16. -huge hugs- You will never know just how much I needed to hear something exactly like this… right at this moment. I still feel like shite but the feeling of ‘oh my god I’ve just wasted the last ten years of my life’ is fading fast. Thanks Mum.

  17. I am with you on this one, write what is in your head, heart and moves your spirit. Never mind the advice from anyone else, they are you and frankly they aren’t your audience either.

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