Day 3 of #1000wordsofsummer 2021

Hi friends.

Today you will write 1000 words. You will write them because you are trying to cement some kind of change in your life with your words.  

Perhaps you are trying to build something bigger. It makes sense to have an eye on the future, for there to be a specific purpose to what you are doing here. I support that feeling. I am always trying to construct something new. I am always thinking: What piece goes on top of this one? How does it all slot together? How do I build the stairs, the second floor, the roof?

But the words can also act as a simple bridge from one place to the next. Help you to move emotionally forward in your life, or possibly interact with other people in a fresh way. I have had it happen for me. It is happening right now, in fact. And I want this for you, too. Those 1000 words are a connector, in one way or another. Up or across. And today you will write them.

Today’s guest contributor is YA (and soon middle grade!) superstar Leah Johnson, author of the much-beloved You Should See Me in a Crown. Her second novel, Rise to the Sun, is out on July 6.  Leah’s donation selection is National Bail Out. Today she’s talking about the evolution of her process.

“When I began writing fiction, I was under the impression that there was something fixed and precious about the writing process. That—once I'd finished my MFA and my first manuscript—I would know exactly what it took to do so again and again. Mornings, not nights. Tea, not coffee. Pantser, never a plotter. And yet, my second novel couldn't be written at night. My third novel called for espresso, not tea. My middle grade needed to be tightly plotted and carefully planned. With each book, with each iteration of myself and career, my process continues to shift.

I'm no longer interested in waiting for the magic bullet—the one almighty answer from the literary gods that dictate The Way to write a novel. The work will evolve as I do, as will how I approach it. It's okay to give yourself over to the not-knowing. The I'm-still-figuring-my-shit-out. The maybe-this-never-gets-easier. There's a lot of room for play in those empty spaces between what we know and what we have yet to learn.”

Day three, eleven more to go. What do you know? What do you want to learn? Write into it.


You are reading Craft Talk, the home of #1000wordsofsummer and also a weekly newsletter about writing from Jami Attenberg. I’m also on twitter and instagram.