At this year’s Romantic Times convention, BookBaby interviewed the New York Times Bestselling romance and mystery author Jennifer Ashley, who’s published over 30 books. Romance readers, in particular, are especially voracious, and it’s a challenge for writers to keep up with their demand (they easily can want to read up to four novels per year by the same author!) We asked her if she had any writing ideas which have helped her to become so prolific.
She credits her output to:
- Consistent hard work. No substitute for his one – she works hard, 7 days a week, even on Christmas. “I work all the time and have no life,” she jokes.
- Tea and bagels. Caffeine, carbs, and coffee shops, while not for everyone, put her in a creative mindset.
- Using a creative hobby to break up the day. She typically can only write productively in 3 or 4 solid, concentrated sprints of 1-2 hours each. When each writing session ends, she’ll promote her work on Facebook and Twitter – but what then? The business aspect of being a writer is, in her words, a “different mindset” than the writing part, and it’s difficult to switch gears to go back to writing after working the social networks. That’s why she works on dollhouses and plays the guitar. When she’s stuck, making a miniature chair helps clear her brain, so that later, when she’s forced to go back to writing while she has to wait for the paint to dry, she’ll often find herself saying, “Oh, so that’s the next thing that happens in the plot!”
- Playing games with herself and giving up on the idea of having self-discipline. She allows herself to be prolific by pretending there’s another part of herself which tells her what she has permission to do. As she puts it: “I’m only allowed a small amount of time on the Internet because I like it too much.”
- Keeping your creative passion at the front of mind. Many things motivate Jennifer as a writer – deadlines; paychecks; the feeling of embarrassment she’d have if she had to explain to an editor why a manuscript was so late – but first and foremost, what keeps her writing is that she loves to tell stories. Even when she started and her stories were terrible, she remembers that telling stories is a “high” for her.
That’s why she’s so excited by self-publishing: she still has many stories which she hasn’t yet sold. Not all of them may be marketable to mass audiences by the largest publishers, but that’s fine with her: she just wants to tell stories, however big the audience might be for a particular book.