Who are you?
Steven T. Collis is an author and law professor at the University of Texas — Austin School of Law. His previous books include the bestselling The Immortals and the nonfiction title Deep Conviction. Based in Austin, he is a sought-after speaker across the nation on writing and the First Amendment.
What do you write?
I write both fiction and narrative nonfiction. I started writing when I was in fifth grade because I fell in love with a number of fantasy series. I told my fifth-grade English teacher I wanted to be a novelist. I generally prefer to find stories that will uplift people rather than leave them dejected. I absolutely love what I do — I find I have a compulsion to write. The stories are often inside me, bursting to come forth, and I rarely feel as alive as I do when I’m drafting something.
Where do you write?
I do almost all of my writing on my laptop, usually in my office, but often wherever I can fit it in. That includes, sometimes, hotel lobbies, guest rooms in hotels, and even in the passenger seat of my car with someone else driving. I always keep a notebook next to me to write down important ideas, but I keep almost all of my tools on my computer.
When do you write?
I do my best writing in the mornings and usually, block off that time just for that. When I’m in the midst of trying to get a manuscript out the door, I set a page goal for each day. I use a modified Pomodoro method — where I work with intense focus and without interruption for a page. Then when I finish a page, I take a five-minute break, give my brain a rest, then tackle the next page. I can do that for hours.
Why do you write?
I simply can’t help it. It’s an impulse, a compulsion. I learn of a great story or have one materialize in my head, and I have to pursue it. The motivation just comes from within — I have a hard time explaining that. It’s not something I have to manufacture or create.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I’ve learned that the best thing for writer’s block is to just bulldoze through it. In my experience, when I’m tempted to get blocked, it’s because I’m worried that what I’m writing is no good or I’m not sure it will be any good. In those scenarios, I find it’s better to just write anyway. If what I produce is garbage, I can come back and fix it. Generally, it turns out that what I thought was going to be bad ends up being something worth having. Just keep writing!
Bonus: What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
Spending time with my family, watching college football, reading, and teaching.
My thanks to Steven T. Collis for today’s interview.