Write Now with Andy Weir

Today's Write Now interview features Andy Weir, the New York Times bestselling author of The Martian and Artemis.

Write Now with Andy Weir
Photo: Aubrie Pick

When I developed the concept for weekly Write Now interviews, Andy Weir was the first author on my list of requests. Not only is Andy the author of The Martian, one of the greatest books I’ve ever read, but he started his writing career as a hobbyist. He wrote in the evenings while working as a software engineer. I’m so excited that Andy Weir is also the first author who said yes to my interview request! I hope you enjoy the first Write Now interview with Andy Weir.

Who Are You?

I’m Andy Weir, former software engineer and now full-time author. I live near San Jose, California.

What Do You Write?

I write science fiction with a heavy emphasis on scientific accuracy. I’ve always loved to write, ever since I was a kid — I just can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making up stories and creating fantastical worlds in my head.

I avoid political themes or moral messages like the plague. I don’t like being preached at by entertainment, so I don’t preach in my books. There is never any deeper meaning or message to my stories. I’m not trying to change your mind or affect your opinion of anything. My sole purpose is to entertain.

Where Do You Write?

I work in my home office — just a spare bedroom downstairs. I have to be alone to get anything done. I’m easily distracted. Sometimes I listen to music, but it has to be instrumental — no vocals. I think the vocals occupy the language center in my brain or something. Whatever the cause, I can’t write if there’s lyrics to the music I’m listening to.

I use Microsoft Word to do my writing. It’s simply the standard of the industry, and it has excellent collaborative editing and change-tracking features.

I have a whiteboard next to my desk for taking short-term notes or drawing diagrams. But for the most part, my notes and calculations end up in supplemental Word documents or Excel spreadsheets.

When Do You Write?

I try to get 1000 words done each weekday when I’m working on a first draft. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. I usually spend the morning answering fan mail and doing other business-related emails and calls. My writing usually starts after I eat lunch. I’m sort of an afternoon-writer. And until I’ve made my word count, I deny myself certain fun time-wasting stuff. No video of any kind (neither YouTube, nor TV, nor anything else like that). None of my favorite humor websites. I have to concentrate on work.

Why Do You Write?

I just love telling stories, I guess. And I want other people to experience them. I think most authors are driven by the desire for an audience, and I’m no different.

How Do You Overcome Writer’s Block?

I never get “writer’s block” per se. I always know what I want to happen in my story. Sometimes I have to grapple with multiple different ways it could go and I struggle to pick one. But that’s not a block, that’s almost the opposite.

No, my main problem isn’t writer’s block, it’s “writer’s lazy-assed work avoidance”. Sitting down and actually doing the work is hard and sometimes requires a huge amount of effort. So the biggest challenge for me isn’t coming up with the ideas, it’s forcing myself to sit down and do the work.

Bonus: What Do You Enjoy Doing When Not Writing?

I love woodworking — my whole garage is set up as a woodworking shop. Most of my projects are things for the shop itself. Though my main goal is to get to a point where I can make furniture. I’ve made a few pieces and the results were pretty good. I hope to increase my skill on it.

It’s a really nice break from writing. It occupies a different part of my brain. It’s all visual and procedural instead of pure thought and creativity. Makes for a fun activity while still being creative, which is my core enjoyment.

My thanks to Andy Weir for today’s Write Now interview.

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!