Tracy Ward is another of my colleagues from Sisters in Crime. She has some great advice below and a super cool blog called Corsets and Cadavers. Check her out:
1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?
I have two kids and it doesn’t seem to matter how much I try to established a routine, it often goes out the window. I try to write whenever I can. Sometimes all I get is a few sets of 15 minute intervals each day but often that is enough to reach my self-imposed 500 word/day minimum. I also take advantage of my kids’ extra curricular activities and bring my laptop along to write at a nearby coffee shop while they are at soccer practice or girl guides or dance lessons etc. Sometimes if I am on a roll I stay up late, writing until 1 a.m., but I try not to do that often because it wreaks havoc on my mornings.
2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?
I try to have multiple stories on the go. Usually one novel and a few short stories. If I get stuck on my main project I switch to the shorts. A good bathroom cleaning or weeding session also seem to work wonders. Often a physical task that doesn’t require a lot of thought helps me clear my mind so I can re-think my creative direction.
3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?
To be honest I don’t read writing books. I have come to realize my time is better spent reading good writing from all genres. While attending college a journalism professor I adore once told us that good writers read, read, read, read. He wrote that word on the whiteboard more than twenty times to drive home his point. He said the best way to become a good writer is to read anything we can get out hands on and it’s a practice I continue to this day. In my experience that is the best way to become a better writer.
4. Who do you read for fun?
I love Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey mysteries and I buy her books almost as soon as they hit the shelves. I enjoy Sarah Waters and Anne Perry as well. I am currently reading The Hunger Games trilogy to my kids and I am enjoying that series immensely. I grew up reading Lucy Maud Montgomery and I often return to her books re-reading old favourites (The Blue Castle, The Story Girl and Emily of New Moon).
5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.
When I was in elementary school the Teacher-Librarian was an amazing inspiration for me. She shared her love for books with me and I started bringing the little stories I would write to her to read. She was always so enthusiastic about my “Carebears fan fiction” that I kept writing. I wrote stories about my cats and my friends. In my Grade 6 year I wrote and illustrated a book about my friend’s birthday party and made it into a homemade book. She loved it so much she asked if she could keep it in the school’s library. She put a little pocket on it with its own check out card. Within a few weeks I saw names written on the card of all the people who had read my book and I was hooked. I knew I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to keep having that feeling, the feeling that other people enjoyed my stories.
6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
Remember writing is a muscle, it MUST be worked every day. I graduated from Journalism school over 12 years ago thinking that as long as I was writing I was making steps toward my ultimate dream of being a novelist. I think writing newspaper articles helped, but it really came down to working on my creative writing every day. When you write everyday your project is always on your mind. You will get amazing inspiration when not in front of the computer screen but that doesn’t happen if writing is not part of your everyday consciousness.
7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?
Tenacity. Never give up. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Never throw out anything even after one hundred rejections because you never know when the perfect market for your work will appear. When that happens you will have a rich cache of short stories, poems or even full length novels to throw at it.
8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?
Chocolate covered almonds are heavenly and as long as I am in confession-mode I might as well admit to having a slight Diet Coke dependency (but I never inhale).
9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?
I’d have to say my favourite movie is a mini-series from BBC called North & South, based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell. The story is historical about a young woman, Margaret Hale, who must move with her family from southern England to an early industrial mill town in the north and finds it difficult to adjust to the perceived harshness of life she finds there. My favourite book is Random Passage by Bernice Morgan, about Irish immigrants arriving in the early colony of Newfoundland and the hardships they faced while living in a secluded harbour on the eastern coast. Ironically this was also made into a movie produced by CBC.
A former journalist and graduate from Humber College’s School for Writers, Tracy Ward has been hard at work developing her favourite protagonist, Peter Ainsley, and chronicling his adventures as a young surgeon in Victorian England. Her first book featuring Peter Ainsley titled, CHORUS OF THE DEAD, was published earlier this month. Her website can be found at www.gothicmysterywriter.blogspot.com. Tracy Ward is currently working on the second book in the Peter Ainsley mystery series. She lives near Barrie, Ontario with her husband, two kids and a brown, cocker spaniel puppy named Watson.
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