First, let me remind you of a couple of posts regarding Jamie Ford (not that I'm a creeper or anything). I wrote about the writing lessons I learned from Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet here. I also wrote about how Jamie Ford inspired me as an author.
Jamie Ford is a super nice guy, and was kind enough to answer some questions of interest to writers. Enjoy!
Julie: Jamie, what is the best piece of writing advice you ever received? Why did it resonate with you?
Jamie Ford: A friend once told me, “Writer’s block is your subconscious telling you that what you’re working on actually sucks.”
I’ve found that to be painfully, painfully true. When I get writer’s block, it’s usually because deep down I know I’ve strayed from where the story needs to go. When that happens, I back up, revisit the taproot of the story, and find another path.
(Great advice. And he’s still a friend!)
Julie: Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? Plot first? Character development first? Research first?
Jamie Ford: Hmmm…I wish I had some Hunter S. Thompson-esque writing process to share—you know, wake up in a jail cell, get bailed out by a showgirl, go sit at the racetrack where I bet and drink all day while banging away at a manual Olympia, using my loaded .38 Special as a paperweight.
But, the reality isn’t quite so sexy. Typically I start with a very simple premise, I figure out my beginning and my ending (the ending us uber-important), I do a ton of research, and then I write, usually from 8:00 AM – Noon. I edit late in the day. That’s about it. Once in a while I’ll grab a triple latte and go buck-wild by writing at the public library.
Julie: Your novels grab the heart and won't let go. How do you create characters and stories that pull readers in and make them care?
Jamie Ford: This is when it’s beneficial to be a sentimentalist, because it takes one to know one, to understand one, and to tell those kinds of stories. Great if you’re a writer penning complicated, emotional, familial stories. Not so great if you’re a brooding, whining, angst-ridden teenager. The running joke in my family is that if I formed a heavy metal band in my youth it would have been called Melancholica. I guess I just grew into my emotions and put them to purposeful use in fiction.
Melancholica! I love that. Big thanks to Jamie Ford for visiting my blog and sharing his wit and wisdom with us.
Friends, what do you think about Mr. Ford's reference to writer's block? His writing process? And creating characters and stories that grab a reader's heart?
His novels are amazing. Wanna pick up copies? Clicky clicky below.
That's an interesting way to view writer's block. She's probably right!ReplyDelete
Alex, I know, right? It's a great reminder to review what we're working on when we get stuck.Delete
"I’ve strayed from where the story needs to go. When that happens, I back up, revisit the taproot of the story, and find another path."ReplyDelete
That's exactly it! It's like there's all these paths in the woods but only a few lead to the way out while the rest lead nowhere. Great interview, Julie and very cool that Jamie Ford came to visit you :)
Marcy, it was so cool to connect with him. What a great guy (and he happens to write amazing books).Delete
I adored Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. The writing advice from his friend is great and I've found it to be true myself. Thanks for the great interview!ReplyDelete
Sherrie...so exciting to hear from a fellow fan of HOTEL. Gosh I loved that book.Delete
So awesome you have Jamie here, Julie! Thanks so much.ReplyDelete
I've often wondered about writer's block being a way to tell me I'm heading in the wrong direction. So, intriguing you mentioned it, Jamie. You've really given me something to think about. Maybe I should listen to myself more. WB must be connected to the gut.
Sheri, funny how the gut is constantly trying to tell us something. Like, when we're unsure about something in a story and the critique partners call us out on it? Yep, been there.Delete
You know, after thinking about the times when I've really gotten stuck with a manuscript, I agree with Mr. Ford. And the timing of his writing process (write 8-12, edit in the afternoon) is what I hope to work up to someday once the kiddies are in school :) Thanks to both of you for a great interview!ReplyDelete
Jessica, writing moms who get it done with little ones at home are rocks stars. I didn't start writing seriously until my three were in school. I'm amazed that you do what you do!Delete
Julie, I think it's great you got to interview someone you admire. Nice to meet Jamie and see what his process is. For me, a writing block can mean I have to figure out where the story is going next. Usually means a day or 2, and it's more likely to happen when I'm writing fantasy. Sometimes it means I'm demoralized about a rejection or I have too much on my plate, so I get burned out.ReplyDelete
Theresa, rejections can definitely put the brakes on creativity. I've never written fantasy, and can only imagine what goes into those novels.Delete
I loved this book-- am glad to read insights from Mr. Ford's writing process. I can relate to the emotional aspect mentioned in the last question (maybe why I loved "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" so much). I think this also describes how I choose to write what I do. Thanks for the share, Julie.ReplyDelete
Julie, it's funny you mention the emotional aspect. I love emotional stories like those written by Nicholas Sparks. Other readers don't like that! But that type of emotion bleeds into my own fiction as well.Delete
Awesome. I totally feel the same way about writers block, but for me it tends to be that, plus a deadline. "This sucks, but it has to be done by Tuesday! Eek! What am I going to do?"ReplyDelete
Goodness, I would LOVE to be able to devote 6 to 8 hours to just writing/editing a day.
Deadlines would be totally foreign to me! I'd imagine it's tough to be creative with a ticking clock.Delete
I was in a pretend band in college. I'll refrain from giving the name... I think block is about not knowing what to do with a story. Only writing gets me out of that trap. Maybe I'll have to throw it out, but it helps me figure it all out.ReplyDelete
I know how you feel! When I'm stuck I'll do the same thing...think about it for a little while then write through it.Delete
Now I'm curious about the name of your pretend band :)
I have the same experience with writer's block.ReplyDelete
Traci, I experience it most during the first draft. The "what happens here?" feeling.Delete
Jamie's spot on w/his definition of writer's block- at least in my experience anyway! And it's so cool that he stopped by. You've hosted a NYTer, lol! ;)ReplyDelete
Leandra, I know! It was so nice of him to answer questions. Such a good guy.Delete
I just finished Songs of Willow Frost (and cried). And I cried during Hotel on the Corner as well. Jamie's now one of my favorite authors. I like what he said about writer's block. I was feeling a scene dragging yesterday and something was nagging at me and I couldn't get through it. I read it over and realized that the scene wasn't actually necessary. Awesome interview!ReplyDelete
Michelle, isn't it amazing when books cause us to cry? I love it when that happens, and I'm jealous of the author who got me to care so much.Delete
I'm so glad you figured out what was wrong yesterday!
Julie, I love this about writer's block. And I'm so excited I never had it. Which... if she correct, I'm happy! Lol. A fabulous lady and a great interview. Thank you!!ReplyDelete
I think he hit it just right. Writer's Block is your way of not putting something down on paper when you think it will stink. My head screams, "I don't want someone to read that! "ReplyDelete
The interview was very well done. Thanks to both of you.
Holy celebrity on the blog!!!! Love. Love. Love. I enjoyed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet very much. Mr. Fort is very talented. And I loved his answers. So real--and true. I definitely agree with the writer's block idea. I've found the same to be true with me.ReplyDelete
Seriously SUCH a cool interview, Julie!!!
Great interview. I so glad I dropped by to glean this bit of treasure. :-)ReplyDelete
Anna from Shout with Emaginette