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Writing Conference, Ashland, Oregon

Q & A With Melissa Hart

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Melissa HartQ: What is your best writing tip?
A: Develop a habit of writing every day.  Carry around a spiral notebook and pen or a laptop and commit to at least ten minutes.  You can write a decent rough draft of a poem, a piece of flash fiction, or a paragraph of a novel or memoir or nonfiction article in ten minutes.  The goal is to make writing a habit–like flossing, only a lot more fun!

Q: Is writer’s block real? If so, how do you tackle/ circumvent it?

A: I don’t think writer’s block is real.  I think it’s possible to think you have no ideas, but a ten-minute freewrite on a major conflict you’re experiencing, or a significant joy, or a question that’s keeping you up at night, or your favorite funny family story, will get your ideas flowing.

Q: What’s your writing process?

A: I’ve structured my life so that when I get an idea for a piece, I can usually sit down and scribble out a rough draft that day.  I write the first draft longhand in a notebook, and then transcribe my chicken-scratch onto the computer.  I write multiple drafts, then have my husband read a polished version of a piece.  We discuss it in terms of his perceptions and editing notes, and then I revise again.  I read my work out loud several times during the process (sometimes to my cats) to check for pacing, flow, and believable dialogue.

Q: How do you make time to write?

A: It’s difficult when I’m teaching a lot and parenting a lot, and I must get exercise daily or I go bonkers.  But the time is there. Often, I’m lucky enough to be on deadline for a magazine essay or article, and that forces me to make time to write, even if it’s late in the evening or early in the morning.

Q: What are you working on next?

A: I’m in the editing stage of my first middle-grade novel, which Sky Pony Press will publish next year.  It’s called Avenging the Owl, about a California surfer-kid forced to move to Oregon and volunteer as a raptor rehabilitator after he accidentally injures a boy with Down syndrome while trying to kill a Great-horned owl that seizes his kitten.

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Author: jessicapage2

Jessica Page Morrell lives in Portland, Oregon where she is surrounded by writers and watches the sky all its moods and shades. She’s the author of Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us, A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing is Being Rejected; Bullies, Bastards & Bitches, How to Write the Bad Guys in Fiction; The Writer’s I Ching: Wisdom for the Creative Life, Voices from the Street; Between the Lines: Master The Subtle Elements Of Fiction Writing; and Writing Out the Storm. Morrell works as a highly-sought after developmental editor because if your characters are a bundle of quirks and inconsistencies, or the plot stalls and the scenes don’t flow, these problems need to be unriddled before you submit it to an agent or editor. She also works on memoirs and nonfiction books with a special focus on logic and voice. She began teaching writers in 1991 and now teaches through a series of workshops in the Northwest and at writing conferences throughout North America and lectures to various writing organizations. She is the former writing expert at iVillage.com which was voted as one of the best 101 sites for writers. In 2008 she founded Summer in Words, a yearly writing conference held on the Oregon coast. She hosts a Web site at www.writing-life.com, and she’s written a monthly column about topics related to writing since 1998 that currently appears in The Willamette Writer. She also contributes to The Writer and Writers Digest magazines, writes a monthly e-mail newsletter, The Writing Life, and a Web log at http://thewritinglifetoo.blogspot.com

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