Jacquelyn Mitchard is the author of the novels What We Lost in the Dark, Second Nature, and Ready, Set, School!
What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?
I use the same method as Winston Churchill did: I keep on writing. He said, when you are going through hell, keep on going. To tell the truth, though, I've never experienced writer's block. That would require slowing down.
What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?
Before my MFA studies, I took one writing course, the freshman elective at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. I was sixteen. The instructor was the great Mark Costello ('The Murphy Stories') and he gave us a workbook of quotes from writers that varied from Raymond Chandler to Katherine Ann Porter. We copied paragraphs that they had written and then wrote paragraphs in the way they had written them. I still do this when I admire a writer. It's like fixing my own wiring.
What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?
My mentor, Ray Bradbury, who died in June, told me to name myself a writer long before anyone else did. I may sometimes have a problem calling myself an "author," as that sounds a bit august, but I'm a writer. I write stories.