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!
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.