What’s the secret to my success as a writer?
(asks nobody, ever… I know, I know)
Actually, I would say I’m doing okay as a writer. I’m writing more or less full-time these days, even if it’s not all the kind of writing I love to do.
I don’t usually offer a peek behind the scenes into my writing life. However, one of the big shifts of moving to Israel has been transitioning my own identity, from being a homeschooling stay-home mom to a full-time freelance writer.
Over the years, probably the biggest hurdle I’ve cleared as a writer is learning the art of interviewing. I knew, starting out, that I couldn’t just sell my own words. Interviews make almost any type of article better and more authoritative.
Why interview? Being able to interview well opens the door to a richer, more successful writing career in a few ways:
- You can cover more topics, with experts to make your articles fascinating and well-rounded.
- You can create Q&As with well-known people in your community and beyond.
- Even if you’re writing fiction, source interviews will give your stories solid depth and authenticity.
But here’s the thing: I hate talking on the phone.
If you’re anything like me, the thought of interviewing anybody fills you with fear – let alone somebody well-known. To this day, picking up the phone (and nowadays, pulling on my headphones), still fills me with dread.
In her new book, Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson shares some advice she received from writer Neil Gaiman, which says, “Pretend you’re good at it.”
Essentially, that’s what I’ve been doing over the years… except somewhere along the line, the word “pretend” dropped off and I found I really was doing the job.
And you know, it actually started to be kind of fun.
Watching an interview with an expert on sex and disabilities, a guy in a wheelchair who happened to be Jewish, I thought of a million things I’d love to ask. I sold a Q&A to a Jewish paper in his area. I’d read a book and realize the author hadn’t explained something I wanted to know. I’d watch a TV show and discover that the host was going to be in town on a tour in a few weeks.