Today we have author Sarah Darer Littman joining us to answer questions about her writing process. Thank you for joining me today for my Wednesday Writer’s Write series! Lets get started…
What is your brainstorming process for a new book?
It’s been a different process for each book. The one thing they all have in common is that I’ve got a character and a very rough idea of a problem or a situation. In some cases, it’s been a matter of brain dumping ideas onto paper combined with research. I’ve found that sometimes it’s through the research that I get more interesting ideas for the plot. In other cases it’s the plot has been more fully derived from characters themselves, and I’ve done research as I’ve gone along in the writing rather than at the beginning.
It’s extremely irritating for my kids when I’m in the brainstorming stage because I’ll start staring off into space while they’re waiting for me to pass the potatoes as a new idea wafts into my brain.
Can you explain your typical work week day?
After I either get the kids to school or drive the car pool, depending on the day, I try to go the gym for an hour at least three days a week. I find exercising early before I write helps me concentrate better. Plus it makes me feel less guilty for any chocolate I consume later in the day, when I’m stuck on my writing. I come home, shower, and then head down to my Writing Lair in the basement, where I will work (with breaks for letting out the dog, wasting time on Facebook and blogs etc) until my kids come home at 3 and all the after school chauffeuring commences.
Tell us about when you made the decision to write.
I wanted to be a writer when I was in high school, but when I was going to college, my parents asked me how I planned to make a living with an English major. In my house it was all about making money. I ended up with two degrees in things that I’m not particularly interested in (including, believe it or not, an MBA in Finance) and it wasn’t until I was approaching forty and having what I suppose was my mid-life crisis that I decided I didn’t want to be in my nursing house some day thinking “What would have happened if?…” I decided I’d lived enough of my life doing what everyone else wanted me to do, and I had to give myself the opportunity to at least TRY writing, even if I failed. I was thirty eight at the time, and I promised myself a book contract as my 40th birthday present. I got the offer for my first book, CONFESSIONS OF A CLOSET CATHOLIC two months after my 40th birthday.
What suggestions do you have for aspiring writers?
Read a lot. The best writers I know are prolific readers. Revise, revise, revise. But above all, get your butt in the chair and WRITE. The more you write, the better you’ll write.
Take courses and workshops. Listen to constructive criticism. We’ve all had to cut lines that we love. Sometimes it’s necessary for the greater good of the story.
If you are writing for children, join the SCBWI.
Tell us about what you’re working on right now and what we can expect from you in the near future.
I’m in the brainstorming stages (*stares off into space*) so I’m not ready to talk about what I’m working on right now, but my third book will be coming out from Scholastic Press next spring. It’s about love and friendship post-9/11. It’s tentatively titled LIFE, AFTER, but that’s not final yet.
Thank you for joining us, Sarah! We look forward to your future books!
Sarah Darer Littman, writer, mother, and unpaid chauffeur, is a living example of the cliche, “Life Begins at 40.” After spending much of her adult life doing things she didn’t really plan to, including such diverse occupations as financial analyst and farmer’s wife, she at long last found her true calling as a writer. She indulges her adult voice as a columnist for the Stamford Advocate/Greenwich Time newspapers. Sarah lives in Cos Cob, CT with her two children and an adorable Havanese puppy named Benny. You check check out happenings with Sarah at her website.