Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Think before you write…"

by Susan Orlean

How did you become a writer? I began writing -- that is, telling stories in written form -- when I was a kid, and never stopped. I began publishing when I got out of college, having lucked into a writing job at a small magazine in Portland, Oregon. Then I learned on the job.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.) My high school English teacher, John Heaps, made me believe I could write, and made me love reading and writing even more than I already did. Reading great fiction (Faulkner, Hemingway, Joyce) and great non-fiction (Wolfe, Didion, McPhee) made me dream of what writing at its best could be. My editors -- too many to name here -- have been great teachers, too, and I've learned something from all of them.
When and where do you write? I write whenever I have a deadline looming, but my best time is mid- to late afternoon. I write wherever I need to be, but my favorite writing place is a little studio I built for myself about two hundred yards from my house. It's private and quiet and cozy and there are not that many distractions.
What are you working on now? I'm in the stage that's the most invisible to the observer: I'm thinking of new ideas. So I'm not writing or researching, but I'm percolating. I want to fall in love with a few story ideas and perhaps a new book idea.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? I've been stuck, of course, but never experienced what would be called "writer's block." I have found myself confused about what I'm trying to say, and I've found myself tongue-tied because I don't really know my subject well enough yet, but I've never felt phobic or "blocked" when it came to actually writing.
What’s your advice to new writers? Write as much as you can; read as much as you can. Think before you write. Feel passionate about your subject or about the process of writing. Work hard. Have fun.

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