When I tell people I’m a writer, I typically get a slew of questions. Aside from “are you published?” (yes) and “where can I buy your books” (here), I’d like to take a moment to answer some of the questions people seem to like to ask me, how I feel about those questions, and which ones you should never ask of any writer.
- Where do you get your ideas?
- How much money do you make?
- What’s your writing/book/short story about?
- What is your writing process like?
- I want to write a book about [x]. How do I do it?
- Do you ever get writer’s block?
- Why do you write horror? What’s wrong with you?
- Why don’t you write like Harry Potter novels or something? Those make lots of money.
These are the questions I plan to tackle in my next blog series. So let’s take a look at the number one question that people who don’t write ask me: where do you get your ideas?
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked that question, I could set up a nice little nest egg for my retirement. The truth is, no one really knows where our ideas truly come from. For me, though, I have to say it’s an active imagination and the ability to ask “what if?” I look at something, and a story will form around it. I dream, and wake up the next day with something I want to write about. I read and get inspired. I watch a film and think of ways I could tell a story like it but from a different perspective.
This is a question that’s perfectly legit, yes, and I attempt to answer it as best I can, but it’s really such a tiring question. People ask this one in interviews constantly, and being fresh and lively in an answer can be trying.
A better question would be: How do you shape your ideas from its vague form into a full story? This question gives a writer something to work with—something that isn’t the usual opener. Whether you’re doing an interview with a writer, or just meeting someone who writes, it’s an improvement on the tired old question about where a writer gets their ideas.