Q: What is your best writing tip?
A: My best writing tip is to Write Every Day — and by that I don’t necessarily mean sitting at the computer typing but being in that writerly zone in which you use every possible moment to think about your project. While in line at the post office, for example, think about your characters, think about a letter she might write, think about a time he got someone else’s mail. There are so many moments in which we’re not able to write, but we can still be thinking like writers.
Q: Is writer’s block real? If so, how do you tackle/circumvent it?
I think it’s real for some writers, and probably nonexistent for others. When I find myself getting stuck on a piece, I try a couple of strategies. One, I’ll simply switch to something else; as a short-story writer, I usually have several short stories in progress. If I want to stick with a particular piece but am not getting where I need to go with it, I’ll take a break and do something related to the project: research, freewriting — or I’ll simply take a walk and think about it away from the desk, which always helps.
Q: What’s your writing process?
A: It changes every day — I have no typical process because for me there’s no such thing as a typical day (which generally I think is a good thing!). For a while last winter, I got up before dawn to write; lately I’ve been writing in the afternoons at the library. It all just depends on when I can fit it into my schedule. One thing I’ve enjoyed a lot is getting away from my desk and writing in a notebook — being off the computer helps me get into a more creative mood.
Q: How do you make time to write?
It’s my biggest challenge! I make sure to take some time off every year to get away (out of town) to write — this is the best way to reconnect with my writing. I’ll also try to re-create this writing time at home, in my everyday life — a couple hours here, a Saturday there — whenever I can.
A: What are you working on next?
Right now I’m working on about six new short stories … all in various stages of development.