Anna Stevenson

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What is your most recent writing project? Or, what is a piece you’ve had published recently? 

My most recent writing project is another romance novel. I write romance novels exclusively and sell them on Amazon's platform. I would include a link but I don't do self-promotion under my real name.

What’s your favorite thing someone else has said about your writing?

That they loved it so much they stayed up all night to get to the end of the story.

What is one craft or writing book you love?

Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes. Story Engineering by Larry Brooks.

Who is one other writer you’re excited about right now?

I'm always excited about Audrey Niffenegger. My friend Jill Kolongowski is also an obsession of mine, writing-wise. She is a real pro.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten? What’s the best?

"Just write from the heart." That's the worst, I think, if you intend to tell a story in genre fiction. You have to know the genre, and how to do story. The best advice? Always keep reading. 

Do you have a dedicated work space? Do you write in your home or do you prefer to write elsewhere? Can you write while traveling?

I write mainly in my bed, because I don't have an office chair. . .or a free desk. I sometimes write in the public library. I write while traveling all the time, out of necessity. A separate office is an actual fantasy of mine. What would it be like to have a desk and a chair in a separate room from where I sleep? What would it be like to have a lock on the door? Soundproofed walls?

What are some of your writing habits? (Do you write at a particular time? Do you write every day?, etc.)

What is the meaning of "writing habits" when you have two young children? I write whenever I can. The time when my mind is most calm is when it's late at night, which is awful, but in a few years they'll be older and I can revert to my normal sleep/write patterns. But yes, I write most days. Them's the breaks when you need a novel per month, and sometimes more.

When you are sitting down to write, what is the first thing you do?

Check other stuff. Being an author in this sense means that I must also handle advertising, interacting with fans, and generally building a community that's all focused on yours truly. So I try to get that out of the way. I also talk to my writer friends. None of this is "writing," but it's how I stay sane/profitable.

How do you pay the bills/financially support yourself?

By writing. I don't have another job. If I don't write books, or if the books don't sell, I do not get paid.

When in your life have you felt your work/life balance to be most in sync? When in your life have you felt the most out of sync?

I am out of sync right now. I am constantly battling the intense need to spend time with my daughters (ages two years and three months old) and the need to write upwards of 100,000 words per month. I stay up way too late and I get up too early. Not a day goes by when I'm not working, even if I'm not writing that day. Book launches are a special kind of heaven and hell, and they happen every month.

What are the most pressing demands for your time, energy, labor (including emotional labor)? What has worked best for you in terms of balancing those demands with writing?

My family. They need to be with me; I need to be with them. After that, I need to go running. What works best (or works, anyway) is to have mega-marathon days where I write a shitload in three or four days so that I can spend time with them while they're awake. Sustainable? Not in the long run, but I'll get ahead. . . someday.

What are the ideal conditions for your creativity?

Quiet. (Imagine that.) I need a half an hour or so before I can get in the mindset where words come quickly. And they must come quickly, if I am to survive as an independent publisher. 

Do you have any writing rituals? Or any non-writing rituals that feed your writing life?

I run every day.

What self-care practices do you have and what, if any, routines do you have surrounding them? How does self-care relate to your writing life?

As far as self-care goes. . .I don't know. I read a few chapters of a book when I can. I run every day. My husband bears the brunt of the childcare work because of the immense time-sink it is to be a self-published author. I take long showers. And sometimes I blow off everything and watch Twilight (or The Office, or Parks & Rec, or standup comedy. Ali Wong is my current favorite). 

Anna Stevenson writes romance novels under a variety of pen names.