Geetanjali Mukherjee

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How I Write: Authors on Their Writing Process - Scott Thompson

As evidenced by the many posts on the creative process on this blog, I am fascinated in the nuts and bolts of how creativity happens. Perhaps I am just curious, or maybe I am hoping to get some nuggets of wisdom that I can steal, ahem borrow, from other creative professionals. 

That is why, I am starting a new feature on the blog, of interviews of authors, asking them various questions about their writing process, what tools and technology they use, how they edit and market their books, and generally about how they get a book from idea to finished product. 

Our first author interview is with a writer from Atlanta, Georgia, whose second novel is releasing shortly - Scott Thompson

    Hello Scott. Welcome to Creativity@Work and thanks for participating in this interview! 

    1.       When did you first start writing?
Probably as a kid, but it wasn’t very good until my late 30s. I was always a storyteller. It took me longer to learn how to put my stories on paper.

2.       What are your books about? Are you self / traditionally published or hybrid?
My books are about life. I’m interested in the journey we humans take in becoming better people and finding our purpose.

My latest book, Eight Days, is published by French Press Bookworks. I have self-published a couple of short stories, but that’s only so people can sample my writing. I enjoy working with a publisher and making friends with the other authors and staff. Writing is a lonely process, and it’s nice to find other writers around the world who are like me. 

3.        What led to your love for literature? Any favorite books / teachers / writing mentors?
I was lucky enough to grow up in the American South, where we are taught by stories. Very few of the stories and legends one grows up with in the South are true, but some are, and you never know the difference. I learned how to write from my teachers, but my love of the story came from people with very little education. There are always lessons to teach, and if you can’t teach them through books you use verbal stories. 

4.         What's your writing process like? Do you outline? Do you write by hand / type / dictate?
If it’s a book, I outline first, but I don’t let the outline control me too much. If the characters or events take the story in a different direction, I follow.
I may write down ideas on paper, but I create my stories on a computer. The connection between my mind and the screen is tight. Many writers work best from paper first, but my mind works best in digital.

5.         What's your editing process?
I do some editing as I write the first draft, but not too much. If one edits too much before the entire story is put down it’s difficult to finish. I will go through several revisions after the first draft is completed. Then I’ll let someone read it and revise based on their ideas. It’s easy to mess up continuity or for a character to do something without motivation. First readers of manuscripts catch these sort of errors.   

6.         Who or what inspires you? Where / how do you get your book ideas?
Some ideas come late at night or even in dreams, when my mind has time to wander. There are a hundred ideas a day for writers if we look. For me, inspiration comes from within. I drive myself harder than anyone else.

7.         Do you have a writing routine / schedule? Any specific rituals?
I try to write every day. To get writing again I’ll do a quick read through or edit from the previous day’s work. This gets me back into that world so that I can continue. Writing is work, and just like any work or job, you have to do it. There are no secrets. It’s discipline.

8.          Describe your desk / writing corner / favorite writing spot.
I would love to have a writing room that overlooks a mountain or lake, or both, but right now, I write anywhere I can. The great thing about the digital world is that I can carry a laptop and write in the library, in a coffee shop, at home, or on vacation. If I have a few hours of peace, I can write.

9.          Do you ever get writers' block? What are some ways you get around it?
I don’t know if writer’s block is real. It isn’t for me. The only problem I have is motivation. I’ve found that the real secret to finishing a novel is discipline. There is talent and craft, and those are huge, but those don’t help you if you don’t have the discipline to work until a project is finished. Just do it, as Nike said in an old advertisement. Discipline is the secret to writing a novel, and the secret to success in almost any life challenge.

10.        How much research do you do? What kind?
For Eight Days, I read every scholarly book I could find about the afterlife. I avoided fiction books about Heaven, and I avoided the “Heaven is real” type books. I didn’t want those to influence my story.

11.        How much marketing do you do? Which platforms are you most active on? 
I try to meet with book clubs, at libraries, and bookstores when asked. I enjoy talking about writing, and I will meet with anyone who’ll have me. I promote online too. My weird brain interacts well digitally.  

12.        What books do you like to read? What are you reading now?
    I like fiction, but I try to read everything I can. I don’t avoid any type of author or authors of any race, sex, religion, or whatever. There’s something to learn from everyone, and I do learn from people (authors) who are different from me. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen readers make is when they say they are not going to read any male author, or American authors, etc. I understand their motivation – they want to expand their knowledge – but you don’t grow as a person by excluding anyone. It’s better to say you want to read as much as you can in X genre or area, but never exclude anyone or anything. You’ll miss too much.    


    Scott Thompson is the author of two novels, magazine articles, and multiple short stories. He is a founding editor of the arts journal, Grand Central Review. His latest novel, Eight Days, takes place in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and follows a man who has recently died, but before he can pass to eternity, he must deal with the greatest regrets from his life. Thompson lives near Atlanta, Georgia, USA with his family. Learn more at 

Most Recent Novel: Eight Days

Clive Kinsella lived a good life. He had a family who loved him and he was never without a job, a place to live, or a warm meal. But Clive died unfulfilled. Despite all his gifts he could only see what he didn't have. He never wrote for a big newspaper in a big city. He never traveled the world. In fact, he never got out of his small Southern town. And ... he never faced the ghosts that haunted him.

At his own funeral Clive meets Pachu, his grandfather who had died years before, and with Pachu he begins a journey through his life where he has to finally face his greatest regrets and agonies. But, if Clive can't overcome his regrets he'll be forced to wander the place between Heaven and Earth. Each day Clive revisits events in life in a sort of spiritual recording, the same events that took him from being an optimistic young man to a curmudgeon.

For every day he overcomes he gets to visit a place on earth he never saw before, and the reader is taken to places like Half Dome in Yosemite and Venice, where Pachu and Clive discuss existence and the meaning of life. But if Clive can't overcome his greatest regrets, he'll be trapped in the in-between as a ghost.

Eight Days is available to pre-order now on Amazon.

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