Wednesday, January 8, 2014

10 Questions to Avoid Asking a Writer #IWSG


I'm back from my break at last, feeling refreshed and eager to get on with my exciting (and busy) plans for the year. Consequently, I thought I'd start the New Year with a lighthearted post for the Insecure Writer'sSupport Group. To learn more about the group, check out our resource-filled website,  or to join us, click HERE.

Many of the questions below are sure to trigger a mountain of insecurities in writers, or worse, trigger the beast within us. My advice is to avoid these questions at all cost.

  1. Why haven't you finished writing that novel yet?
  2. Can I be in your book?
  3. Why aren't you published yet?
  4. Have you thought of a different career path?
  5. Why don't you publish that first story you ever wrote?
  6. How good is it doing nothing all day?
  7. Can I tell you my great story idea?
  8. How much money do you make?
  9. Do people even read these days?
  10. When are you going to get a real job?
And the bonus question:
  1. Can I interrupt you for a second?

If you've been asked any of these questions, what's been your reaction? What are some other questions you'd like avoided?


The IWSG Facebook group has started 'News & Promo Saturday' when all members are encouraged to post one promotion about their book or share some great news with the group. 

Photo: I got a new camera with an awesome macro for Christmas. You should've seen me in the hardware store taking photos of all the bits n pieces. Amok, amok, amok!

75 comments:

  1. I like the nuts and bolts shot!
    It's never a second. Usually not even a minute.
    Welcome back to blogging, Lynda. Sometimes a break does our spirit good.

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  2. LOL..I love the bonus question! No, do not interrupt me! You have no idea how long it took me to get in this groove...
    Awesome post :-)

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  3. Welcome back from your break. I just returned from my yesterday.

    I haven't had any of these. Fortunately.

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  4. It's good to have you back. I've only been asked question number two. I'm sure the rest are yet to come. Happy New Year.

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  5. I always hated, "Have I read anything you've written?" I mean, seriously, even if I had been published at the time, how would I know what they've read?

    (For some reason I couldn't finishing typing the last comment so I had to submit as it. Weird.)

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    1. Dahlia, The groove is so precious. The only time an interruption is excusable is if the kitchen is on fire (because that puts the manuscript in danger, hehe)

      Stina, Welcome back to you too! I seem to be having comment problems too... it already ate one, plus it's struggling to give me the reply box and yadda yadda. Go Blogger! ;)

      Nana, you lucky thing! The rest will happen... and you'll smile ;)

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  6. Can I tell you about my story drives me crazy. I've heard "I've always wanted to write a book. Let me tell you about my idea..." at book signings too many times.

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  7. I get number 5 and 8 a lot!! Lol People who don't write don't get it.

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  8. I keep telling my husband, writing is a job. He doesn't believe. I can't write when he's home 'cause he's constantly interrupting and I lose my train of thought. I have written people into my book, some who have asked. I get tongue-tied when people ask, "What's your book about." And you're supposed to explain in a couple of sentences. I should print out the blurb and carry it around just for this occasion. Hah. Nice that you're back Lynda.

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  9. Oh my goodness, number 5. My husband has asked me that so many times!

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  10. I really think some people believe I sit around twiddling my thumbs all day. :)

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    Replies
    1. Diane, I haven't done any official book signings yet and still I get those comments. Crazy!

      Terri, yep... and what's with #8? It seems to be the question people feel is acceptable to ask writers even tho no one would ask that question from any other profession.

      Cathrina, it's particularly difficult explaining what a book is about when it's still in the creation stage, too.

      Rachel, hehehe. Coming from a husband, that's kind of nice. It's his way of showing you he loves you work and thinks ALL of it should be out there.

      Madeline, yes!! Especially when all you've done is editing all day and have little to show for all the effort.

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  11. Well I think you hit on all the big ones, Lynda. Happy New Year!

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  12. I'm particularly fond of the bonus question! Have a great writing year, Lynda

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  13. Haha, these are great--because they are so TRUE. Yeah, we live the life of leisure and fame, don't we? ;o) Happy 2014 to ya!

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  14. I have been asked quite a few of these questions. Some even ask me where do I get my ideas from. The question about how much money we writers makes irritates me.

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  15. Hahaha! Can I tell you my great story idea? I hear that way too often. Once is too much. You don't want to be rude, but at the same time you really don't want to hear it.

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  16. Seriously, they're all fantastic and so true :D I hate the money question with a passion, but the bonus questions takes the lead for me lol

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    1. Bish, happy New Year!!

      Lee, Wishing you a great writing year also.

      Carol, don't you? ;) But seriously... I told a random someone at a party that I was a writer and that person suddenly got all excited she knew a writer and started treating me like a celebrity. It was the weirdest experience.

      Rachna, ah yes, that ideas question is a common one. And the money question is just downright rude.

      Stephen, we need a cool, clever reply to that, one that makes a point but isn't rude... I haven't thought one up yet :(

      SK, I don't know why people think it's acceptable to ask a writer how much they make.

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  17. Getting the 'real' job is my favorite. I like the comment that goes, "I'm so surprised that your (name the genre) stories are selling at all. No one reads that stuff."
    *sigh&
    Diana at About Myself By Myself

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  18. lol never had one ask me to be in a book, that would be rather fun to do, put them in and make them some deranged alien thing lol

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  19. I think I already asked you number 2 years ago!

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    Replies
    1. my comment is below. I'm trialing a different way of responding to everyone...

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  20. I'd like to add, 'So, how's the querying coming along?'

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  21. Mostly it's the rolling of the eyes (oh, another 'writer'). They don't know what I know, however. Tenacity is a skill . . .

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    1. Diana, omgosh, I've never had someone say that comment to my face. Yikes.

      Pat, you made me laugh out loud.

      Dezzy, yes! And I did put you in my story!! AND I was happy to do it since you are such a loveable character. Unfortunately that particular novel didn't make it past the first draft.

      Suze, tears!

      DG, tenacity is one of the essencial skills a writer needs.

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  22. Aggghh... Number 11. People have no idea how disconcerting it is to be interrupted when you have hit your pace. I tend to get cranky. That makes the person doing the interrupting equally cranky (and defensive) and then it snowballs from there.

    Great list!

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  23. Heard all of these at one point. And yes, don't ask!

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  24. I have heard all of these too! And as I work in a bookstore the question that usually comes before these is: "Are you in school?" to which I say "No, I have a degree in Anthropology." And they say (while I am ringing them up, helping them find a book, or something of that ilk, "what do you want to do with it?" I love my job. So I say, "I work here and I write." Generally I don't get questions 4, 9 and 10 at work, but I certainly have from plenty of other sources. I try to be kind in my responses, and I sometimes end up *cough* over explaining my views/position on it :P You can't make everyone understand, but for some silly reason, in the moment my lips just think they should. At least, I think, they get the idea that it isn't likely wise to ask a writer one of these questions!

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  25. I get number 1 a lot, especially from my mom if I tell her I'm revising it again.

    Enjoy your new camera.

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  26. As a teacher, I had students ask me all the time if they could be in one of my books. I always told them I'd killed them off in the last one. Love the bonus.

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  27. Luckily, I've managed to avoid all those questions except #8 - and that one always comes from my husband so it's hard to avoid. *sigh*

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    1. Robin, The monster awakes! (I'm all too familiar with that beast...as is my husband, lol)

      Emily, aw, but I so want to ;)

      Drea, I hadn't thought of overexplaining. I must try that some time. That'll teach 'em!

      Natalie, ah family. Gotta love 'em.

      Susan, lol, I'm wondering what their reactions are to being killed off.

      Lexa, you ARE lucky!

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  28. Oh Lynda! You made me groan, I've heard each and every one of those questions. Usually I just grit my teeth and smile through it because there's nothing else to do. They won't understand my answers if they had to ask any of those questions.

    Jai

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  29. Oh yeah, these are the questions! Heard the bonus one quite a lot!

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  30. I've heard almost all of these and run for cover every time.

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  31. There will always be people out there who see being a writer/author as a third class job. Sadly you can't change someone's mind, you just have to stay true to yourself.

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  32. Cool about your new camera. I'm looking forward to seeing photos!
    I've been asked all these questions. Many more than once.

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  33. Totally get the interruption one - no one thinks I'm doing anything important!
    Glad you enjoyed the break - hope your new year is awesome!

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    1. Jai, writers become good teeth-gritters

      Suzanne, I think it's because they think we aren't doing anything important.

      Shelly, running for cover is wise

      Sheena-kay, well said.

      Carol, I have a lot of flower photos so far

      Jemi, I know, right? Happy New Year to you too :)

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  34. Mine are statements rather than questions: "You're always goofing off on the computer," "Can't you do that? I had to work today." Stuff like that. ;)

    M.L. Swift, Writer: The Best is Yet to Come

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    1. Ah yes, all so familiar. I'm lucky now. I have a husband who is super supportive and understands what it means to be a writer, even if he isn't a writer himself.

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  35. Luckily, the people I know have been well indoctrinated not to ask me anything about writing. It could end badly for them ;)

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  36. I've definitely been asked all of these. Plus, as a ghostwriter 'but, don't you want your name on it?'

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  37. Ha! Great post. And yes! I've been asked these questions. I can't believe people think writers do nothing. People think I have all the time in the world, but I never have enough to do what I need to do for my career. They also think it's a hobby and ask what your "real" job.

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  38. Haha, this was a fun list, though I'll admit I'm one of those people who loves talking about writing in just about any form - even these questions!

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    1. JE, we need to train them early... ;)

      Stu, hahahaha so funny. I'll have to remember that one the next time I meet another ghostwriter ;) lololol.

      Christine, yes!! omgosh, yes! I guess it's up to us to educate them ;)

      Nicole, ha, that's great. I'll admit writing is my favourite topic, but mainly with other writers. I tend to stop talking when the non-writer's eyes gloss over.

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  39. Ooooh... those questions are BAD! Most of those I can side-step, though. They still irritate me, because the people who ask usually have no clue as to what it takes to be a writer.

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  40. I can certainly relate to the bonus question, Lynda! A lot of people just don't understand writers

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  41. I've been asked a couple of those. I suppose every profession has its assumptions and misbeliefs. Like all the lawyer jokes. I wonder if anyone has done a study to see which profession had the biggest misconceptions about it. Might be interesting.

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  42. LOL! Most people I meet just assume being published=success, and then it's all about, "What are you working on now? When will it be out? Tell me all about it. Is it going to be made into a movie? I can't believe I know someone who's going to be famous!" And I'm like, "Well, I'd rather be writing it, thanks."

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    1. Misha, that's exactly it. They just don't understand what it's like to be a writer.

      Duncan, you need to train the ones closest to you to understand the pain of that last question.

      SP, my guess is writers ;)

      Crystal, oh yes! I love that question: is it going to be made into a movie. You have to say yes, don't you? ;)

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  43. When I get interrupted it is my kids, so I don't mind as much.

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  44. Oh, those are some good questions! How about: are you up to your word count for today? Can I buy it at Walmart or Costco?

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  45. These are great questions to crush a new writer's ego. Unfortunately, I ask myself many of these, too. And yes, David, my children and husband are my biggest interruptions, aside from my day job, of course. But I do have some good news. I have my second short story coming out in the February 2014 issue of Cricket Magazine, a YA literary magazine. Yay!! Great post for the new year, Lynda.

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  46. Number 9 is the SADDEST question!
    Have fun with the new toy!

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  47. This is one just recently asked, "How are those book sales going?" UGH!

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    Replies
    1. David, absolutely. Kids and spouses are the best kind of interruptions.

      Marta, lol. With the Walmart question maybe you should say something like, they're out of stock hahahaha. I'm so naughty.

      Victoria, a huge congratulations!!!

      Michelle, doesn't seem that long ago when everyone was reading on the train. Now they are all playing games on their phones.

      Donna, hahahaha, yarp, not a question one wants to hear unless we're talking six figures ;)

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  48. Welcome back.

    I haven't heard of all these, just a few. I don't like people asking about money, especially when they want to hear specific figures. I don't ask about their money and I want the same.

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  49. You know how you avoid these questions? Never tell anyone what you do.

    That's what I do. And no one ever questions me. They all think I spend my days doing nothing, jokes on them, the results will speak for themselves.

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  50. Was it okay to burst out laughing?

    Sorry, I couldn't help it. Yes, I've heard them all and no matter how I answer these sharp and pointy questions, the asker didn't get it.

    I really don't think it should take getting published to get support. ::sigh::

    Wonderful post as always. :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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  51. Hey, Lynda,

    Some people can be insensitive without knowing they're being that way. Something else I've been asked by a couple of people is when I can write their (life) story for them.

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    1. Medeia, it boggles my mind when people ask about how much money I make.

      DWei, I'll admit I don't always tell people what I do because of the inevitable questions.

      emaginette, it's absolutely okay to laugh... otherwise we might cry ;)

      Joy, fortunately I haven't been asked that particular one, though I have heard it's another common question.

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  52. Oh, I dislike these questions and I've received a few. I tend to just ignore it or say something to change the subject because in truth most people don't understand the whole publishing process.

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  53. LOL the bonus question is my favorite. I get distracted so easily on my own that the last thing I need is someone interrupting me. The money question is also a killer!

    Glad you enjoyed your break and wishing you a Happy New Year. :)

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  54. Hi Lynda!

    Oh boy, those are questions from civilians. lol Non-writer folk don't understand, and why should they? After five years learning the ropes I"m not even sure I do. :s
    We need a name for non-writer folk, like muggles. Oh, oops, I think that one's already taken.

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    1. TF, I totally agree.

      Julie, don't get me started about distractions ;)

      PK, a name for the non-writer folk: the sane ones?

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  55. When I'm writing I look very intimidating, I don't know why, but that's what I've been told. No one interupts me when I'm writing. Since most people know that I have a full time job and write full on the side, they usually ask me how I find the time and strength to do it all. There have been a few times when people have asked why I'd want to right a book instead of a movie. For those simple minded people I simply explain, that when my book becomes a movie, I'll make five times what a screenwriter would. Sometimes they still looked confused and I just smile, happy to be the enlightened one.

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  56. LOL, Lynda! I'm totally enjoying this... if it isn't the truth... :) :) :)

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  57. Toinette, you are going to have to teach me that look ;)

    Morgan, yes indeedy! Glad you enjoyed.

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  58. Aaah! That's my inner reaction to all those questions. Great list!

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  59. Oh I SO relate. I usually don't even get the 'can I interrupt you for a second?' Mostly it's, 'Good. You're not busy.'

    Thank you for helping us see the lighter side of the dark side of writing.

    Leanne ( http://readfaced.wordpress.com )

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  60. Tyrean, mine too

    Readfaced, lol that response from other people is so typical. It's good to laugh about it.

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  61. Great list! The most common one I get is about how I will soon be rich and famous. Ha!

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.