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Writing Conference, Ashland, Oregon


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Q & A With Melissa Hart

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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