You Already Have The Answers: Understanding Questions With Author And Screenwriter Amanda Deibert

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What questions are you asking in your daily and work life?

Amanda Deibert is an author, screenwriter, and comic book writer. Her comic book writing includes the New York Times best-selling series DC Super Hero Girls, Wonder Woman Agent of Peace, DC’s The Doomed and the Damned, Teen Titans Go!, Batman And Harley Quinn, and Wonder Woman ’77 and the New York Times #1 Best Selling anthology Love Is Love, for DC Comics, HyperSpace Stories for Lucas Film/Dark Horse, Darkwing Duck and Red Sonja for Dynamite and John Carpenter’s Tales For A HalloweeNight Vol. 2-7 for Storm King Comics as well as the graphic novel Work for a Million for Penguin Random House’s McClelland & Stewart. Amanda’s television work includes He-Man and The Masters of the Universe and another yet-to-be-announced series on Netflix along with work for CBS, SyFy, Hulu, Quibi and four years as the writer for former Vice President Al Gore’s annual climate broadcast, 24 Hours of Reality. Her guided gratitude journal, You Already Have the Answers is available now wherever books are sold. Amanda joins Forbes to discuss her career path from comics to questions and more.

Goldie Chan: Hello Amanda, thank you for joining us. What has your career path been?

Amanda Deibert: I don’t know that it has been one path as much as many intersecting paths. I’ve written late night comedy, children’s animated shows, talks shows, comic books ranging from superheroes to horror, climate change broadcasts and an inspirational guided journal. It feels chaotic on paper, but it’s all very fun and fulfilling in different artistic ways.

I get asked things like, “How do you go from writing Wonder Woman to writing for former Vice President Al Gore to He-Man?” The answer is that I love challenges and I love saying, “Yes” even when I am actually terrified. I think most of the time we know deep down that we are capable of SO MUCH more than we allow ourselves to believe. It’s a big part of why I titled my book, You Already Have the Answers. I don’t mean it in a glib way, there’s a lot of hard work involved. I spent many years honing my craft and building my career. It’s the old adage of preparation meeting opportunities. For example, I had been making my own webcomics for two years (illustrated by my wife Cat Staggs) when a comedy video I made about Batman went viral and an editor who had seen my work offered me a chance to write Wonder Woman. It was a random opportunity that felt out of nowhere, but I had also been doing the work and I was ready.

We all contain multitudes. We all have a variety of interests and probably several things we become experts in over the course of our lives and I have really embraced that in my career. Everything we do, know, and experience, enriches us and helps us to connect with others more deeply. And all of writing – all of art- is ultimately connection and communication.

Chan: What inspired you to write You Already Have the Answers?

Deibert: I absolutely didn’t intend to write this book. Back in 2016, I started asking simple questions on Twitter. It was what I think of as the beginning of volatile times we are still grappling with as a society. The nation felt on edge, everyone was at each other’s throats for reasons that made a lot of sense. I wanted to do something to help remind people of the good things in life, but not in a toxic positivity way. I don’t believe “everything happens for a reason” or that you always need to look on the bright side. The questions were, and are, more along the lines of reminding people: You have been through hard things. You might still be going through something very difficult and that’s not fair. You’ve also managed to do some amazing things. To love and be loved. To help others. And others have supported you as well- sometimes even strangers. All of this is so important; to honor who we are and what we’ve come from and what we’ve overcome.

So I started asking simple questions, “What is a risk you’ve taken that’s really paid of?” “Tell me about a time a stranger did something kind for you.” “What is way you are proud to be different from how you were raised?” I thought a few people would answer. Instead it went viral. People were opening up in very authentic and vulnerable ways despite it being a public forum. Anytime I would stop, people would say “I miss your questions, Amanda. I look forward to your questions and reading people’s answers.” So I kept going… It’s been 6 years and I don’t see it ending anytime soon.

People started suggesting they’d like to read these answers in a book, but I didn’t feel comfortable sharing other people’s stories. Those weren’t, and aren’t, my stories to tell. Instead I came up with the idea of putting the questions into a book. With a different theme each month ranging from “What you are doing right” to” the helpers”, to “where you come from” to “when things get dark.” There’s one question for every day. And to give it the communal feel that occurred organically online I open each month with a short essay with my own thoughts on the subject and a few of my own answers to questions. I don’t normally share my own stories in the Twitter threads because I never want it to be about ME. I want it to be a place to share. For the book, I changed this a bit, because it is important for me that the vulnerability is shared. You aren’t doing this alone.

Chan: What is your favorite prompt from your book?

Deibert: “What is something you are proud to have overcome?”

Chan: How do you encourage your community?

Deibert: Listening. People need to feel seen and heard and we all have a story to tell. Being heard and believed is life-changing.

Chan: What kind of stories or content would you like to see more of, especially online?

Deibert: I love the kindness of strangers. Stories where people help each other for no other reason than both are human. Also, anything that encourages and uplifts children.

Chan: What is a dream project you’d love to work on or a collaborator that you’d love to partner with?

Deibert: I want to re-start my podcast, Cafe at the End of the World. And I’d love to be able to bring all of my friends and people I admire from so many walks of life on to share their answers.

Chan: Any branding or career advice for this new year?

Deibert: Your own unique perspective is always the correct brand choice. Authenticity wins every time. It is wonderful to be inspired by people you admire, but you still have to do things in a way that is true to YOU. It seems trite, but it’s actually very difficult to be authentic and vulnerable. The payoff is immeasurable though.



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