A friend and I recently had a conversation that I found interesting. My friend’s partner, who is also a writer, had mentioned that a surefire way to ensure that a writer does not write on a certain subject is to suggest that they write about that subject. I find this to be absolutely true, and I dare to take it one step further. In my case, if someone is to even mention a topic/character flaw/interesting tidbit/anything at all and follow it up with, “Actually that would make for an interesting story,” I will not use any part of it. In fact, if I have already written something that resembles what this person has just suggested, I will go back and change it.

That is because, as a writer, I want to be in complete control of my work.

Now this doesn’t mean that I am not open to suggestions (I meet with a writing group once a week, wherein I spend a couple of hours receiving nothing but suggestions), but it does mean that I want to create my stories.

Of course as writers, we steal from life. I steal from everything around me, but I don’t want anyone to know that. I do not want someone to notice that my character’s camping trip mimics a camping trip I myself took.

This same notion applies to cooking pizzas.

I steal pizza ideas all day long. There is not a meal that goes by that I don’t wonder if that meal could somehow be placed onto a pizza. In the same light, there is not an event that occurs that I do not consider for a story. I spend my entire day thinking about different things to use for stories and pizzas. (Sad, right?)

This means that when somebody approaches me with an interesting anecdote, I am already writing a story around it or placing a pizza crust beneath it.

Part of the joy of writing for me is the rush of having a good idea. I like the thought of my brain piecing together the story. The same goes for pizza. The best part of creating my work of art is pulling it from the oven and hearing someone say, “How the hell did you come up with that?”

Everything in my life becomes fodder for my art. But this means, that when someone suggests openly that it should be used for such, the thrill is gone. Even if I had the idea first, it will feel pointless, because it has already been spoken out loud. Plus, if someone catches on that I steal most of my stories, then who will think I am a genius?

What makes us writers, is the way in which we approach life. The lens through which we experience life is colored by our obsessions. Whether your obsession is painting, writing, cooking, or murder, you will view the entirety of your day with that obsession in the back of your mind. So remember that when you mention an interesting tidbit, I am most likely going to use it in a story or on a pizza (similar to how I stole the idea for this post from a conversation). And if you don’t want me to use it, simply suggest that I do.

Remember, the writer is an elusive thief, who never wants to be found out. We want people to think we weave our intricate tales on the first take. Never rewriting and always creating from scratch. Just try not to call us out on it.