When a police officer arrests a suspect it’s called a collar. If he plants evidence it’s called a ham sandwich. When a firefighter responds to a fire, it’s known as putting the wet stuff on the hot stuff, or humping the hose. Many professions use lingo to enliven the job, and create a sense of community—to make the members feel special. But writers? What have we got?
Writing terms are surprisingly uncreative. A writer plans and outlines. She writes and revises. He edits and researches. We have slush pile, but that’s about it. Maybe the most risqué act for a writer is submission, but alas, it only refers to sending work out to journals. Perhaps because we work in solitude, writers have few slang terms to spice up the profession.
Even the lowly coffee shop employee has a language that makes a writer’s sound dull: a non-fat decaf cappuccino is referred to as a “why bother.” A Midnight Rider is an Americano with an extra shot.
Recently, though, blogger friend Gwen Stephens wrote about Word Vomiting, the practice of putting every word in your head onto a word document, then coming back later to try to make it coherent.
In communicating with Gwen, she also informed me about pantsing, which means writing without a fixed outline. It comes from “seat-of-your-pants” writing. It’s what I did for 200 pages of a novel that is now on hold because I had no outline and it never made sense. Pantsing, of course, is also the act of sneaking up on someone and pulling their pants down, exposing their undies—so it’s still apropos to my novel, which was exposed as a mess.
I like this trend. If we really want to call ourselves “creative” writers, we need more of these. And, of course, you only needed to ask—here’s a few suggestions, some with examples of usage:
- Percolating: Writing productively in a coffee shop.
- Frothing: Trying to write in a coffee shop while sitting next to some jerk bellowing into his cell phone. I was percolating until this idiot came in, and now I’m so frustrated I’m frothing.
- Writer’s Blockhead: A person who continually uses writer’s block as an excuse for not writing.
- Sloshing: Writing while drinking heavily. Can be a remedy for writer’s block, although sometimes leads to Word Vomiting.
- Kiting: Writing while high on drugs. I must be kiting, man. Everything I write sounds great! By the way, when a writer is whacked out on acid, he doesn’t have flashbacks, he has backstory.
- Nostradamus Syndrome: Writing while knowing in advance the piece will be a disaster and receive nothing but rejection. I finished the book, but my Nostradamus Syndrome made me put it in the closet without even querying.
- Enemy for Life: A writer you try to collaborate with.
- Get Carded: Trying to write but giving in to the temptation to play computer solitaire instead. In the middle of writing chapter 3 I got carded and didn’t get back to the story for an hour.
- The Colon: Where a lot of my writing seems to originate (as opposed to the brain). I thought I had a good idea for a story, but it was just another product of the colon.
- Dressing the Pig: Editing your writing to make it acceptable to the mass market. If you put in a few vampires you could dress that pig and get an agent.
- Book Naked: Not doing the above. I wrote my novel book naked, but no one wants it.
- Writing from the Hermitage: Refusing to accept edits and criticism from other writers, agents, publishers, etc.
Alright, alright, I’ll stop. But clearly there is a need for more writer’s lingo. Let’s see what you’ve got!