Author Interview: Sofia Sawyer
What inspires you to write?
Inspiration pops up at the strangest times. Usually, while I’m trying to escape the mundane tasks of everyday life like going to the gym or washing dishes. However, music is the most consistent source of inspiration for my stories. If the lyrics are just right, my mind makes up a “music video” that goes along with the song. Then, I develop a full story from the little snippet of inspiration.
For example, I’m starting to plot a friends-to-lovers romance that was inspired by the song “Blinded” by Third Eye Blind. It popped up on my Pandora station one day at the gym and a clear vision of a story filled my mind. I just knew I had to write it.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
Sometimes the ideas for characters come first. Sometimes it’s the plot. From there, I use detailed character and plotting sheets to jot down the high-level ideas that come to mind. After that, I identify the blanks and fill it in to make the characters or plot more well-rounded.
I’ve pansted books. Then, plotted them within an inch of their lives. Now I’m looking to do something in the middle. I want to have a clear direction on where my story is going and who my characters are, but I want to offer some flexibility to let my story go where it naturally wants to go.
Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?
Sifting through the endless advice thrown at us. Write in this tense. Launch like this to be successful. Be present online. Go to this event. Read this craft book. Change your cover. Build your email list! Your blurb needs to be formatted like this. There’s a lot of well-meaning advice out there, but getting inundated with it every day makes me sometimes wonder if I’m ever doing anything right. I learned to take a step back and decide to take advice that works with my own personality and goals. Writing is an art, so I can have a bit of freedom with it.
Another thing I had to get over was comparing my work to published books. I would get so down on my writing because it didn’t seem as clever or the words didn’t sound as beautiful as the books I’d read. I realized I needed to stop comparing my drafts to finished work that had gone through endless rounds of professional edits. I remind myself that my work will also go through these edits and in the end, it will be on the same level as the books I was comparing myself to.
Lastly, back issues! I have horrible back issues and sitting tends to irritate it. Regularly stretching my hips makes a huge difference in reducing back pain.
What are your current/future projects?
I have a frenemies-to-lovers contemporary romance (Always, Ella) with an editor right now and will be meeting with a cover designer soon to go through concepts. I’m hoping to release this in summer 2020.
I’m in the process of plotting a friends-to-lovers romance based in Charleston and am trying to think of supporting characters that would turn this into a solid series. Other than that, I’m prioritizing all my story ideas to figure out which ones I want to write next. It’s tough. There’s a handful of them competing with each other. It makes me wish I could write a book in a day!
Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
I’ve gotten serious about writing these last few years and work to protect my time. Rather than set daily goals, I focus on weekly goals because it offers more flexibility to account for the unexpected things life throws at me. My goals could be hitting a specific word count, getting a synopsis to my agent, taking an online course, drafting a book outline, creating a freebie for my newsletter subscribers, building a launch plan for a new release, and so on.
Every Sunday, I identify my top three goals for the week and look at my availability, slotting in chunks of time to dedicate to them. I also wake up an hour earlier before work to write because it’s easier to let the words flow first thing in the morning before my brain turns to mush from my day job.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Stop letting people tell you that writing isn’t a viable career. There are other ways to be successful in writing other than being a novelist, and the skills built through that will only support you in your fiction writing.
Also, put yourself out there sooner and get involved in the writing community. I know it’s scary to share your work and connect with others, but you’ll quickly learn that the community is supportive and at the ready with valuable information. Your writing skills and career will accelerate so much faster if you embrace that. More importantly, being part of this community will help you feel more confident in saying that you’re a writer.
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