Writers often get asked questions when people find out we write. Some questions are okay, some are understandable and some are downright annoying. These are all questions I’ve been asked at one time or another. o.O
01 – You’re a writer? (usually with surprise) What have you written?
It’s an honest question but for many writers, there is not an easy answer. If you’re published you can mention your book.
If you aren’t then things get more complicated. You can mention the genres or state that you’ve written a manuscript or two. Or that you are working on a manuscript.
But many writers don’t like discussing their works in progress, especially with people they aren’t close to and unfortunately, this question always comes up if someone who isn’t a close friend/family member finds out you write.
02 – Are you published?
Most people who hear “I’m a writer” assume that means you’re published. If you don’t state a book, complete with Amazon links, then they usually look confused and clarify themselves with this question.
There is a belief among non-writers that if you call yourself a “writer” that is because you’re published.
03 – When will you be finished?
Non-writers often don’t realise that we don’t exactly have an end date. If we work to deadlines we have a date we are hoping to get finished by and will work our butts off to hit it.
But in this kind of craft, it’s not always the case especially if you write in your spare time and have a job/home/family to maintain as well.
That’s when things get more fluid. Also, writing takes a lot of time and isn’t just a) get idea b) sit and write. There are so many stages of writing.
04 – OMG are you still writing that novel?
Again… writing takes time. There are some who can churn out a novel in a month. Though these are an exception and usually they are people who then need to spend a larger amount of time editing.
Most writers take a lot longer to write, from getting that original idea to developing it into a plot. To planning, to writing, then editing, then rewriting and more editing.
Throw in some crying, writer’s block, soul-destroying insomnia then more editing, polishing then getting critique partners and beta readers… It’s not just sitting and writing.
05 – Can I read your stuff?
This is a tricky one. If the person asking could very well make a good critique partner or beta reader that’s a possibility. If however you are already published, then they are technically asked for a free copy.
Maybe if they are a friend or family member it’s not so bad, though I’ve found most writers tell me their friends/family who are supportive, will actually buy the book not just request it for free!
I’ve had people ask to read stuff I’ve written before they even know anything about the manuscript. The last thing you want is someone who isn’t your target audience reading your stuff… especially if they are NOT a friend or family.
So unless they are reading it because they are some incredible grammar or spelling expert and just want to help you with that… it’s a pass.
06 – Do you think you’ll ever be published?
This is often a subtly negative question. There are better ways of asking but this will always come across as a form of doubt about you and your ability. Not every writer wants to pursue their writing as a career.
Some writer as a hobbyist and are happy with that. But if you want to be published, there is nothing saying you can’t (and I’m not talking about self-publishing here…yes anyone can self-publish) but what I mean is that even if your writing sucks… you can practice and get better.
07 – You know it’s not a real job / are you ever going to get a real job?
Despite the fact there are millions of books being published and so many authors who make a living as writers, we are still assumed to be chasing some “non-job.”
But don’t despair, it’s not just writers who get this treatment – anything creative is seen as suspect to these people. That includes musicians, artists, actors, dancers etc.
Apparently, if you want to do something creative, it’s a “non job”…even if you get paid handsomely for it.
I find this question comes from family members, usually older ones that seem to believe anything creative is just wrong and that we should all be doctors, lawyers, plumbers, mechanics, nurses, vets, teachers etc.
Sorry family members… that shit is not something I’m interested in. I’ll continue to chase the non-job 🙂
08 – I always thought I could write a book
(Not actually a question, but I’m slipping it in here) I’m sure some people say this and mean it, I’ve never met them. Others just seem to say it as part of the conversation with a writer.
In my humble opinion (and I could be wrong), but if you believed you could write and actually wanted to write, you would write.
I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t. Even if you thought you weren’t any good, all writers write. We can’t help it, we NEED to write. And if you don’t think you can, why are you saying this?
Some writers might not feel they could ever write anything worthy of publishing but that wouldn’t stop them writing. They would write for themselves and secret the works away in a drawer to be seen only by their eyes.
If you looked at writing and thought ‘that’s too hard’ or ‘it takes so long’ then trust me, you’re not a writer.
09 – Oh, you write [insert genre], don’t you think there is enough already?
Because apparently all the [insert genre] has already been written and there is nothing you could ever create that would be even remotely different. Ever! *eye roll*
10 – Don’t you worry you are writing stuff that’s already been written?
We all have that little fear every now and then. It just pops up but for most writers, we just whack it, like mental whack-a-mole and carry on.
There will always be new ways to tell stories and new characters to develop. So don’t let those irrational fears and doubts stop you writing the story you love.
11 – I have an idea for you if you want to write it?
Ahh yes, because us writers can’t come up with our own ideas can we. We need someone like you to give us your ideas!
No – no we don’t! Most writers have shit loads of ideas to the point we have to be ruthless with ourselves and put some of them aside so we can actually finish our current manuscript. We don’t need your ideas. We want to write our own.
You have an idea that’s so great, take it to a ghostwriter who will charge you to write it. Because that’s a business.
NOTE: You may have noticed I left out the ultimate question “Where do you get your ideas from?” I hate that question so have refused to acknowledge it here.
Are there any questions you hate being asked?
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As you can see this was a little ranty. It’s been a tough week if I’m honest, had some very bad news at work and I’m still reeling from it.
Maybe next week’s article will be a bit friendlier 🙂
Have you ever been asked any of these questions? Let me know in the comments!