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How do you get your ideas?

I’m a dreamy person…a movie of another world plays in my head through much of my day. Fragments of daily life – a red leaf, a strong cup of coffee, a face on the subway – will trigger memories, daydreams, and “what if” questions. Most of these fleeting thoughts are ephemeral, like soap bubbles, and they float away, no harm done. But once in a while, a big fish will swim up and swallow me whole. Then I’m in trouble! I have to write that story or it won’t leave me alone. And if I don’t get it right the first time, it comes back to make sure I finish the job to its satisfaction.

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What is your writing process like?

Like Jo March in Little Women, I write in furious bursts and get sucked into the writers’ vortex. I write at all hours, and deadlines drive my writing the best. If I know I must get a piece written by a certain date, it works more than any writer’s ritual or mantra.

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What does your writing space look like? Do you write in absolute quiet or with background noise?

Chaos is my muse. If I waited until I had a serene place and time to write, I’d still be waiting! My current office is a combination of my dining room table and the squishy sofa in the living room.

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I want to be a writer. What should I do?

First of all, welcome to the tribe. A writer writes … if you have attempted to write, you are a writer, and the only difference between you and a published author are a few million words of writing.

The first thing you need to do in my opinion is read, a LOT. Read anything you can get your hands on, read what entertains you, read what feeds your soul. Don’t worry if it’s what you “should” be reading. In fact, Stephen King is right … you need to stop worrying about what you should be doing altogether.

Write as much as you can. Write to entertain yourself, write for the jugular, write as if your life depended on it. But don’t flog yourself if you can’t write every single day … it is a noble goal to aspire to, but I’ve never managed it, and I am still a writer. Do your best, and again, say it with me, forget what you “should” do.

Find fellow travelers on the writer’s road, if at all possible. Yes, you will have to do the writing yourself, and in the end, you will have to find your own way in your writing practice. But it sure helps to walk the road with others. Don’t waste your time and spirit comparing your journey to those around you … no writer’s way is the same. But it is good to have friends, to learn about the business and the pitfalls along the way that might trap the unwary.

Finally, have fun. If you seek publication, it can be rough whether you publish yourself or seek a traditional publisher for your work. Remember why you write in the first place, and never let go of your enjoyment of it. Writing is the most amazing in the world … don’t forget to celebrate your gift!

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Resources for Writers

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