Sparking discussions of writing.
Asking questions is a good way to extract information quickly from a more experienced writer, compare the working habits and experiences of writers from different walks of life, or dig into the collective minds of a group of writers.
Here’s a handy list of obvious questions. Running through them in a group situation or in an interview with a writer you admire should give a good idea of interests and background. All are suggestions, to be broadened or narrowed as suits. Hit skip on any questions that aren’t relevant. Insert new ones, as needed, including more specialist ones. This is an exploration after all and you are after treasure: after exploring the surface, deeper questions will naturally present themselves.
31 Questions for Writers
- When did you know you had to write?
- Do you have any formal training? Experience with workshops, online courses or other learning opportunities?
- How did you learn to write? How did you come to know what you know today about how to write?
- Do you feel compelled to write? At its extreme, hypergraphia is diagnosed in individuals who suffer a pathological obsession with writing.
- Ideally, want do you want to succeed at with you writing?
- What is your corpus so far? What’s hidden under the bed, a stash being a good thing, since it represents experience and exploration, both creative and practical.
- Are you more a plotter or a panster, a planner or a free-hand writer?
- Do you believe writing is more rules or magic, craft or talent?
- Are there certain rules you stick by, or rules of writing you have made for yourself (including to rule your work habits)?
- Are there life-lessons you have learned that have improved your writing?
- What are your biggest achievements or favorite personal milestones from your writing journey?
- How good do you think your vocabulary is – compared to what you’d like it to be
- Do you have an easy time crafting beautiful sentences?
- Do you hear voices when you write?
- Do you get writer’s block? If so, what gets you past it and back to words on the page?
- What’s your favorite book and why?
- Who is your favorite author and why?
- What’s your current project?
- Any projects you just couldn’t finish?
- How many ongoing projects do you have?
- Ever loved a 1st draft?
- Are you a slow or fast writer?
- Do you prefer pen and paper, computer, or dictation? When and why do you switch between these methods?
- What kind of software do you use? Word, Scrivener, Other?
- Do you have a special place you like to work? Or can you work anywhere? What gets you in the mood for writing?
- Do you belong to a writer’s group? If so, what’s your favorite gain from participating?
- Do you have a writing partner?
- Do you have beta readers?
- If you look back on earlier works, what thoughts come to mind?
- What are your sources of inspiration?
- Do you have advice for aspiring writers based on your experiences?
At this point, you’ll either be all talked out and needing another coffee (or beer), or the discussion will just be warming up. Either way, you’ll likely have a lot of new ideas, a better gauge of those you were talking to, and yet more questions.
If you feel inspired to share, put your answers to any or all questions below in the comments! Or add new questions you find helpful.