The questions writers get asked
Posted 10/31/17 (Tue)
What A Joke
By John Bayer
“What’s it like being a writer?”
It’s very glamorous. Writers are always invited to lavish parties, and are called on to entertain foreign dignitaries with our witty remarks.
Plus you can write off the cost of your antidepressants as a business expense.
“Do you have a writing schedule?”
Of course! Week in and week out, I have to come up with the 400 words required to fill this column space. You can’t generate that kind of workload unless you have a bit of discipline.
Here’s my weekly schedule:
Wednesday – read my column in the newspaper and marvel at my own brilliance.
Thursday – remind myself that the deadline for my next column is Sunday night; watch television.
Friday – continue watching television.
Saturday – sit down and try to come up with a topic for the column; give up after 10 minutes; go out and spend the day with friends.
Sunday – wake up in a panic that I haven’t written my column yet; pretend to listen to the pastor’s sermon while I scribble jokes on the church program; finish the column around 11 p.m. in a cold sweat.
Monday – sleep.
Tuesday – commit to write my column earlier this time around; reward my commitment with a 12-hour Mr. Belvedere marathon on television.
Wednesday – repeat the process.
“Where do you get your ideas?”
This is the question Stephen King and I get asked most often. And it’s a difficult question to answer. An idea for a column can come from anywhere: a news story I’ve read or a movie I’ve seen.
Many times, the ideas are born out of what’s happening in my own life. People enjoy laughing at the pain of others, so I know that if something terrible has happened to me, writing about it will be a big hit with you.
When all else fails, you sit your butt in front of the computer and force yourself to sit there until you’ve written. After a few hours of nothing happening, you’ll start to question whether you can even call yourself a writer. You’re a fraud. Eventually, you remind yourself that in four years you’ve never missed a deadline.
Then a little voice in the back of your head says: “That’s an idea: Write about being a writer.”
So you do. Not because it’s a good idea, but because it’s 10:30 on Sunday night.