Writer’s Toolbox

Author Q&A

Here we present our exclusive collection of Q&As with a long list of illustrious authors.

Susan Breen

Susan BreenSusan Breen is the author of the novel The Fiction Class.

What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?

When I get stuck, it’s usually because of a problem with character. I haven’t developed the character well enough to give her things to do. So my best block breaker is to work on character worksheets, look through newspapers for pictures that trigger details, or read biographies, which are always a source of weird material.  The richer the character, the more options you have.

What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?

I love free writing exercises because they access a part of my brain that sometimes feels walled off. So, I try to find a very, very smooth-writing pen, one that almost skips out of my hand. I close my eyes and start to draw words. I don’t even need a topic. Once I’m holding that pen, my mind takes off.

What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?

My first writing job was as a reporter covering the North Shore of Long Island. My editor, an almost clichéd crusty sort, peered at my hand one day, nodded and said, “Real writers have ink in their veins.” I interpreted that to mean writers are a special group. We’re made differently and nothing, really, can stop us from writing.