Monday, June 13, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions about Writing

During interviews, I'm often asked about writing. Here are some of the most common questions I receive:

Q: When did you first consider yourself a writer? 
A: I wrote a lot of poetry when I was young. (I don’t write poetry anymore.) And I always wanted to be a writer … or ruler of the universe … they’re kind of the same thing. But I honestly considered myself a writer way back in elementary school when I wrote a poem about roller-skating, and it was published in a small booklet.

Q: Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?
A: I chose the traditional publishing route, because it felt like the right choice for me. I wanted the editorial input of a talented agent, and I wanted the business expertise of a publishing house. My advice for writers working toward being published via the traditional route is to make sure your manuscript is as polished as possible before querying agents. Then when you receive feedback from agents or editors, consider their advice carefully and improve your manuscript based on the feedback you’ve received.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
A: Christi Corbett (author of ALONG THE WAY HOME) advised me to keep an “I don’t suck” file, which is basically a resource of reviews that compliment my writing. That way any time a rejection or terrible review comes my way, I can refer back to the flattering items and not feel quite so awful.

Q: What are some of the common challenges that new and experienced authors face and what advice do you have for overcoming them?
A: The most common challenge is rejection – an agent rejecting a query, an editor rejecting a submission, or a reader rejecting a book. Rejection is the toughest test a writer faces. And honestly, the only way to overcome it is to eat a lot of chocolate refer back to the “I don’t suck” file.

Q: What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? 
A: Revise. Revise. Revise. Finishing the first draft of your manuscript is an awesome accomplishment, but do not stop there. Revise it. Find a fellow writer to critique it. Revise it. Find another person to critique it. And revise again.

Q: Do you write as you go, or do you have the book all planned out from page one? 
A: I have found that creating a story “road map” (not a precisely plotted outline) works best for me. It gives me direction while writing, but it is more flexible than a detailed outline.

Q:  Are you worried your Google history will get you into trouble? 
A: Absolutely! I have googled some pretty sketchy topics … all in the name of book research, of course.

Q: Where is your favorite spot to write?
A: My favorite place to write is in my office next to my window, which looks out into my garden full of berries: raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries.

Q: How do you celebrate the completion of a book? 
A: With my favorite ice cream: Chocolate Haagen-Dazs

Q: What do you enjoy the most about writing? 
A: I love the challenge of translating the vision in my head to a story on paper that someone else then reads and envisions in their own mind.

Q: How do deal with writer’s block? 
A: The hardest part of writer’s block is pushing through it. That means first, I have to sit down and start. Sometimes I’ll set the timer for fifteen minutes and force myself to just write – even if it’s terrible and even if I delete it later – because sometimes the physical action of typing will get the creative energy flowing again.

Q: Anything you would've done differently if you could do it all over again? 
A: I would have read more books on the craft of writing before I began to query agents. Some of my favorite books on writing include:
SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder
THE STORY BOOK by David Baboulene

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