Every parent knows the torment of a four-year-old’s interrogation. Why is the sky blue? How do birds fly? … Questions are the backflips of the mind. They are, as the early-twentieth-century explorer Frank Kingdon-Ward once said, ‘the creative acts of intelligence.’ –from Lisa Garrigues’ Writing Motherhood
The past couple years, I’ve gotten in touch with my inner four-year-old in a way I never thought I would. I don’t often talk about my work-work here (except for lessons learned from writing direct mail); however, I will now, briefly.
In the last year, I’ve conducted what feels like a bazillion but is probably closer to 50 interviews, in order to write articles. All have dealt with science–not exactly in my cozy-and-comfortable arts and humanities wheelhouse. I’ve queried doctors about the symptoms of stroke and about virtual medical delivery systems. I’ve asked engineering students about minuscule solar cells and unmanned aerial vehicles. And I’ve asked budding scientists to describe and describe again a headset that can help detect Alzheimer’s. And much, much more.
Have all my questions spurred Grade A scientific conversation? Probably not. Have I asked a dumb question or two. Probably.
But I asked, and oftentimes asked a second time. (In layman’s terms please, I ask. If I still don’t understand, I say, Pretend you had to teach this concept to a child.)
There it is.
Ask questions like a child. Listen. Ask again. That’s my writerly advice for the week.
(Looking for interviewing tips? Here you go.)
What’s your best “writerly” advice?