Thank, Sylvie, for joining us today to share your personal insights on how to keep a writing practice fresh.
Question: Would you start by telling us a bit about your experience with a stale writing practice?
Answer: After writing twenty-one novels, I went through a four-year dry spell accompanied by panic attacks. One thing I needed to do was deal with competing priorities. For example, if I began my day with exercise, my mind would have time to spiral into the negative, but if I didn’t exercise first thing, then I’d never get around to it, and for me, exercise is a must for balance. I’ve revamped my practice with a little mind trick. I put on my workout clothes. Then I write for ninety minutes. Afterwards, I exercise. My mind seems to understand that if I’m wearing workout clothes, I’ll exercise.
Question: What else have you learned about keeping your writing momentum?
Answer: The main thing I learned was that productivity wasn’t so much about time management as energy management. Most of us have heard of circadian rhythms. What we might not realize is that we also have ultradian rhythms, 90-120 minute rest/activity cycles, which we ignore because of our busy lives. We work best if we give ourselves a brief rest at the end of each cycle. Using this 90-120 minute cycle has made such a difference to my practice that recently I finished my twenty-second novel and I’m halfway through a new manuscript.
Question: Those four dry years must have been terrible. What helped you get through them?
Answer: Honestly? I needed to go back to why I write. In doing so, I remembered how, growing up, reading fiction was what gave me hope, especially when I was bullied in high school. On Thursday afternoons I couldn’t wait for the bookmobile to show up in our neighborhood so I could stock up on books. If all those characters could live through all those bad experiences and end up in a better place, it gave me hope I could, too. So I, in turn, write to give hope to my readers.
More about Sylvie: Flying an eight-hour solo cross-country in a Piper Arrow with only the airplane’s crackling radio and a large bag of M&Ms for company, Sylvie Kurtz realized a pilot’s life wasn’t for her. The stories zooming in and out of her head proved more entertaining than the flight. Not a quitter, she completed her pilot’s course, earning her commercial license and instrument rating. Since then, she’s traded in her wings for a keyboard, where she lets her imagination soar to create fictional adventures that explore the complexity of the human mind and the thrill of suspense. She believes organic dark chocolate is an essential nutrient, likes to knit with soft wool, and justifies watching sappy movies by knitting baby blankets. She has written 21 novels. Visit www.sylviekurtz.com for more information.