Sometimes during an interview writers give interesting insights into the whys and hows of their writing methods. Usually those insights are interesting peeks into a writer’s kimono since readers usually only know the finished product, it’s a feeling of “So, that’s what goes into the sausage!”
Comedian and writer Ricky Gervais says when he was in school he’d write about things he thought were cool to write about. And he got low marks. Eventually, at his teacher’s insistence he tried writing about the stuff that made up his life and his grades got really good.
He realized that the ordinary is extraordinary. The minutiae of your own life is what you know and can write insightfully about. People sense it and as writer Pico Iyer says, “The reader wants to travel beside you, looking over your shoulder.”
Although best known for writing “Eat, Love, Pray,” Elizabeth Gilbert has written several books and goes old school by cataloging her ideas for a book using index cards and shoeboxes.
She says “My newest book has five shoeboxes full of organized index cards lined up. Without them I don’t think I’d have any idea how to write a book.”
While Gilbert is writing she chews lots of gum, a pack a day, a nonsmoker’s form of chain-smoking. For her, it works to activate her brain.
At the end of a writing session she stops in the middle of the sentence she’s working on so the next day she can avoid a slow start by immediately being able to write something and keep going.
She attributes that technique to Hemingway.