When people find out I’m an author, I get two reactions.
One: “Wow, that’s great!” Followed by many questions of what and how I write.
Two: “Oh.” Followed by a subtle eye roll and somewhat condescending questions about how easy it must be to use my writing to get rich without doing much work.
Thankfully, the first reaction is much more common, so I thought I would write up answers to the questions I’m most often asked. That way the next time someone asks me, I don’t even have to answer them, I’ll simply give them the link to this blog post (just kidding, I love to talk to people about writing).
Where do you get your ideas from?
Often from television. I love to watch a combination of science shows (think How the World Will End or Outrageous Acts of Science), true crime shows (Dateline or Fear Thy Neighbor), and adventure/history (Mysteries at the Museum or Expedition Unknown). So, my book ideas are really driven by my interests.
But sometimes ideas will hit me out of the blue when I’m sitting at a stoplight or trying to pay attention in church, and I have to write them down or lose them, almost like God is playing a mischievous game of hide-and-seek inside my head.
What is your writing schedule like?
Routines feel like a too-tight sweater for me, and yet I get more done with a routine. So, I try to be flexible while giving myself freedom to get lost in the writing for longer than I planned or to quit early when I need to go to the grocery store because we only have ranch dressing and pickles left in the fridge. Usually, I write for a few hours while the kids are in school. I wish I could write longer, but when I do the errands pile up. Inconveniently, my kids and my husband need to eat more than pickles and ranch every day. At this stage of parenting, feeding the family is my biggest time sucker.
Where do you write?
That depends on what I’m writing. If I’m creating new words in a new story, then I work best
at a coffee shop with some distractions. But editing requires deeper concentration, and I prefer a quieter environment like the library or my office at home. But as most other writers will tell you, life is busy and you learn to write when you can. I’ve hand-written in the car pool line, in line to vote, and while waiting for kids at the dentist just to get the story out. And I have to get the story out, because that’s the only way it can take life in my books.
Would you write other genres?
This usually comes from people who discover they like me as a person, but don’t like to read the genre that I typically write. The answer is yes, absolutely. I will write the story that comes into my head and excites me, then figure out which genre it fits best in. There are only two that I won’t write due to personal and moral reasons: Horror and Erotica.
Are you rich? How are your books doing? (A subtle way of asking, Are you rich?)
Nope, not rich. Most writers aren’t. In this new culture of self-publishing, there are more and more books produced every year and writers have the same problem as every other business person—how to get noticed among a sea of options. There are wonderful, fantastic books that don’t sell much, and there are awful books that make the best seller list, and then there’s everything in between. All I can do is write the best book I can, try to tell people about it, and leave the sales results to God.
I could never be that creative, how do you do it? (said with a little bit of awe)
Many people look at art and artists as mystical people beyond comprehension, but the truth is we are just people who have a certain gift. God doles out the gifts and it’s merely up to us to use them. For instance, I have no idea how my son can swish a dozen 3-point shots in a row or how a friend of mine can make a gourmet meal for her family every night because I don’t have those gifts. If I could have picked my gift, for sure it would have been writing first, but I also would have liked for God to give me a beautiful singing voice (He didn’t).
I’ve always wanted to write, but I can’t …
This one isn’t a question, but I’m including it here because it comes up often and makes me a little sad. The words “I can’t” are always followed by a list of reasons why this person isn’t following their dream. The only thing I can do at that point is encourage them to let go of their fear and take the plunge. Writing can be addictive and time consuming, but it’s worth every moment when you hear from your readers and realize your book has really connected with them.