James L. Conway is the author of thriller novels such as Dead and Not So Buried, as well as a television writer.
What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?
I need to find out what's wrong. My subconscious is stopping me. Something is wrong with my story, my structure or my characters. Something my brain knows is wrong but I haven't realized yet. So I stop and reevaluate what I'm working on, tear it apart looking for the flaw or flaws. And I almost always find the culprit.
What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?
I write every morning. The same time every day. I have for twenty years. It's become a habit. Part of me. And it is so ingrained that I find it hard not to write every weekday morning at 8am. I reread my work from the previous day then dive in. I set a goal for each day, usually to finish a chapter of two, but I don't beat myself up if it takes longer than I want.
What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?
Write what you read. My mother told me that. She's not a writer or a teacher. But when I was thirteen I told her I wanted to be a writer but wasn't sure what to write. She told me to write what I read. At the time I was reading a lot of science fiction (The Time Machine, Stranger in a Strange Land) so I wrote a short story about a boy who could fly. As I got older I became a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers. I spent twenty years writing mysteries and thrillers for TV (Matt Houston, Hollywood Beat, Bodies of Evidence, Burke's Law). And then, when I sat down to write my first novel, I turned to the genre I knew and loved the best. Dead and Not So Buried is a Hollywood thriller