Today we have Jennifer E. Smith joining us to answer a few questions about her writing experience and her writing process. Let’s see what she has to say!
What is your brainstorming process for a new book?
It’s a lot less organized than you might think. I wish I could say I was one of those writers who sat down and outlined the entire book before starting, but I’m most certainly not. My computer is chock-full of half-baked ideas, first sentences, opening paragraphs, and miscellaneous chapters. It’s a mystery to me why some of them work and others simply don’t. But I will say that most of them are the result of a random spark of an idea, rather than a deliberate brainstorming session. Which makes writing a sort of hit-or-miss endeavor for me…but it also makes it interesting!
Can you explain your typical work week day?
Since I have a day job, my writing time is a little bit scattered. I so admire those writers who wake up at 5am and write for three hours like clockwork, but unfortunately, I’m not one of them. Far from it! I don’t have any sort of set schedule, but I get most of my writing done on the weekends. Because I’m also an editor, I spend so much time and energy on other people’s books during the week, that when I get home from work (usually with a pile of manuscripts in tow!), the last thing I feel like doing is my own writing. So I usually try to get a few hours in every weekend. It’s not ideal, and it’s not enough – but is anything ever enough when it comes to writing?
Tell us about when you made the decision to write.
For better or worse, I don’t think writing is really a decision – it’s more of a compulsion. If you had the choice, would you really choose to join the ranks of so many neurotic, sleepless, underpaid and over-invested people? Would you really resign yourself to all the heartbreak and rejection, the raised hopes and small successes? The waking up in the middle of the night with an idea for a new chapter? Would you really want to be one of those people who think in dialogue tags? A daydreamer, a word junkie, a hopeless optimist? I mean, if it were really a decision, and I had to do it all to do over again, would I have still wanted to become a writer? The answer, of course, is yes. Despite all of the above. Or perhaps because of it. But either way, yes. In a heartbeat.
What suggestions do you have for aspiring writers?
Read! Read! Read! The way you learn to be a writer is through reading books that speak to you in some way. It’s how you learn the rhythms of dialogue and the nuances of character. It’s how you figure out, almost subconsciously, the way to structure a book, and it’s how you discover the subtle tricks involved in building an entire world from scratch. I know it sounds almost too easy. That you could learn to be a writer simply by reading. But have you ever met an author who didn’t grow up begging their parents for another fifteen minutes to finish a chapter before bedtime?
Tell us about what you’re working on right now and what we can expect from you in the near future.
I’m working on a few different things right now, though I’m sorry to say that none of them are terribly far along. But I’ll be sure to let you know what’s coming up next as soon as I know!
Thank you for joining us and answering a few questions, Jennifer!
Jennifer E. Smith grew up outside of Chicago and graduated from Colgate University. She earned her master’s in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and currently lives in New York City, where she roots for the Cubs from afar. The Comeback Season was her first novel. Her second novel, You Are Here was released yesterday and is available in your local bookstore.