S2 E9: JESSICA ANYA BLAU – AUTHOR

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Jessica is easily the biggest personality who has joined our show so far. From discussing a bread bag full of cocaine to naked yoga to being offered a role in an adult film, we covered quite a bit of new ground in this episode.

Along with the entertainment value of Jessica’s point of view, she also offers valuable perspective on writing. First and foremost, she is curious about everyone. Her default setting is to like someone until he/she gives her a reason not to. The combo of curiosity and amicability has resulted in a constant flow of research and learning, which ultimately makes its way into her books.

Jessica also said she’s great at disassociating, naturally floating above herself when she’s writing. This gives her the advantage of extreme objectivity, and helps her better inhabit her characters and their lives. 

From a utilitarian perspective, Jessica offered several fantastic insights, many of which act counter to what you may have heard from other writers. For example, she does not have a narrative journey mapped out when she writes. She is not writing toward an ending or even a new scene. Instead, she thinks/writes in the moment, really only thinking one step at a time. This has resulted in unexpected moments and twists in her stories. And that’s just scratching the surface of a massive amount of takeaways you’ll hear in this great discussion.

So, if you’re interested in a new take on writing or you just want to laugh, make sure you listen to the episode. Here are Jessica’s Three Big How’s, which will go a long way in helping you think about new ways to write:

THREE BIG HOW’S

SHUT UP & WRITE

The environment, conditions, and system will never be perfect. Nobody in your world is going to stop what they’re doing and give you the time you need to write. You have to do it yourself. You need to write in spite of the conditions, not because of them. So, train to write in any conditions. 

USE BURSTS

Jessica writes in short increments of 20-25 minutes. No editing, no reviewing, just intensely writing. In between the bursts, she does other things: a little yoga, chores, returning emails/texts, etc. So she’ll go in and out, in and out of writing in these bursts to ensure she keeps her energy and focus intact. She believes the expectation to stay highly focused for hours at a time is absurd. This is especially interesting, because it is a counterpoint to many other writers who do the opposite. That’s not to say one or the other is right or wrong; it’s simply stating that it could be different—and more fruitful—for different types of people. 

ONE GOOD SENTENCE

All of Jessica’s novels and stories have started with one good sentence…a sentence that is intriguing to her and helps frame the story in a certain way. The sentence has crystallized her thinking and her idea to the point where she feels like she can make something special. It’s not a sentence that she has agonized over, but rather a spark that illuminates the way. 

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