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Member Spotlight: Sarah Darer Littman

author Sarah Darer Littman and an image of her book Some Kind of Hate

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Writing helps me make sense of the world. As someone who is insatiably curious, it’s the perfect career because I get to come up with a question, do a ton of research that includes speaking to smart, interesting people, and then write a book where my characters explore possible answers. I don’t write to give young people answers; rather to get them to think about the questions. I often write in multiple points of view, because seeing the same incident through different eyes helps to develop understanding and empathy. Books help readers connect to emotions and experiences, whether it be from seeing themselves reflected, or gaining greater perspective on the lived experience of others.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? As I tell my MFA students, so much of being a writer is finding ways to trick your brain to keep going when the writing gets hard. One thing that’s worked for me: Skip to a scene that you really want to write, even if that is much further ahead in the plot. Even if you end up throwing much of that scene out, you’re writing. Other remedies include: taking a walk in nature, a long shower (I often hear snippets of dialogue when I’m showering), being creative in a different format (art, music, cooking), and free writing.

What is your favorite time to write? I was a single mom when I started my career, so I learned to write any time and any where. My best time is probably in the morning after having exercised and caffeinated.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? “Get your butt in the chair and write the damn book” –Jane Yolen. That’s what it’s about, ultimately. The other concept that’s really resonated with me is Laurie Halse Anderson’s ‘Writers’ Toolbox’. It takes me at least 20,000 words into a draft to figure out what tools I need for a new project. Sometimes, what worked on one book doesn’t work on the next, so I’m always on the lookout for new tools.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? As much as I’m hoping to do more in-person school visits again, using Zoom during the pandemic allows us to connect to students all over the country, and the world. It comes down to increasing empathy and understanding and searching for ways we can bond over our common humanity, even when we might strongly disagree on issues.

Sarah Darer Littman’s Some Kind of Hate is out now with Scholastic.