I’m thrilled to have Gayle Forman here today for a “How I Write” feature! I loved If I Stay and Where She Went; they were fantastic on audiobook. Many thanks to Gayle for stopping by, and for offering signed copies of her books for a giveaway!

About the author: 

Gayle Forman ( is an award-winning, international bestselling author and journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous publications. She is the author of the forthcoming duet of novels, Just One Day and Just One Year, as well as the  New York Times bestsellers If I Stay and Where She Went.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Are you a planner (outline, etc.) or pantser?
I used to be a pantser, but for JUST ONE DAY and JUST ONE YEAR I had to be a bit more of a planner because the books are so structurally complex that they required a lot of architectural underpinnings in certain parts that had to be mapped out. I kind of hated that part and that was the area where the writing felt laborious until I was deep in revisions. My favorite part of writing is the not knowing where you’re going and then having it revealed to you by the act of writing.

Do you write daily or sporadically when you’re inspired?
If I’m drafting or revising, I’m writing every day. I’m very disciplined that way (I used to be a freelance journalist, so I had to be). If I’m not in the drafting or revising stage, I may have fallow periods where I’m not working on any kind of fiction. I still need to write something (blog posts, etc.) but I am not one of those writers who will put down one book and start up another. I don’t work that way. I wish I did!

What kind of mood are you typically in when you write (happy, sad, etc.)?
I suppose this depends on what I’m writing. I just got back from a writing retreat with my friend who told me I was very expressive while I was writing. Apparently I was making these little “pff” noises and waving my hands. Which would mean one of my characters was probably doing the same. I’m generally pretty focussed on the emotions of the work.

Where is your favorite place to write?
Now that it’s turning cold, I seem to like writing in bed, which is not good for my back. Mostly I write at my desk in my (teeny-tiny) office. Sometimes I’ll write at a cafe with some of my local YA buddies.

How do you stay motivated?
The story keeps me motivated. When it’s working, it becomes its own gravitational force, pulling me to it every day. And when it’s not working, I just keep coming back to it, working on it, stepping back, figuring out why.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received for writing?
Hard writing makes easy reading. A journalism professor told me that. IF I STAY was one of those magical books that came out easily, and it was my first book that was successful so, when the subsequent books (WHERE SHE WENT and JUST ONE DAY) were total labors to write, I assumed it meant it was because they were total crap. That may be the case, but some books you just have to chip, chip, chip away at, work super hard in the hopes that the reading is effortless.

Books by Gayle Forman

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42 Responses to Gayle Forman: How I Write & Giveaway

  1. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    “My favorite part of writing is the not knowing where you’re going and then having it revealed to you by the act of writing.” — I love that!

  2. Kayla W says:

    I’ve discovered I’m pretty expressive when I write too. I’ve started writing in Starbucks a lot, and I’ve noticed myself mouthing the dialogue as I write it. Facial expressions too. Silently acting out scenes in public – definitely something I should try not to do! 🙂

  3. Leigh Smith says:

    First of all, Gayle Forman is a goddess and I love reading these types of interviews. “Hard writing makes easy reading.” I hope that’s true because I’m doing NaNoWriMo and I’m just having a much, much harder time with my book this year. Last year it flew from my fingers but afterwards, I knew it was nothing special enough to try to pub. Maybe all this “hard writing” will pay off.

  4. I love that Gayle says that writing is hard. I think many of us assume that great books just happen.
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Michelle Greer says:

    I have also found out that I’m very expressive when I write. Apparantly, the eyebrow raises gave me away. I enjoyed this interview and love Gayle Forman. I can’t wait to read the next two books!

  6. I can’t imagine writing in bed! It’s bad enough trying to get comfortable to read in bed. I’ve dropped many books on my head that way.
    Thanks for hosting the giveaway. I’ve never read any of her books, but I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things!
    Megan @ Love, Literature, Art, and Reason recently posted..Review–Prophecy Girl by Faith McKayMy Profile

  7. rhonda says:

    Great interview. Write wherever I can sometimes its torture.thanks for giveaway would. Love to read the books.

  8. Amanda says:

    Awesome giveaway! Good luck everyone 🙂

  9. fakesteph
    Twitter: fakesteph

    I prefer working in bed, too. And I LOVE the story about making hand gestures while writing. 🙂
    fakesteph recently posted..Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David LevithanMy Profile

  10. JenP says:

    I think I get expressive sometimes, too.

  11. Great interview. Thanks so much. I find it particularly reassuring to hear her say that writing is sometimes hard. And I love the “Hard writing makes for easy reading” quote.
    Ruth Schiffmann recently posted..Savoring the SilenceMy Profile

  12. Sarena says:

    Great interview! It just gave me motivation for NaNoWriMo!

  13. elena says:

    Hard writing makes easy reading is so true! I love that and it’s really interesting to hear all these writing processes. I can definitely tell she’s focused on emotions because she brings them out so well in her books!
    elena recently posted..sound bite: the art of reviewingMy Profile

  14. Monica says:

    I love gayle’s answers! Her books are so amazing!

  15. I really love these answers! It’s so intriguing to read about how different authors write, especially since I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year and getting to know my writing process. I don’t have the discipline to write every day like Gayle does, but that’s something I’m hoping to do. And I totally agree about motivation, once you dive into a story enough, then that in of itself is the thing that pushes you along. It’s a wonderful experience when that happens!

    Thanks for sharing this awesome interview! <3

  16. Katlyn says:

    I love your books, Gayle! Thanks for the awesome Q&A! 😀

  17. Michelle Sedeño
    Twitter: michellesedeno

    I read and loved If I Stay and Where She Went–since then, I’m a fan of GF. I have only borrowed those books, though,so it’s be really awesome if I win!
    Also, I can’t wait for Just One Day–I featured it as my WoW pick a few weeks ago. 🙂
    Michelle Sedeño recently posted..Book Review: Colonization by Aubrie DionneMy Profile

  18. Amanda Tse says:

    Gale Forman is one of my favourite authors ever! If I Stay was spellbinding and I can not wait till Just One Year is released!

  19. Chrissy says:

    Great interview! I wish I had the discipline to sit down and write every day. Maybe that will be my New Year’s resolution….and I will definitely keep in mind that “Hard writing makes easy reading”!
    Chrissy recently posted..GIVEAWAY!! Spotlight: Defining Moments by Faye Hicks with an interviewMy Profile

  20. I only recently read her books and I absolutely loved them! It made me laugh and cry and it was just a very touching story. I loved how Mia and Adam’s relationship wasn’t a fling to either of them, and they both suffered through it.
    Leanne Yang @ Escaping With Books recently posted..Sunday Update: Homework…My Profile

  21. Emz says:

    Thanks for the awesome giveaway! I love Gayle Forman and If I Stay, 🙂
    Emz recently posted..In My Mailbox (12/2)My Profile

  22. Julie S. says:

    Great interview. I also like to write in bed!

  23. Monica
    Twitter: mfumarolo

    What a fantastic premise and giveaway opportunity! If I Stay and Where She Went both blew me away, and I cannot wait to read this story as well =)
    Monica recently posted..Water and Wishes: The SpringsweetMy Profile

  24. Allison says:

    Gayle Forman is amazing!! These tips will really come in handy next NaNoWriMo <3

  25. seb says:

    “My favorite part of writing is the not knowing where you’re going and then having it revealed to you by the act of writing.” – Yes, that is exactly right for me. I love it when the ending is a complete surprise. ALTHOUGH these days I’m sort of unable to do anything without an outline first. Ugh.

  26. Kimsa says:

    I first read If I Stay over the summer because my internet was down and I needed something to do. GAYLE. YOU RESTORED MY LOVE OF READING. THANK YOU!!!
    Kimsa recently posted..PhotoMy Profile

  27. Ileana A. says:

    First of all, OMGGGGGGGGG! I just realize there’s a new book!! OMG! OMG! Adding Just one Day to my TBR pile! Gayle Forman is one of my favorite authors, amazing!

  28. Sophia says:

    I LOVE Gayle Forman’s books! I am utterly in love with the If I Stay/Where She Went series, and am so so SO excited for Just One Day.
    Sophia recently posted..The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle HodkinMy Profile

  29. SKB says:

    One of my favorite authors! I have never heard the term “pantser” before, but I enjoy it. I approach most life in a pantser way.

  30. Andrea Payan (@payanar) says:

    I absolutely loved If I Stay and am loving that my 8th grade students are devouring it too. I loved the insights into your writing style!

  31. Jolene A says:

    I have this books at the top of my wishlist. These sound amazing and I love everything I’ve heard about them! Thanks for the chance to win

  32. I LOVE Gayle’s If I Stay. So interesting that she is expressive when she is writing. Must be why her characters are so believable. Thanks for such a great interview and giveaway. One of my favorite authors!
    Kissed by Ink recently posted..Cover Reveal: The Summer I Became a NerdMy Profile

  33. Ariadne says:

    Ah! This post was so perfect in so many ways.:D Thanks!

  34. Chachic says:

    “Hard writing makes easy reading.” -> Love this part! It was very easy to get into both If I Stay and Where She Went. I have a feeling Just One Day will be like that as well.
    Chachic recently posted..Book Haul: Times Book SaleMy Profile

  35. I have read If I Stay and Where She Went and recently, Just One Day. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved them, especially Just One Day. Trust me when I say (in response to Forman’s answer to the last question) neither book is crap:) I personally connected with Allyson and Willem’s (Just One Day) story in so many ways. It’s a book everyone should experience.

    Love how she is so expressive when writing and love what she had to say about her motivation to keep writing:)

    I’m not entering the contest, I already own both books in the giveaway, but I love this interview and this author so much I had to swing by:)

  36. emily hung says:

    Gayle Forman’s If I Stay series is so down to earth, you’re writing is amazing and i usually prefer Paranormal Young Adult but i couldn’t put these two books down! x

  37. Thank you for the wonderful interview with a phenomenal writer, Gayle Forman! It is fascinating reading about the ways in which successful writers practice their craft.
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted..Feature & Follow #4My Profile

  38. Angel Perido says:

    If I Stay and Where She Went are definitely in the list of my favorite books. And these books are not only there, they are UP there, UP THERE, AT THE TOP OF THE LIST. Saying that those two book are my favorite isn’t enough to justify my feelings towards the two books. I cried, I laugh, I had my heart broken in the course of reading the story of Mia and Adam. It doesn’t usually happen to me for I am not very emotional. But these books have managed to bring out all the emotions human beings could feel. It feels great. I don’t have my own copy of these books. I only borrowed them. I’m glad that I didn’t ruin those books, actually. My tears almost fell to the pages. This comment isn’t even halfway complete in all the things I want to say. I haven’t read her recent book but I am expecting it’ll be as good as the other two. I know it will be.
    Angel Perido recently posted..“HOW WILL I EVER GET OUT OF THIS LABYRINTH OF SUFFERING?”My Profile

  39. Erika says:

    I haven’t read any of Gayle’s books yet but would love to. It is always interesting to hear a behind the scenes viewpoint from authors. I used to also write in bed. Just a comfort thing. Thanks for the chance to win!

  40. Sarah Handrich says:

    Thank you for the great giveaway!

  41. I’m currently wishing we could record Ms. Foreman while she writes so we could have an example of her expressions!
    Shelver506 @ Bookshelvers Anonymous recently posted..Cover Love #18My Profile

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