Today, I’m joined by Ian Thomas Healy to talk about his writing process, sources of inspiration, and the power of time management. Enjoy!
I started writing seriously about ten years ago. In fact, I started working on my novel Assassin (which was at the time a Star Wars fanfic) in October of 2003. I’ve been working steadily and at an increasing pace since then.
2. Are you a pantser or a planner?
It really depends on where I am in the process of writing a book. Sometimes I’ll do a rough outline ahead of time, especially if it’s for a book in a genre I’m not quite as familiar with. I outlined all my YA books, for example, because none of them are science fiction or fantasy. Other times, I’ll pants it until I’m approaching the endgame, at which point I’ll make some notes so the ending is fairly concrete and I’m not leaving out important plot points.
3. Can you give us an idea of your writing process?
I’m an anomaly, according to a lot of writers I’ve met, in that I’m able to turn the writing mindset on and off at will. I’ve written large portions of several books and short stories entirely on my phone, a few sentences at a time, when I have a chance to jot them down during the day. In that sense, I’m always writing. Working that way also helps me to keep the plot, characters, etc. turning over and over in my mind in between writing times, so it’s like constantly outlining. This has also been an important technique for me when I’m doing NaNoWriMo (http://nanowrimo.org/), which I’ve successfully completed nine years in a row.
Recently, I’ve begun using the Pomodoro Technique (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique) to improve my writing time management, and I’ve been staggered at how much more efficient it’s making me. My average writing pace before Pomodoro was about 1000 words per hour. Now, using Pomodoro, I get anywhere from 700-850 words in 25 minutes, so I’ve increased my output tremendously.
4. Which authors have influenced your work?
A lot of my influences come from the comic book industry, as I’m a huge superhero fan. Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns) and Alan Moore (Watchmen) are two of the biggies. In fiction, my influences include Alan Dean Foster, Mike Resnick, Michael J. Stackpole, Aaron Allston, and the collected authors of the Wild Cards series, edited by George R.R. Martin.
5. What are you plans/future projects/new releases that we should be aware of?
The next book in my Just Cause Universe superhero series, DEEP SIX, is releasing right after Thanksgiving this year. I’m very excited to have the fourth book coming out and I’m sure my fans will be excited. Further JCU releases will come out in 2014 (JACKRABBIT in the Spring, and CHAMPION in the Fall). In the meantime, I’m expecting my next YA novel, MAKING THE CUT (about a televised cooking competition for youth-think Chopped meets The Next Iron Chef), to come out in the first quarter of next year. I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo again this year, with a send-up of epic fantasy starring a couple of Orc brothers, called HORDE. My YA novel THE GUITARIST just released in print and would be a great gift for the young person in your life or as a donation to your favorite library!
Write like failing to do so may stop your heart. Learn from everyone you can. Read about the industry, and don’t just limit yourself to self-publishing or pin all your hopes on an agent and traditional publishing. Work both sides of the fence. Learn how to run a business, because you should treat writing like any other business.
And lastly, praise is wonderful, but nobody ever became a better writer by having sunshine constantly blown up one’s ass. Honest, valid critiques are the best way to discover the flaws in your writing and how to correct them.
7. Any tips for old writers?
Get up and take a walk now and then. Watch less TV. Take your vitamins. Don’t be afraid of new technologies; embrace them.