Award-winning novelist SJ Rozan and BookBaby president Brian Felsen sat down at the 2011 California Crime Writers Conference to talk about her creative process, how technology has changed the conversation with publishers, and the tricks that create a memorable book.

In this segment, SJ Rozan talks about her slow transition (over 15 years) from full-time architect to full-time writer. When she first started writing, Rozan had a professional career that took up 60+ hours a week of work. She could only write on weekend mornings and maybe one other weekday evening.

Slowly, as she became more senior in her firm, she began to work fewer hours, but realized that in order to fully inhabit the problems of plot, sentence, rhythms, and character, she needed mental space (on the bus, feeding the cat, in the shower) that had been devoted thus far to the problems of her professional clients.

If she stayed at the fir, Rozan felt as though it was like holding onto the rail; she would never know if she could do the fancy figures in the middle of the ice until she let go. Her advice to writers with day-jobs: keep ’em, but write whenever you can; work your way towards a place where you can let go of the rail. You’ll never know unless you try.

And in preparation for that leap, Rozan offers two other bits of advice:

1) You have to write every day. It’s like working out; if you skip a day, not only are you missing the immediate benefits of having lifted weights or jogged 3 miles that day, but you’ll be weaker the next time you return to it.

2) Also, you have to think of yourself as a writer. You have to give yourself permission to blow off friends, take half a day off from your day-job every once in a while, etc. in order to get the writing done. You have to think of yourself as a writer so that the daily activity of writing feels legit amongst all the complexities of your life.

So– keep your day-jobs; give up the laundry or a little sleep instead. But keep the writing going steadily. At a page a day you’ll have a book in a year’s time. You have the right to write!

Chris Robley

About Chris Robley

Chris Robley has written 570 posts in this blog.

is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."

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