Writing Tips We Learned From Talking to YA Author Amy Zhang

*BRB, writing a novel*
by Mara Agner   |  Oct 6, 2016
Image: National Book Store
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When Amy Zhang is not doing college work, partying with friends, or traveling, she's either writing another novel, meeting fans, or signing books. Talking to her taught us a lot about her writing process.

Write at your own pace.

"My process is so different from book to book. For Falling Into Place, I wrote every day for two hours—it was very consistent. For This is Where the World Ends, I wrote when I knew I had to write."

What works for others may not work for you. And that’s okay.

"I don't have much of a process when it comes to day to day writing. I don't have any particular writing exercises. I just like sitting down with a blank page and writing how I want this character to feel—the different things that evoke this character, the different words that make me think of them...I do usually make a rough outline so I know what's happening, but other than that, it just happens."


Do what makes you want to write better.

"I like writing in a certain setting. When I'm at home, I really like having the door closed, with the lights off and it's just my twinkle lights and some candles going. I like a calm and pretty atmosphere. I like having some coffee with me, too."

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When things get frustrating, take a breather.

"The thing is, being frustrated with your work happens to everyone. You just need to step away from it for a little bit."

There's no such thing as "'I don't have time.'"

"I revised Falling Into Place during my first year of college. My last revision was due on the day of our biggest campus all-day party. So we bring in huge bands of the year, there’s a huge concert, and it’s just a lot of fun. And I had plans with my sorority starting at 7 am and the revision was due on the same day and the night before I wasn't done. So I stayed up all night, finished at 6:30 and at 7 I went to my sorority house and started partying."


It's good to have a strong support system.

"I remember once going back to my room and seeing my best friend. Then I started crying and was like, 'This is never going to be good.' She was like, 'It will. It's gonna happen.'"

You've got to keep going.

"Every writing is rejection. When I was first querying agents, I got rejected my entire first round. So I revised my book and I revised my query and it was just like, you gotta keep going."

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Mara Agner
Assistant Lifestyle and Features Editor
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