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This blog was featured on 03/05/2019
Taylor Jenkins Reid on Lesson Learned, Rejection and Writing Honest Characters
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
March 2019
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
March 2019

Taylor Jenkins Reid, the Los Angeles-based author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, One True Loves, Maybe in Another Life, and Forever, Interrupted is March’s No. 1 Indie Next List Pick for Daisy Jones & The Six.

Written as a compilation of interviews with former band members and their industry contemporaries, the novel tells the story of the whirlwind rise of the fictional 1970s rock group and their starlet lead singer – along with the mystery behind their infamous breakup.

Here we rounded up some of Reid’s best interviews, filled with details about her writing process, inspiration, and advice for writers.

On Her Writing Process

Reid is dedicated to her craft – writing daily, sometimes all day in a regimented routine to finish each novel.

“When I’m working on my books, I’m very regimented,” she says. “I start with my idea, and I know how the story begins and the story ends, but what’s in the middle I don’t know. So for my first drafts, which can take anywhere from four weeks to eight weeks, I write a certain amount of words per day and that’s what I have to get done. So if that takes me four hours and I happen to have a few hours free in the afternoon, then good for me. I’ll try to catch up on books that I’m blurbing or something like that. But, most of the time, it takes me a full day. Every single day I’m waking up and I don’t know what’s happening in the story, and I’m sitting down and I’m figuring it out, Monday through Friday, 8 to 6.”

“But then, once the first draft is done, I’ll do second, third, fourth drafts in a similar manner; I’m going to get this many chapters done today, and allot myself very strict deadlines that, most of the time, have absolutely no consequence if I break them, but I know that I’ve broken them so I stick to them. My husband’s sometimes like, ‘well, that’s a self-imposed deadline, right? So you don’t have to freak out about it,’ and I’m ‘no, I’m very serious about this self-imposed deadline!’”

This excerpt originally appeared on USA Today. Read the full interview here.

On Daisy Jones & The Six

Reid likes to write about the things she’s naturally drawn to in life, so when planning her latest novel she explored the idea of writing about musicians… a path that eventually led her to rock and roll.

When I finished my previous book, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I really wanted to continue to write about fame. I wanted to write about people in the public eye, and I just wasn’t quite sure if that was the right move. I had already done a book about an actress and I thought I wanted to write about musicians, but I wasn’t sure if I should. So I sat down and thought, well, if I want to write about musicians, what’s the story I want to tell?”

“I spent a lot of time thinking about the stories in our culture that I’m fascinated by, and those are the relationships in which the people have an incredible creative output but there is personal strife, like the band The Civil Wars, which broke up very abruptly; Fleetwood Mac; or the Eagles. There is a three-hour documentary called The History of the Eagles, which is about how they created their music but also all of the turmoil between the band members. And I was so excited about the idea that I felt it became a story I had to tell.”

This excerpt was originally published on BookWeb. Read the full interview here.

On Lessons Learned

Life is full of lessons, and Reid reveals that her biggest lesson learned is the power of confidence.

“The one [lesson] that I’m learning right now is the power that confidence has. I’m observing in other authors, in women that I admire, in every facet of life, that I respond most strongly and feel most passionately toward the work of people who are unapologetically themselves. You do not have to be perfect if you truly own what you’re doing.”

“It’s one of those clichés that you hear over and over, but for whatever reason it’s hitting me now and I’m seeing it and understanding that the strongest thing you can do is present yourself without apology. That is what I’m learning. I’m still a big apologizer, but I’m trying to get there.”

This excerpt originally appeared on USA Today. Read the full interview here.

On Flawed Characters

Writers are often told that their main characters need to be flawed and that most commercial readers appreciate them also being somewhat likeable. So is the decision to create a flawed character a risk that may result in losing readers before the character has a chance to self-improve? Here’s what Reid had to say about it:

“Ultimately, it’s about telling the truth for me more than it is about flaws or likeability. I ask myself what sort of person is most apt for the situation I want to write about and then I start to build someone who feels real, someone who feels like they could be you or me. In order to feel real, I think characters have to be flawed and they have to think of themselves as likeable – because who doesn’t know they aren’t perfect but hope that people love them anyway?”

“I strive for putting a person on the page who feels like they could be one of us out in the world – and from there, I ended up with some sort of balance between flaws and likeability. So my advice for anyone building a character is to ask yourself what traits this person must absolutely have and then what other traits can you add to balance the person out?”

This excerpt was originally published on Books By Women. Read the full interview here.

On Rejection  

We love Reid’s outlook on rejection and the powerful combination of acceptance and persistence.

The thing about rejection is that it hurts and then you get over it. And as obvious as that is to point out, that’s all you can really do to handle it. I live with the stings until they go away and I know that another sting will come and I’ll live through that one. The reward is too lovely to be deterred.”

“But this is all easier said than done. Sometimes, a project doesn’t go as far as I want or I get turned down, or someone hates my work and writes about it for everyone to see and I boil and bubble up. But it never lasts. So I just try to remind myself of that.”

This excerpt was originally published on Wild Mind Creative. Read the full interview here.

On Advice for Aspiring Writers

“You cannot let the need to be good stop you from trying,” she says. “A lot of my content is garbage when it first comes out, but I am willing to stare the garbage in the face and make it better. I know people say, ‘Good is the enemy of great.’ But great can be the enemy of starting.”

This excerpt was originally published on Wild Mind Creative. Read the full interview here.

Develop a voice that is uniquely your own, and only you can provide it,” offers Reid. “I think that if you can offer something that no one else can offer, you have something that no one else can teach, and that is the most important thing.”

“Find whatever story it is that you want to tell and whatever voice it is that you hear inside that you want to get out, and refine it to the point where you know that it is unapologetically yourself because no one else can do that. I think that’s the most exciting kind of work: work that could only be written by one person.”

This excerpt originally appeared on USA Today. Read the full interview here.

 

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