Happy Birthday, Jodi Picoult, born 19 May 1966.
- I’m a workaholic. I will start a new book the day after finishing a previous one. What you need to remember, however, is that there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than writing.
- When I start a book, I juggle a what-if question in my head, and push it and push it until I feel like I have a good story. I figure out what I need to know and do my research, via the Internet or email or in some cases getting down and dirty. I start to write when I come up with an excellent first line. And then I keep going, chapter by chapter, exactly in the order in which you’re reading it. Often, about 2/3 of the way through, the characters will take over and move the book in a different direction. I can fight them, but usually when I do that the book isn’t as good as it could be. It sounds crazy, but the book really starts writing itself after a while. I often feel like I’m just transcribing a film that’s being spooled in my head, and I have nothing to do with creating it.
- I hate catching authors in inaccuracies when I’m a reader, so I’m a stickler when I’m writing. At this point, I have several folks on call for me during a book – a few lawyers, a couple of psychiatrists, some doctors, a pathologist, a DNA scientist, a handful of detectives. When I start researching, I read everything I can about a topic. Then I meet with an ‘expert’.
- I hate being pigeonholed. When someone says I write women’s fiction, they really mean: A woman wrote that fiction. Why isn’t there ‘men’s fiction’.
- I usually draw a plot out of thin air, but pepper the book with real-life conversations I have had in different contexts. My friends tell me that it’s really strange to be reading one of my books and to find one’s life sprawled across the page…
- Real writers can’t sleep because there are stories batting around inside their heads. Real writers create characters they weep over, because they are so real. Real writers can’t NOT write. I think you can make a person a better writer technically by having him/her attend workshops and creative writing programs… but I think that at the basal level, writers are born, not made.
- Many people have a novel inside them, but most don’t bother to get it out. Writing is grunt work – you need to have self-motivation, perseverance, and faith… talent is the smallest part of it.
- I don’t believe that you need an MFA to be a writer, but I do think you need to take some good workshops. These are often offered through writer’s groups or community colleges. You need to learn to write on demand, and to get critiqued without flinching. When someone can rip your work to shreds without it feeling as though your arm has been hacked off, you’re ready to send your novel off to an agent.
- Keep sending out your work and don’t get discouraged when it comes back from an agent – just send it out to a different one. Attend signings/lectures by authors, and in your free time, read read read. All of this will make you a better writer.
- When you finally start to write something, do not let yourself stop…even when you are convinced it’s the worst garbage ever. This is the biggest caveat for beginning writers. Instead, force yourself to finish what you began, and THEN go back and edit it. If you keep scrapping your beginnings, however, you’ll never know if you can reach an end.
Jodi Picoult is a best-selling American author. She has written 25 novels, including My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes,and Sing Me Home. Her last five novels have debuted at number one on the New York Times best-seller list.
Follow this link to find out where Jodi Picoult writes.
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