FAQs from Writers

Where do you get your ideas? How do you deal with writer's block?

Where do you get your inspiration and ideas?

It might seem counter-intuitive, but if I read another author's work that I really love (beautifully crafted sentences, a mind-blowing plot, emotionally engaging characters), I can draw a lot of inspiration from that. Sometimes a book is so good that it just makes me want to throw in the towel--but more often than not I use it as motivation. The bar is set and it gives me something to hope and reach for.



When I'm writing a scene or starting to envision a new project, I love to find a photograph or a series of images that capture a moment or mood. Secret Pinterest boards are such a great resource for that. It can also be helpful to switch up where I'm writing day-to-day, whether it's a different coffee shop or even just a different room of the house. The two places that consistently inspire me the most are actually polar opposites of one another: the insane rush and energy of New York City, and this gorgeous, still cabin on a lake in the woods of northern Wisconsin.

But most days, inspiration just looks like opening my computer next to a deep mug of hot coffee... and a really good pastry.

How do you deal with writer's block?

Ever since I've become a mom with two young kids at home, writing has almost become my escape time. But if I'm really struggling on a particular day, my go-to strategies are: 

  • changing locations
  • finding a photograph that captures the look/emotion/character/feel I'm trying to describe
  • finding a song that captures the look/emotion/character/feel I'm trying to describe

Things that I've found create writer's block:

If the writing is just really not happening on a certain day, then I'll put my computer away and come back to it fresh the next. Often the best thing to do then is turn to someone else's book--particularly one with really good dialogue or beautiful language. If I'm lucky, reading the effortless flow of their words can sometimes jumpstart my own!

What's the best thing about being a writer?

It is actually impossible to be bored. I'm always thinking about my characters or working out a knot in a story and I can do it WHEREVER I WANT. While I'm doing the dishes. Waiting in line at the DMV. In the shower. Most of my best plotting breakthroughs for THE DISAPPEARANCES actually happened while I was commuting long hours on the Mass Pike. 

Also, this sounds kind of terrible, but when someone tells me I wrote something that made them cry--especially in a scene that isn't necessarily trying to be sad! Writing can be such a personal thing, and reading is really an intimate thing as well, to allow someone else's voice into your mind for a little while. So when I am able to connect with someone and make them feel what I feel without even speaking (even, perhaps, without knowing each other), it's really incredible. It's an honor, and it's one of the best feelings in the world.



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