Today, I’m excited to have Robin Reul stop by for a How I Write feature as part of her blog tour for MY KIND OF CRAZY! Check out my Q & A with Robin below, and be sure to enter the giveaway!
About Robin Reul
Are you a planner (outline, etc.) or do you “pants” it?
I am a total pantser. I usually have a general idea of the story’s beginning, middle and end, and maybe a couple of scenes, but for me, the story tends to emerge as I am writing it. However, I love to use Save The Cat in revisions because it really helps to see if I have hit all the key marks for pacing and content. Outlines feel very restrictive to me, and often, much like real-life teenagers, they have their own ideas of what they want to be doing instead.
Do you write daily or sporadically when you’re inspired?
I try and write during the week while my daughter is at school. Some days admittedly the words flow more than others or I get distracted. (cough, Facebook) But it’s always the goal. Sometimes, if the words don’t come for one project I will work on another. If I can end the day with new words on a page that weren’t there the day prior, whether that be three or three thousand, it’s a win.
What inspired you to want to become a writer?
I have always been an avid reader ever since I was a child and books truly saved me. I spent my childhood growing up on movie sets, travelling with my father, who was a film producer. Unless there were kids in the film or crew members brought their families, which wasn’t always the case, I was mostly in the company of adults. I could escape and get lost in the pages of kids whose lives were so different from mine, or were dealing with issues that felt relevant to me. They became friends, companions, windows into the lives of other people my age that let me know I was not alone. I knew I wanted to write stories like that myself one day. There are many ways to express one’s unique soul, but for me, writing is it. To get to wake up and create worlds and characters that live and breathe and get lost in them during the creation process, let alone have readers respond to them, is pretty much the most amazing feeling there is.
What time of day do you find you write best? Or you enjoy more?
I love writing in the morning, the earlier the better. I love a quiet, still house and a fresh pot of coffee at the ready.
Do you have any writing quirks?
I absolutely HAVE to write on a computer, preferably a desktop. I can’t write longhand except maybe to jot down notes or points or snippets of dialogue that may come into my head. I prefer total silence vs. writing to music. I have trouble writing if there is anyone else in the house, even if they are super quiet – I just know they are there.
Where is your favorite place to write?
My desk is in what used to be my dining room. I love this space because it gets the most light of anywhere in the house and faces three big windows that look out onto the street. I used to literally use the dining room table, but one Christmas morning I woke up and my family had somehow managed to remove the table and chairs and replace it with a gorgeous oak mission desk and made this my dedicated writing space. I still have no idea how they pulled that off without my knowing!
What tool(s) do you use to write? Microsoft Word, Pages, Scrivener, typewriter, pen and paper, and/or napkins/toilet paper?
I use an iMac and Microsoft Word, but I do keep an ideas journal that I write by hand. I often write notes on my phone too in Notes (aptly named, right?) in case I have a thought about something out in the world and find myself journal-free.
How do you stay motivated?
Some days it can be tough! Publishing is HARD! Honestly? From taking to my other writer friends. They inspire me with their stories , encouragement and support. The YA community is very welcoming, and I have been fortunate to make some really wonderful friends who know exactly how to push me because they’ve been there themselves. I also think about my kids and how I’ve tried to model for them that if you work hard at your dreams you can make them happen. Any time I feel like I want to quit, thinking about the message I am sending them can often be enough to get me right back in the ring.
What resources do you recommend for new writers?
For me, joining SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) was a life-changing move. Every year I attend their annual conference and it has allowed me to meet so many incredible writers, agents and editors in such a fabulous, supportive setting. Being amongst “your people” is very inspirational, learning about craft and the realities of the publishing world. I would recommend attending workshops whenever you can, and perhaps joining a writer’s group where you can meet , critique and discuss each others’ work. Feedback is such an important part of the revision process.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received for writing?
I once took a writing workshop from fellow YA author Jessica Brody in which she talked about always having a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter, and I think this is such great advice. The goal is that by ending the chapter that way, the reader will not want to put the book down because they are dying to see what happens next. I find this a really helpful tool, and I know my chapter isn’t polished enough until I’ve found that little something something close it out with and entice the reader to continue on.
What aspect of writing is most challenging for you? Easiest?
I love writing dialogue. Dialogue is totally my jam. And characterization. My stories usually start out for me with the characters and then I have to work to find the story that they belong to. My stories tend to be quieter and character-driven, rather than big hook ideas. Description is harder for me to write by a long shot. There are only so many ways to say “she looked” or describe what someone looks like.
Thank you for visiting, Robin! Readers, follow the tour for more chances to win, and be sure to enter the giveaway! You can find more How I Write features by clicking the image at the bottom of this post.