My Best Guess:
A combination of loneliness and a desire to enter into conversations with strangers brings this on. As someone who was friendless and new in town, I'd watch anything that seemed like it might be an "event" show -- something that people would be talking about the next day. I'd arm myself with information so when I heard someone mention the show, I could say, "I'm sorry, I couldn't help but overhear you, and I disagree: I thought it was hilarious when Bret Michaels bashed his head in the opening number of the Tony Awards. Do you want to be friends with me?"
Eventually I learned that this was a bad strategy, because most people don't watch awards shows (especially not the Country Music Awards), because most people have friends. So whenever I tried bringing up the previous night's show in an attempt to create a friend-building water-cooler moment, my knowledge of obscure and pointless awards shows made me look even weirder.
"You didn't watch the SAG awards?"
The More You Talk About the Book You're Writing, The Less You've Written
If someone tells you that they're writing a book (even and especially if you didn't ask), ask them a lot of questions. They'll have a lot of answers for you. Answers about the plot, a few characters, maybe even some sample dialogue. Ask them a few more questions, and get really specific when you do. When you get through with all of the "idea" questions, ask them how many pages it is so far, or how they've found time to write it. I guarantee you that in your lengthy conversation about this random person's book, eventually you'll hear something that sounds sort of like, "Well, I don't actually have, like, chapters or anything yet. I mostly just have notes. I mean, the book is written, it's just in my head. But if you're asking to see a paragraph of it, then no, very much no."
"I've got an outline, though. What's that? Oh, yes, it's also just in my head."
I'm sure you know people like that. They've got their screenplay or novel or pilot that they're "working on," but really they just want to tell someone about it, and they think that's the same thing as writing. Meanwhile, I guarantee you that you've got a friend or two who actually are writing a book or graphic novel, and they just haven't mentioned it.
Robert Brockway's the perfect example. He's a coworker of mine. We have lunch together sometimes. He comes to my fancy parties. He sits literally six feet away from me. He started self-publishing an e-book a few days ago and last week was the first time I'd ever heard about it. He wrote an entire novel, built a website for it and stayed quiet about the whole thing. I see him almost every day! How did he do that?! Meanwhile, random strangers have spoken 50,000 words to me about a book for which none have been written.
My Best Guess:
Writing books is really hard. Talking about them is so, so easy (fun, too!).
Also, that's a move that dumb, lazy people use to trick themselves. I know because I've been a dumb, lazy person in the past (I've whittled it down to just dumb now). Whenever I wanted to write a book or play or sketch, I would convince myself that talking about it would motivate me to do it. If I just tell my friend all about the awesome movie I'm going to write, I'll finally have an excuse to write it, because he'll be waiting for it. Yes! But that's just a stall, I was just deluding myself.
Also, and I can't stress this enough, not writing is so much easier than writing.
Daniel O'Brien is Cracked.com's Senior Writer (ladies), and he had a fifth entry planned but ditched it because, yo, not-writing is way easy (other lazy people).
For more from Dan, check out 5 Terrible Situations for the Socially Awkward Man and Hey, Let's Fix The Internet.