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Member Spotlight: Jill Ocone

author Jill Ocone and an image of her book Enduring the Waves

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? I’ve been a lifelong writer and have journaled every day since I was very young. I’ll never forget the moment in high school when those entries turned from bland news-type reports of my day to an outlet for my feelings. That was a turning point, and writing has helped me cope with life’s intricacies ever since. My words can create a different world for readers to ignite their imaginations or provide a source of light in an otherwise dark place. Words combine to create sentences, just like individuals combine to create community.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? Writer’s block is a real nuisance. When I find my mind going blank, I find something in whatever room I am in and describe it using as many words and sensory details as possible. Another trick that works for me is to take a few sentences from something I’ve already written and rewrite it using a different point of view, a different verb tense, and/or different words.

What is your favorite time to write? I am a morning person and produce my best work before noon. On weekdays, I arrive to my job site early so I can write before going about my work day. On weekends, I write in the morning hours for as long as my schedule for the day allows. I also find pockets of time during the day to journal and free write. It’s incredibly satisfying whenever I get lost in writing and don’t realize time slipped away from me.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? There’s an old adage that says you cannot edit a blank page, so write. Write even the most simplest of sentences, scribble them if you have to, without worrying about form, continuity, grammar, or repetition. You can fix all of that when you edit, but if the words don’t exist, you have nothing to edit. And don’t beat yourself up, either, if you can’t write every day. Just write when writing serves your “right now” self, and the rest will take care of itself.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? I look at all of the books on the shelves in my local library or my favorite book store, but they are devoid of the unique stories that live inside my mind. With dedication and discipline, I can give life to new characters and create a world around them that does not exist in any other book.

Jill Ocone’s Enduring the Waves is out now with The Wild Rose Press.