FAQ’s You SHOULDN’T Ask in Your Writing Community
First and foremost, as a writer (technical and creative),
PINTEREST IS YOUR FRIEND.
Almost everything you need to know about the craft and career has a post on there about it. Everything for the novice and the professional included. Gotta question, Pinterest will have the answer–at least that I’ve found.
Nevertheless, there will always be a writing community member who will ask everyone else one of these general questions. In a time when the internet is the giver of wisdom, it only makes sense that everyone angrily responds with “LOOK IT UP!” I remember being in a community and asking others why they even bother to respond to those posts if it only annoys them and makes them demean the poster. A long discussion ensued about laziness, common sense, confidence, and other reasons why these questions are too inappropriate–for someone who’s serious about the practice–to be asked.
As a teacher, I insisted that many youths seek help from those who they think are experts because using the internet can be overwhelming. The others insisted that that reality has been the case for every generation; but, that never stopped those of us who were serious and put in the time and energy to find our answers manually. While I tend to be a little more empathetic to anyone in need, I do very much agree that nothing we truly want in life is easy.
So, as a writing community moderator and member of many others, I’ve seen frequently asked questions that qualify as these “inappropriate questions” and compiled them here. I’m not going to give you the answer to the questions because there are varying perspectives on each that YOU SHOULD LOOK UP on your own. But, I’m nice enough to at least point you in the right direction.
I’m splitting the list into two; here are the first five questions.
How do I become a writer?
You…write…right? That’s an easy one! Why would anyone ask that?!
I know, right! That’s what we’re trying to say. That question, if you’re serious about actually taking on the task, is completely out of line. It’s practically common sense! Now, there is more to “being a writer” than just writing; but, those specifics aren’t identified in the question. It would be different if the question was like, “how do I become a better writer?” or “how do I become a freelance writer?” There’s info on that, too, but, at least we know there’s a direction.
Essentially, if you want to be a writer, research what a writer is in the first place and figure out what you even mean with that question!
How do I get rid of writer’s block?
Writer’s block is so common, it’s ridiculous. But, that fact is exactly why you don’t need to ask it. Hell, we don’t know; we have it, too. Yeah, we can give you some ideas on how we try to battle it, personally, but it’s not really different from what you would read on an article like this mine.
Try to be specific by explaining what you have already tried; then, pose it as “is there any other ideas on what I can do?” Letting the reader’s know you’re already making an effort and just struggling will bring much more empathy and support.
Really, that goes for anything in life.
Can someone read my work?
Can we? Yes. Will we—
Are you pulling the “can” vs– You know what? Doesn’t matter. I’m either case, if you’re not in the right community, it’s not gonna happen. There are different types of writing communities, and yours may not be a beta-reading/critique one. Check the community rules and guidelines first to make sure you’re even allowed to post your work for others to view. I know in my community, we don’t offer that feature and have another community, designated for exactly that, to which we direct them.
Don’t join a community just to have everyone read your work–unless that’s its purpose. Hire beta-readers or editors for that. Communities are for support.
What’s a good idea for a new story?
Okay, I’m done. No one actually asks this, do they?!
Yeah, they do! What makes us want to write (or direct, etc) is our ability to generate story ideas. If you can’t come up with ideas for stories, then you can’t be an original writer. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a storyteller, but you’re just not a writer in that way.
Now, this is different from writer’s block. Asking others how to get the juices flowing and asking them for an idea itself are very different. Again, be specific what you ask.
Oh, and look through prompts for ideas. I gotta board for that, too!
What’s a better word to describe…?
Try the THESAURUS! I can’t even! People are ridiculous!
That’s not new news. Now, this one can be misleading. Obviously, if you have a word and you want to use a different that has the same meaning, the thesaurus can do that for you. But, I don’t think that’s what the poster means when (s)he asks that.
The question is posed wrong.
You may or may not remember connotations and denotations in school (which I will cover another time). Basically, th connotation is the “emotional definition” while denotation is the “technical definition”. Essentially, at least; it’s actually a little more complicated than that, and that’s where people get lost. Maybe this will help:
*laughing uncontrollably* Oh, wow, that was great!
Anyway. Do you notice how the change in words can make a difference. Not only that, but just how we describe a word can make a difference. So, for the sake of your attention span, let me wrap this suggestion up.
When asking for “another word”, try this to actually get help from peers:
- “What’s a better word for —- in a situation where…”
- Ask for an appropriate colloquialism, idiom, jargon, etc.
- “How do you describe the (insert sense or experience) of (word)?”
- “What’s a better word for —? I’ve tried —, —, and — and they just don’t seem to fit!”
It’s really not that complicated.
Notice all these questions can be made more specific or answered with a little research. Give us details we need to help you choose the right word (which a thesaurus cannot do). Give us options and comparisons to help us narrow it down. Let us know you’re ultimate goal by asking and/or doing this.
Indicate that you’ve thought this through; maybe you’re just struggling to match it up. Show us that you’re not just asking the question without checking anywhere else first.
What questions do you find yourself asking, or answering in writing communities?
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