Weird Questions People Ask Writers
Readers love asking writers about their writing. I totally get this. I’m a reader. Many readers have intelligent, thoughtful questions. BUT some questions are just plain bizarre.
To help write this blog post I conducted exhaustive research (okay, so I asked on social media). All of the questions set out here are actual questions, asked to actual writers.
Don’t let this list stop you talking to writers, mind. Just, thanks to this post, there are some things you no longer need to ask.
16 Odd Questions (and 1 Great One)
Writers of juvenile fiction report the following left-field questions:
- What kind of car do you drive? Don’t ask me why this question was raised. I think the writer who encountered it had no idea why, either.
- How do you write the words so neatly? This from Mister 8, amazed at how tidy the writing is in a printed book.
- How many words in a book? (another Mister 8) Answer: In a kids chapter book – about 30,000. [Audience gasps]. But an adult’s book can have more than 100,000 words. [Cue wordless shock and awe.]
Money and Ideas
All writers report a perception that writing is easy money:
- Are you rich?/ How many books have you sold? /How much money do you make? A: Not enough.
- Will you be the next JK Rowling? A: NO.
There’s also a perception that, while ideas are hard to come by, putting that idea to paper is really, really easy.
- I’ve got an idea for a book. How about I give you my idea, and you write the book, and we split the proceeds 50/50? A: No. Write your own damn book.
- Where do your ideas come from? Best answer: the weird people around me.
Romance writers definitely field the dodgiest questions.
- Do you write in the nude? Rather worringly, lots of authors reported being asked this.
- Do you write soft-porn? Um, no.
- Do you ‘practice’ on your husband? I’m not telling.
- Can I help you do your ‘research’? Sure. My next book is a murder-mystery. You offering to be the victim?
Think a Little Harder
Some questions display a total lack of originality (or even basic research):
- Why did you start writing? Um, I don’t know. Because I had a story to tell.
- What made you write The Light Between Oceans? I get this question about twice a year. The Light Between Oceans is a lovely book, and I’m sure the movie will be amazing, but its written by ML Stedman. As far as I know, she is no relation.
- What advice do you give a budding writer? How about – write stuff down?
- What is your favourite book? I can’t say. It’s like choosing between my children.
Most Annoying Question
This is the question I find the most irritating:
- How do you find the time to write? I prioritize. How do you make time to make a quilt, watch TV, train for a marathon or study?
Finally, there is one question I’d be more than happy to answer, but as yet no-one’s asked it of me:
- What’s the best thing about writing? Writing is the MOST FUN IN THE WORLD. You get to make up an entire universe of people, and they do whatever you tell them to do. You’re the total boss! When you’re writing fiction you can literally do ANYTHING you like!
You want to know how great it feels? I’ll put it this way: Writing is even better than reading.
A massive THANK YOU to the other writers who contributed to this list.
I’m sure your readers appreciate your patience. I’m certain they appreciate your sense of humor.