LifeOfWriters.com is very proud to share the honest and inspiring author interview with Amazon bestseller Jenny Hale. She is the author of 7 books and her book Coming Home for Christmas will be on The Hallmark Channel December 2017. Her latest book The Summer House was released in June 2017.
What does your typical writing day look like for you and do you use a word count?
My typical writing day begins between 8:30 and 9:00 in the morning and goes straight through until around noon. Any longer than that and I have to recharge creatively. The rest of the day I’ll pop in on my characters, add a few lines or sometimes a scene, but the majority of the work happens in those morning hours. With that said, I live and die by my word count! While writing under contract (and deadlines) it’s imperative that I have a word count to hit every day so I’ll stay on track. On average, I write about 1,000 new words a day in those morning hours, or, if I’m in editing, I’ll edit around 4,000. I consider those averages to be my minimum for the day and push myself to get more. While I can’t always get more, sometimes I’ll surprise myself.
When you wrote your first book, how did you keep going, not knowing if it would be published or not?
How I kept going was a strange thing that baffles me to this day. I suppose it boils down to the fact that, in the “Is the cup half full or half empty” scenario, I go with half full every time. There was always that thought that just maybe something big could happen, so I kept writing. It became almost like a mental sport for me, with publishing the ultimate prize. I practiced every night, worked hard at it, pushed myself through my flaws with reading in my genre and books on the craft, and I celebrated the successes of having agents or editors ask for a partial or a full. Getting a “no” was just a missed swing in the baseball game of publishing, so I’d get up and swing again.
You have written seven books. How long does it take for you to write a book from the first word to a published book?
I write two books a year, so, on average, I spend six months per book, which is really fast! I can barely get it done sometimes. (But I’m a perfectionist, so I’d spend indefinite lengths of time to make it perfect if I could.)
What is your editing process?
I throw together a very rough draft, just trying to get all the plot pieces and character arcs in order and send it over to my editor. I usually don’t even read it through at all before sending it. I see the first draft as a promise of what the story might be, almost like a blueprint. Then I do a structural edit—this can be more than one, depending on the story. The structural edit is where I mold the story into the real thing. Once I get the story in the order that works, then I go in and do a read-through where I shine it up, adding in all the little details, deepening the backstory and the character’s personalities. After that, I have a line edit, tightening all the details I’ve added. That’s when the editors take over and we do a copyedit for grammar and punctuation, which I check and double check after they have, and then a proofread.
What is the best writing advice you can give to aspiring authors?
- People might think you’re crazy for having this big dream you’re going after. Let them. They won’t think you’re so crazy once you achieve it.
- All they can say is no. I kept telling myself this. When you submit to agents and editors, what’s the worst that could happen? They could say no. And they will. Submit anyway! It only takes one yes.
- The time will pass whether you do it or not, so do it.
How often do you read and what do you read?
I don’t read nearly as often as I’d like (which would be all the time). I tend to read in my genre, but I will sometimes go outside of it just for a change of pace. I love Sophie Kinsella, Jill Mansell, Emily Giffin, and Harriet Evans to name a few. As for books on writing, my favorites are Story by Robert McKee and On Writing by Stephen King.
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