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Member Spotlight: Jeffrey James Higgins

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world?

Fiction has always ignited my imagination and transported me to different times, places, and circumstances. I remember my parents reading stories to me at bedtime and my first attempts at writing fiction with crayons. Humans have the amazing ability to imagine themselves inside the tales they read, and that capacity has always comforted and excited me. Novels are more than escapism; they are a way to escape boredom, learn about the world, and experience adventures from the safety of our homes. Story, in all its forms, has always been an integral part of my life.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? I’m happy to say I’ve never experienced writer’s block. I have hundreds of stories I want to tell, and my problem has been finishing what I start before moving to the next exciting project. Maybe the reason I don’t get stuck when writing is because I outline my plots and character arcs before I begin. Thinking through the major plot points of a story before typing is a wonderful way to avoid writer’s block. I allow myself the freedom to add or delete scenes and characters but knowing where my story is headed has been a lifesaver.

What is your favorite time to write? Ideas come to me on walks, in the shower, and when I am drifting off to sleep. I jot notes to myself throughout the day, but my favorite time to write is in the early morning after I’ve had at least one cup of coffee. Caffeine is fuel for creativity. I am most productive for the first four hours of the day, then I turn my attention to the business of writing. Hitting my word count before lunch keeps my productivity high.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? The best writing advice I ever received was to turn off my internal editor when writing a first draft. I tell myself no one will read a draft until it’s ready, and that allows be to unleash my imagination and write with abandon. It’s easier for me to create a cohesive narrative when I don’t stop to edit. I usually complete a first draft in five or six weeks, and then I begin the long process of editing my structure, character arcs, and prose. I recommend this process for any writer who has trouble finishing a manuscript.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? This is the best time on history to be a writer. It’s never been easier to get stories in front of readers. Computers make writing and editing seamless, and the internet allows writers to publish stories around the world. On the flip side, the ease of publishing has resulted in 2.5 million new ISBNs issued each year, and many more digitally self-published books. It may be easy to publish, but it’s harder to stand out. The consolidation of publishers under the Big Five houses has also made it more difficult to publish traditionally. Luckily, independent publishers have started to earn a larger share of bestsellers and prizes. I’m optimistic about the future of writing.

Jeffrey James Higgins’s Furious: Sailing into Terror is out now with Black Rose Writing.