A friend of mine recently asked me to answer some writing-related questions for her class. Below is an abbreviated version – I hope you find it helpful!
1. What is your favorite part of the writing process?
My favorite part of the writing process is brainstorming ideas. It’s fun to think up new characters and worlds and then consider all the things that might happen to them.
2. What is your least favorite part of writing?
My least favorite part is making decisions. There are so many different ways I could write each story, and I want to write the best story possible. I sometimes wish I could write several versions of the same story so I wouldn’t have to choose!
3. What is your favorite piece you have written?
My favorite piece of writing that’s done is my short story, “The Price of Words.” I’m very excited and proud that it got published. My favorite piece in general is the book I’m revising. My goal is to have it done by the end of this year. Stay tuned!
4. What is it like to write on a regular basis?
It’s a lot of fun and a lot of work. I spend time each day brainstorming, researching (yes, even for fiction!), writing, and/or revising. Sometimes I’m in the mood to write and things come easily. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing or can’t think or what to write and it feels like a chore. It’s like anything else – playing an instrument, being on a sports team, creating art, etc. – you need to practice!
5. What do you prefer to write?
I enjoy writing many different things, but my favorite is fiction for children and young adults. I tend to write science fiction and dystopian stories. I like to think about the direction the world is headed when it comes to technology, civil rights, and the environment and consider how we can work together to make it a better place for all people and all living things.
6. How long does it take to get a book/piece published?
For a book, it depends on the publishing track you take. You could self-publish a book online in a short amount of time (once the book is written, I think it’s just a matter of clicks and it’s out there).
If you choose the traditional track (going through a publishing company), it usually takes two to three years. In addition to writing the book, you need to send it to agents (who will try to sell it to a publishing company for you), or you need to send it to publishers yourself (though many only accept manuscripts through agents). They then have you work with an editor to make your story even better. It takes time for them to market the book and get it ready for publication. This is the track I hope to take with the novel I’m revising.
A short story can take a few months to a year. It depends on where you submit it, how long it takes them to get back to you, and how long it takes for them to find an appropriate place for your story in one of their issues.
7. Do you ever get writer’s block?
All the time! I’m a perfectionist, so I sometimes worry my writing isn’t good enough. Sometimes I can’t think of anything to write. Sometimes I have too many ideas and am not sure which one would best move the story forward.
When I worry about not being good enough, I remind myself that many popular, published authors feel this way sometimes, too. I read something I’ve written that I’m proud of, and I remind myself that it’s better to have a piece that’s okay and finished than perfect and not done.
When I can’t think of what to write, I list all sorts of possibilities, no matter how bad I think they might be, and that usually helps. When I can’t decide between ideas, I take them a little bit further, brainstorming how each would work with the story and where they might take me. I then think about what would work best with my story and its theme, and I decide from there.
Reading writing resource books (books that teach you about writing) has helped. Sometimes it’s nice to just take a break or work on a different piece for a while, too.
8. What is the best advice you can give a new writer?
Figure out what works best for you when writing and stick with it. It took me a while to learn that I brainstorm and draft best when using paper/pencil instead of my laptop/tablet. I work best when I brainstorm first and when I make goals based on scenes.
It has also been helpful for me to write short stories. They’ve given me little breaks from my novel (which can feel overwhelming at times), helped me learn about writing stories from beginning to end, and allowed me to feel successful for completing them.
Good luck on your writing and whatever other aspirations you might have!