Write Now with Jennifer Waitte

How emotional investment helps prevent writer’s block

Write Now with Jennifer Waitte
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Waitte

Who Are You?

Jennifer Waitte. I am a former journalist, feature writer and editor. I now focus my writing efforts on fiction. I live in Napa, California, where my husband and I own a winery. I am also a competitive equestrian.

What Do You Write?

I write fiction! My work is literary and character driven. With my second novel, I am delving into writing narrative fiction. I started as a creative-writing kid, then studied journalism in college, then went on to a career in magazines, then went back to creative writing. I’d like to go back to being a kid again, but that doesn’t seem to be panning out. I love writing fiction. In fact, I recently gave up another pastime that I have enjoyed for decades in order to have more time to write.

Where Do You Write?

Mostly, I write at home. I am fortunate to have a beautiful home that inspires me every day. My favorite location inside my house is an overstuffed leather chair in the living room that looks out over the vineyards. I also have a small desk that looks out onto the back garden. In truth, I can write anywhere, in any environment. I can tune out any noise or activity around me and focus on writing. I write on my laptop in Word. That’s it.

When Do You Write?

I tend to write early in the morning (5:30 am to 7:30 am) and in the evenings, after dinner. I would write all day, every day, if I could. Unfortunately, I have a full-time job that forces me away from my writing.

Why Do You Write?

That is a great question. I am highly motivated, but it is difficult to explain where that motivation comes from. I have to say I write because I become emotionally invested in my characters and I want to participate in their lives. That is really what motivates me to write their stories. After all, it is their lives I am writing about, not mine.

How Do You Overcome Writer’s Block?

Years of writing professionally trained me to overcome writer’s block. It was not unusual for me to have several articles in progress at any given time, in various stages of completion. I always started with an outline for each one. As a result, I knew what the article would be about before I wrote it. I knew what questions I needed to ask during interviews and/or what I needed to research. With this framework place, I could jump around one article or even between multiple articles based on what I felt like working on. This prevented me from ever getting writer’s block.

For my fiction writing, I apply the same practice. I first outline the book. I call this the “story.” In a more polished form, it would be the synopsis, which, by the way, I write last, not first. What the story is, for me, is a rough, shorter version of what I have in mind for the final book. I can then delve into various sections of the story based on what I feel like working on. I never get lost in it. I never get stuck trying to figure out where I am trying to go. I take the story and develop it into the book in sometimes random sections; I don’t write from beginning to end. I recently read a manuscript written by a friend of mine. I told him, “This is a great story! Now you need to go back and develop it into book.”

Bonus: What Do You Enjoy Doing When Not Writing?

I am a lifelong equestrian, and so my favorite pastime is riding horses. I also enjoy walking, hiking and cycling with my husband. I love to travel, but that has come to a halt. We live in wine country and so food and wine are high on my list of things I enjoy.

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!