Hey all! Sorry for being MIA on this blog for so long–between revisions and the crazy that is junior year everything (if you want to find me, I’ll just be hyperventilating under a stack of AP prep books).
BUT! I’m absolutely thrilled to be hosting a part of the Ch1Con Blog tour for the day. Some things about Ch1Con: it’s this awesome writing conference for teens and young adults (ages 12-23) that takes place in the Chicago suburbs every year. This year it’ll take place in St. Charles, IL, on August 6th, 2016. Come for a cozy, tight-knit writing community and a day of informational sessions taught by both bestselling authors and young, up-and-coming novelists alike (this year we’re hosting the incredible NYT bestselling Susan Dennard, who wrote the SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY series and TRUTHWITCH, Francesca Zappia, author of MADE YOU UP, Jennifer Yu, author of FOUR WEEKS, FIVE PEOPLE, and Jordan Villegas, an incredible novelist who’s represented by Emily Keyes of Fuse Literary). Also, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded writer peers your own age and meet our bookish, Panera-loving team (including yours truly.) More info about it here
Today I’ll be interviewing the wonderful Kira Brighton, the Master of Marketing at Ch1Con. Y’all, Kira has the lowdown on all things marketing, from organizing the annual Ch1Con blog tour, to co-running the Ch1Con Twitter and Facebook accounts. Kira is a senior at BYU-Idaho, studying English with an emphasis in Literary Studies, and a novelist, primarily of YA fiction. Besides working for the Ch1Con team, she participates in a few other writing communities, including NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which she has won five times. She has written nineteen novels so far, won various titles in the annual Write It! Awards, including “Best Writer”, and has published short fiction and poetry in many small compilations, such as through Creative Communications, Greensprings, Pegasus, and more. She was a speaker for Ch1Con in 2012 and 2014 and has been part of the team from its inception. In her spare time, Kira plays cello, squees at cats, and obsesses over the BBC. She’s also prone to social justice rants and fangirling about Harry Potter and the Hunger Games.
Now, onto the interview! Today I’ll be talking about making writing a habit, where Kira has graciously agreed to address questions about ritual, organization, balance, and perseverance.
1. What are your tips for balancing a busy school schedule with writing?
If it works all right for you, take a notebook everywhere while you’re in the midst of writing a draft, so you can pull it out and write in any moment of free time/boredom. Stay focused, be excited about your story, and you should be able to make quick progress while accomplishing the rest of your work. I also highly recommend NaNoWriMo. Honestly, though, writing styles and processes are very personal and varied, so my ways won’t work out for everyone.
2. What habits help you in drafting? In revising? Are there any must-have items, rituals, or mandatory cups of coffee?
Seeing as I’m Mormon, the coffee would be ix-nay. 😉 I’m fortunate enough to be pretty adaptable when it comes to writing. I can write just about anywhere with great focus. Revising is more of a butt-in-chair situation–every time I take a break, I have to force myself to start again, but once I’m working, I’m in it to win it.
3. Speaking of ritual, how important is an organized writing schedule to you? Or do you prefer to write on a whim?
I have OCD, and writing is something I love partly because it has this magical property of somehow being OCD-immune for me. I’m a pantser with few, if any, writing rituals, and no writing schedule to speak of. My writing life is the most disorganized part of my existence (though not the publishing aspect, of course–business requires organization). My OCD makes only two notable appearances in my writing process: occasional bouts of anxiety about whether my work has any value and that fortunate ability to sit down and be (obsessively, but not in an anxious way) focused on finishing the work. Whoo-hoo!
4. Do you have a goal-setting system for your writing/noveling aspirations? What is it like?
NaNoWriMo is key to my writing process, but I don’t really need that end goal. I just like that fun graph where I can see the wonder of my progress. I’m a self-motivated person. I do set general goals for my career every New Year, and with my latest book, I had to set a deadline (that I slightlyyyy crossed over) to get myself past my editing anxiety so I’d send the draft to my first group of readers. But overall, it’s free-form.
5. How do you deal with writer’s block? Do you believe there is such a thing?
I believe that writer’s block occurs for one of three reasons: writer’s doubt, not listening to your characters, and/or a failure to perform the holy act of butt-in-chair. With the first and the third, you have to force your way through. With the second, however, you do need to take a step back and reconnect with the creative flow. You have to give your will over to the character and let them tell you what they think and feel and how they would honestly react to the situations you’ve put them in. If you do that, you should be able to find the point in your story where you ignored them and amend it. After that, the story will flow more naturally.
6. What resources, authors, or familiar quotes do you go back to when you find yourself stuck in writing?
My writer friends (hello Ch1Con team!) are my top resource for any writing-related problem. They’re intelligent, supportive, and have a variety of ways they work, so I can turn to them for new direction whenever I need it. Otherwise, I remember the lessons I’ve learned myself through years of working–butt-in-chair, ignore that writer’s doubt, get your draft down before anything else, etc. I also find sketching my characters and locations to be a helpful source of inspiration when I’m drawing a particular blank.
7. Do you have any general advice for cultivating writing as a habit?
Develop OCD. No, I’m joking, don’t do that. What you really need to do is practice! Go write. And read. All the time. The more you work, the more you’ll understand what methods speak to you and the more you’ll know what to do in the difficult moments. Butt-in-chair, my friends. Get your brain working.
8. What is your advice to a young writer just starting out and hoping to become published or professional?
Don’t give up. As with anything worth doing, becoming an author takes a lot of work, a mountain of time, and a fair amount of heartache. You have to be stubborn. You have to decide upfront to continue working towards your dream whatever happens. If that’s not something you feel you can do, you should consider writing for enjoymentwithout a clear professional goal. Maybe you’ll find your will along the way. If not, you’ll still have cultivated great skills and had fun along the way!