How I write: Ann Brashares
Published: May 27, 2005
|Pay attention to conversations you have with friends-they could be the source of your next story idea. That's where young-adult author Ann Brashares got the idea for her New York Times bestselling novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. A friend told her about a pair of jeans she once shared with a group of friends, and Brashares saw the story possibilities immediately. With her friend's permission, she turned that idea into a series of books about four high school girls who share a pair of thrift store jeans during their summer vacations. A movie of the first book was released last month. |
The author lives in New York City with her husband and their three children.
Credits: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2001),
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood (2003) and Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood (2005).
Why I write: Though I've always loved books and stories, I became a writer gradually and timidly-almost without ever announcing to myself that that's what I was doing. I started out as an assistant for a book packager. ... Ten years into the job, the process of building a book out of scenes and chapters was largely demystified. And then something else started to happen: My imagination crept outside the books I was working on. I began developing my own ideas. I wanted to stop cleaning up other people's messes and make a few of my own.
When: I write fitfully. I write nothing for alarmingly long periods, and then I write a lot, quickly. It's very hard for me to get inside a book-inside characters' lives-but I am very happy once I am there. My best, most productive time comes at night, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.
Where: I write in my study in the top of the house I share with my husband and our three children in New York City. In our old house, I used my study for all of our household stuff--the bills, the finances, everything having to do with our children. When we moved to our current house, we set up a desk in the kitchen specifically for all of the paperwork. Now my study is preserved for writing and reading. I recommend that separation, if you can manage it.
Process: Like many writers, I leave the current page of the book I'm writing on the computer screen, so it's there to greet me as soon as I sit down at my desk. That way, I kind of can't help but look over what I've written. Then I can't help but find things wrong with it. Then I can't help but start to fiddle with it. Soon enough, I'm drawn in. The transition from old writing to new writing isn't so jarring as starting from scratch.
On outlining: I need to know where I'm going in order to set off. That's just how I am. I don't always end up where I set out to go. And sometimes I do end up there, but by a completely different means. I'm always happy to detour from my outline-wildly, even. But I need one to start the trip.
On writer's block: I call it procrastination, distraction or out-and-out laziness, but it's the same kind of thing. ... The best way I know to get going is to give yourself a break. Don't expect big things. Start off by writing pages intended only for the garbage can. Once the pressure is off, you can ease yourself in.
Advice for YA writers: Don't think of yourself as a young-adult writer. Think of yourself as a writer writing about characters who are teenagers (or thereabout). I like to write each scene in a very close point of view, not a wandering or omniscient one, because it demands a certain discipline. Once you are embedded in the mind of your character, thinking her thoughts and feeling her feelings, you don't need to worry about writing for this or that age group. She'll show you what to do.