The one part of nonfiction writing I dread the most is interviewing people. Well actually I think it’s asking that I hate the most. It seems weird to ask a complete stranger and I’m tired of asking people I know. As a result I haven’t done many interviews, but I have made plenty of mistakes. Here’s a few I thought might be helpful. I know I’ll be avoiding them in the future.
- Interviewing friends I thought everything I needed to know was already in my head. I didn’t think there was any need to do research like I did for strangers. But I realized that research stage was helpful for many different reasons. It gave me a chance to narrow down what information about them would be relevant to the final story. I’m also able to brainstorm questions and start to form the main topics that will be covered.
- I admit I’m a big procrastinator. More than once I’ve waited a long time to start writing. The longer I’ve waited the harder the writing process become. It’s harder to focus, remember details, or feel excited about writing.
- I once did an interview with my notes in three different places. I don’t know why but I had everything organized in different ways. It ended up making things kind of complicated for me during the interview. It also made it harder when I went back to them in the writing process. The best part being I misplaced one of the notebooks that had most of the notes I made during the interview.
- I think my biggest mistake has been avoiding doing a live interview. I started doing interviews by email because it was convenient and easy. Especially if scheduling was an issue, it let the subject answer whenever they had the time. It became my go to thing and I didn’t even consider other options. Then I realized that email can also easily be forgotten or ignored. I’ve had people commit to an interview then never respond after I sent the questions. After a reminder or two I finally gave up. I lost out on an interview and experience that I needed.