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This blog was featured on 10/09/2018
Jodi Picoult on Writer’s Block, Her Routine and Her Failure As A Young Writer
Written by
She Writes
October 2018
Written by
She Writes
October 2018

The critically acclaimed author of dozens of novels, Jodi Picoult, has plenty of experience in the world of writing. Having been published by both Simon & Schuster and Random House, Picoult has had plenty of failures and successes when it comes to publishing. Her latest novel, A Spark of Light, has just been released and in celebration, we’re breaking down a few aspects of the bestselling author’s work.  

On A Spark of Light

Jodi Picoult’s new novel A Spark of Light features an intense shooting and hostage situation at an abortion clinic. During an interview with CBS News, Picoult talked more about her history with women’s reproductive rights and the way her opinion has changed over the years:

“I couldn't figure out how I could hold both of those concepts in my mind at the same time. In America we tend to legislate reproductive rights but laws are black and white and the lives of women are a thousand shades of gray and that was why I wanted to write this book," Picoult said. "Uncertainty exists for the individual woman over the course of her own life. What you believe at 14 is not what you think at 30 or 45.”

Tips for Aspiring Writers

Jodi Picoult is by far one of the most popular names in fiction with over 20 novels to her name, over 10 of which were New York Times bestsellers. Over the years she has shared tidbits of her own writing advice for all of those who are new to the writing game. This is the advice she gave when The Guardian asked about her best tips

“Carve out a bit of time every day to write, and make sure you do it - and nothing but that - even when you don't feel very motivated. Read a ton. Take a workshop course so you learn to give and get criticism. When you're stuck, and sure you've written absolutely garbage, force yourself to finish and THEN decide to fix or scrap it - or you will never know if you can.”

On Her Writing Routine

Every writer is different when it comes to their writing routine. Whether it’s a change of scenery, the music they listen to or the device they write on, Jodi is like fellow writers who has a specific routine. When asked by The Daily Beast about the way she comes up with her stories, she had this to say:

“It starts with a “what if” question. I wonder, What would I do in that situation? What if this parameter or that one changed? Eventually characters start talking to me—I can hear them in my head. I then do a ton of research—and finally, when I know I have the perfect first line, I let myself start to write.”

She later let The Guardian in on what a day of writing looks like for her:

“I get up at 5:30, go for a three mile walk with a friend, then come home, shower, get the kids off to school, and sit down at my computer. I keep working until 3:30, when I magically become a mom again.”

On Writer’s Block

Jodi’s philosophy on writer’s block tends to stray away from what other writers believe. During an interview with The Daily Beast, the #1 New York Times bestselling author told the outlet exactly how she feels about the topic:

“I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it—when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

On Publishing Her First Book

Like a lot of writers, Jodi Picoult met plenty of failure before becoming a well-established and successful writer. Her journey to publishing her first book was quite long but in the end, paid off tremendously. While talking with The Daily Beast about her humble beginnings, she talked  a little bit about the process:

"I had over 100 rejection letters from agents. Finally, one woman who had never represented anyone in her life said she thought she could take me on. I jumped at the chance. She sold my first novel in three months." 

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  • Lisa Thomson

    Thanks for sharing Ms. Picoult's tips and philosophy. This is so inspiring. We tend to think these famous writers were always famous or they magically made it...not the case. Lots of hard work.

  • Diana Y. Paul Writing

    Maybe instead of writer's block, we should call it "writer's cramps", the pain we feel trying to write but procrastinating until the day is almost over!