Friday, November 13, 2015

12 Ridiculous Questions Non-Writers Ask Writers (And 12 Ways To Respond to Them)

Writers are put in a unique position because our profession is considered both a job and a hobby. The writer's life is also very private, since most of our work involves sitting behind a computer screen. This results in "regular" people having no idea what a writer's life entails.

And, unfortunately, this ignorance leads to non-writers making really, really insane comments about writing. Below are 12 of my favorites, along with some recommended (and not recommended) come-backs.
1. Non-Writer: "So, you still writing?"
  • How writers want to respond: "Am I still breathing? Yeah? Then yes, of course I'm still writing." 
  • How writers should respond: "Yup."
2. Non-Writer: "Yeah, I have this book idea I've always wanted to try, but I just don't have time to write it. Say, we should collaborate on the idea and split the money."
  • How writers want to respond: "Okay, so many things wrong with that statement. First off, what do you mean you don't have time to write? You find time. You make time. Just like any other job. And no, I don't want to collaborate. I already have 8 other book ideas lined up and our 'collaboration' would last about three weeks and then explode when you try to put a love triangle into the story." 
  • How writers should respond: "I'm pretty busy right now, but maybe some other time." 
3. Non-Writer: "Oh, you're a writer? So how much money do you make doing that?" Or, slightly less subtly, "A writer? You know you can't make money doing that." 
  • How writers want to respond: "Gah. This question AGAIN? Stop rubbing it in!"
  • How writers should respond: "Ha, yeah. I hardly make any money. I'm going to have to go live in a gutter in a few months. Wanna lend me some dough?" Then step back and watch the other person look for the closest exit.  
4. Non-Writer: "So, when are you going to publish that book of yours?" 
  • How writers want to respond: Throttle the other person while screaming: "It doesn't work like that!"
  • How writers should respond: "Oh, who knows? Hopefully in a year or so. There are a lot of complicated steps that have to take place first." 
5. Non-Writer: "Oh my gosh, you finally published that book! Can I have a free copy?" 
  • How writers want to respond: "I worked my tail off to publish that book. It represents years of hard work. If you can't dig up enough money to honor that, then you'll just have to lump it. Because no, I will not be giving away my hard work and passion for free." 
  • How writers should respond: "I worked my tail off to publish that book. It represents years of hard work. If you can't dig up enough money to honor that, then you'll just have to lump it. Because no, I will not be giving away my hard work and passion for free." 
6. Non-Writer: "So, like, you're going to be the next Suzanne Collins?" 
  • How writers want to respond: "Suzanne Collins? Pfft. No. I'm going to be totally unique. Ain't no think like me 'cept me." 
  • How writers should respond: "Ha. No. I'm going to be the first [insert your name here]." 
7. Non-Writers: "You write fantasy? Why don't you write some real?" 
  • How writers want to respond: *mumble profanities under breath* "Fantasy is real. You'd know that if you actually took the time to read and think about it. It reflects the world around us in a way that makes it understandable to us."
  • How writers should respond: "Fantasy is real. It reflects the world around us in a way that makes it understandable to us." Proceed to recommend them a fantasy novel that you think will help them understand this concept. 
8. Non-Writers: "Whaddya mean you're busy? You don't even do anything all day." 
  • How writers want to respond: "Don't do anything all day? Don't do ANYTHING all day? Let me explain something to you..." *Launches into long explanation about writer's platforms, social media, writing schedules, editing, outlining, and character development* 
  • How writers should respond: "Actually, I get a lot of ideas from watching Netflix all day, so that doesn't count as not doing anything."   
9. Non-Writers: After reading your story: "So which character is you?"
  • How writers want to respond: "No. Just. Just no. That's not how this works. That's not how ANY of this works." 
  • How writers should respond. "All of them and none of them. That's about as accurate of an explanation as I can give you that you'll actually understand. Sorry." 
10. Non-Writers: After reading your story: "So which character is me?"
  • How writers want to respond: *points at character that dies a horrible death* "That one." 
  • How writers should respond: "Oh, none of them. I try not to write characters after people I know. My readers wouldn't be able to handle that much awesomeness." 
11. Non-Writers: "Writers are really weird. You know most of them go crazy. You gotta be careful or you might turn out like that, too." 
  • How writers want to respond: "Exactly where are you getting this information? Also, weird is pretty subjective, so your idea of weird is probably my idea of awesome."
  • How writers should respond: "Too late to be careful. Nothing can save me now." 
12. Non-Writer: After listening to your story idea: "You know, that's actually pretty stupid." 
  • How writers want to respond: 
  • How writers should respond: *realizes the non-writer is actually right* "Oh. Wow. This is awkward." 
And there you have it. 12 of the most ridiculous questions we writers get. If you have any to add, leave a comment below. 

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  1. This. Is. True. And it's death a lot of the time to not say what we want to say...

    1. True. True. True. Well said Benita. And great post Hannah! Both a true and honest read =) Found you here, by following Benita's post!! Glad I did. Thanks to you both =)

  2. 5 the sass is real, LOL! Absolutely cracked up at these. And yes I've heard several >_> Enough to drive you mental and teach you patience, I suppose...

    1. Too true. But which will take place first: Insanity or patience? ;-)

  3. Replies
    1. Yay! Glad you enjoyed it. 11 was one of my favorites, too. =)

  4. Terrific fun! I am seriously thinking of posting this on the fridge. Number 11 makes me think you have my phone tapped (my best friend says that sort of thing all the time, though she loves to tease). You should so expand on this. Maybe a short book, or just go on the podcast circuit. I'd tune in, for sure.

    1. Hmmm. A podcast is an interesting idea. I've been toying with that for a while. I'll let you know if I ever go for it. =)
      Your friend sounds fun. We all need somebody like that to keep us grounded. =) Glad you enjoyed the post, Han!

  5. Thank you so much for this post. It was so much fun reading it.
    And, besides, probably the most important fact; I LEARNED a lot!

  6. Luckily for me, the only people who have much to do with my writing right now besides me are my immediate family members - my mother proofreads for me and my younger brothers gush over entertaining dragons and sassy princesses. No need to shoot them. :)

    And I was already insane before I started writing, so thank you for the warning but I've got it covered already and you may want to move away slowly so I don't hurl a 12-quart bowl of bread dough in your face so I can accurately record the reaction. :D


    1. *backs away slowly* Not that I don't like bread dough, but I don't fancy having it thrown in my face before 10 AM. Little too early for that kind of stuff. =D

  7. A+ for use of Supernatural meme.

  8. This is pure gold.
    Gold I tell you!

    Here's one I'm sick of:
    "You write fantasy? You mean like Game of Thrones?"

    This one makes me see red.

    1. Oh gosh. That one is bad. Just stare them down and ask, "Did use just use the phrase 'Game of Thrones' in connection to my writing? Tell me you didn't just do that." =D

  9. Love this list! It's all so true!
    Oddly, when people ask what I write and I say "mostly fantasy and historical fiction," the most common response I get is "Oh, lots of people write fantasy." I'm never quite sure how to take this - it's even hard to tell by their tone of voice what they mean. Do they think I'm spot-on with my genre choice and will be popular, or do they think it's overcrowded and I'm foolish for writing it? I usually just nod and smile.

    1. Funny, I get that one a lot too. Honestly, I think it tends to be something people say in an attempt to make a connection with us fantasy writers. They want to show us that they know other people who write fantasy and are kind of familiar with the idea. But it does depend on the person, too. Sometimes it's a put-down and sometimes it's excitement. Smiling and nodding is a good way to handle it if you're not sure. That's what I do. =D

  10. Great post and spot on!

    You didn't mention this one, but I get it a lot and it really bugs me: "So, what's your story about?"

    What I want to say: "It's a deep and profound exploration of human nature and the meaning of existence but with a thrilling plot arc, really complicated character development, an amazing hero, this really awesome minor character (who only appears once but will be really important in the sequel), killer plot twists that I'd love to tell you about but spoilers, loads of subtle foreshadowing and symbolism, heartbreak, death, trauma, tears..." *becomes incoherent and passes out*

    What I actually say: "Um... it's about this guy..."

    1. Lol! YES. I can't tell you how many times I've done that to people. "There a guy...and some stuff happens...people die...It's really good. I think."

  11. So much truth to this post. *nods repeatedly*

    The whole "fantasy isn't real" tidbit... aghhh. I love how your recommended response is the same thing, but without the profanities. xD EXACTLY HOW I FEEL WHEN PEOPLE MAKE THIS COMMENT.

  12. The one that gets under my skin most is "Ooh. Can I read something you've written?" Usually said by total strangers I have just been introduced to by the friend of a friend of a friend.

    What I want to say: "(in the kind of tone that bad novels describe as dripping with sarcasm) Yeah, I would love to just bare my soul to you. Open up months and years of hard work and emotional investment to your "constructive criticism". I'm sure you fully appreciate how much of myself I put into my writing and you'll be very careful not to reduce me to a quivering puddle of self loathing and suicidal thoughts."

    What I actually say: "I'm not sure I have anything that's good enough."

    1. Oh yeah! How could I forget about that one? It's so awkward. I've never been able to come up with a good response, but I like yours. =) Thanks for the comment!

  13. LOL, this is perfect!!! :D


  14. After reading this, I thought about posting this article on a reader-friend's wall with the comment, "After reading #12, I thought of you." But as I began to do so, I realized that she's a girl and might think I was talking about her with the pictures, so I decided against it.

    1. Yeah, she's a fan of Supernatural, but I'm just afraid that she'd focus on the thought of getting shot for spite, so again, um, no.

    2. Haha! I see what you mean. You never can tell with some girls. Could go either way. =D

  15. I showed this to my creative writing class and they had a fit over it! We all were laughing so hard, nodding enthusiastically, snorting, and rolling our eyes. Awesome honesty.

  16. Yep to all of these. And can I add one of my personal favourites (said to me once) "You're a writer? Oh. Most of the writers I've read about tend to be quite pretentious."
    MY RESPONSE: So, if it turns out that I am will you be pleased or disappointed?

    1. Lol! That is a good response. I will remember it should I ever find myself in need of a good comeback. =D Thanks!

  17. The Sam and Dean image killed me. Next time someone bothers me I'm going to tell my friend to do this routine. If someone annoys us, they pretend to whisper something to me and I respond with "Not right now. Too many witnesses". Or vice versa. Awesome post.

  18. This is so hilarious (and true...) But here is my absolute least favorite question to get asked by non-writers (and I'm not kidding, EVERYONE asks me this):

    Them: So how long is that book you're writing?
    Me: About 75k words.
    Them: *blank expressions* How many pages is it?
    Me: Um... a little over 200?
    What I actually want to say: There's a reason writers usually don't measure by page count. Page count practically tells you nothing about the length of a story, because it's affected by font size, font type, margins, spacing, and also the page count is usually higher in an actual book rather than a word document. But, with Times New Roman, size 12, exactly 20.9 pt spacing (which for some odd reason is my favorite), 8.5x11 inch paper, with one-inch margins all around, my book is currently 217 pages long. This includes the title, copyright, dedication, acknowledgements, and all other front matter pages, and does not include page breaks for new chapters because I haven't added those in yet. I hope that answers your question. In the future, don't ask me for a page count. xD

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  20. LOL so true and annoying .. same thing with my art


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