Q & A

This page is dedicated to questions asked at school visits, writer events, or over a cup of coffee that was too good to not share. If you have a question about writing or life or the writing life please feel free to drop a comment.

Q: What advice can you give to a teen who wants to write?

A: Don’t want to write. Just write. Start now. That story that’s swimming in the back of your mind? Be brave!  Tackle that blank screen/page. But also . . .

  • read. a lot. read the kinds of stories you want to write. Then read more stories within that genre. And read stories from different genres, you may be inspired to try something different.
  • find like minded people and start a critique group. Meet regularly to share stories and critique them for one another. More on critique groups here.
  • You are a great age to do a lot of exploring. Learn about all the different career paths related to writing. Do any of them appeal more than others? Talk to your guidance counselor oR college advisor about options. Take classes in college related to writing and language.
  • Eavesdrop on people’s conversations and study people. But try to do it inconspicuously, don’t want to creep anybody out. Doing so helps to write more authentically.
  • Play in other art forms. It helps unlock creativity.
  • Be brave!


Q: What do you find the hardest part about writing?

A: I call writing a wonderful torture. It is torture to come up with a new idea, and it’s wonderful when one comes.

It’s torture to research the topic, but it’s wonderful when the pieces start to come together.

It’s torture to be vulnerable and put your work out there for others to see, but it’s wonderful to get feedback, especially when it’s constructive.

You get the picture.

But the truly hard part for me is when I have to put my character through things that I know will hurt her. Anything that causes her to feel heartache, fear, rejection, sorrow, etc, is painful for me to write.  So I relish in the victories, the overcomings, the pushing throughs. Seeing a character I love get to the other side of her trials is extremely satisfying, even when it’s hard to write.

Q: How was I as a writer in high school? (and When did I know I had some talent in writing?)

A: I was in the honors program and my writing skills was comparable to my peers. I enjoyed working on the school newspaper and yearbook where I could write articles about school life. The AP program was a brand new thing my junior year of high school, so we were the guinea pigs of what you have now. I took AP English my senior year. My teacher really drove home the idea of the thesis statement and how every single sentence we wrote had to support it.

The first paper we had to write that year was an analysis of Hamlet. I can’t remember the details too well now and if I kept a copy it’s hiding in a dark corner of my bedroom closet in my mother’s house. But I remember two things very clearly about it.

The first was I had fun writing it. I know. Fun analyzing Shakespeare. It does sound like an oxymoron. It was fun because I wrote it in a way that made it fun for me. I turned it into some kind of competition between the main characters. Chess game? Sport game? I can’t remember. But talk about voice! No one else could’ve written it with the personality I put into it AND accomplish the teacher’s expectations.

The second thing I remember was my teacher’s response. He couldn’t contain his adoration for the writing. He made copies of. Shared it with his colleagues and my classmates. Read it aloud in class. Hearing that kind of praise for something I created put a deep down craving for more.

I set the bar high for myself that year and failed to reach it again. I came close on my last paper, but not everything we write will shine equally. That’s why we have to keep on writing.



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