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Both Ways by Jennifer Starks

posted Jul 23, 2012, 7:16 AM by Scott Seldon

My guest this week is Jennifer Starks who shares some insights on her writing process.

A typical writing day for me consists of getting 500 words down no matter what. Some days are harder than others and I take days off occasionally. Messy Death was a panster project. There was a vague outline and an idea but nothing more. The first draft was all about getting to know my characters and their world. For me, this was an uncomfortable process that I’ve become humbled by. Being a panster is a creatively stimulating experience that encourages the writer to trust their characters as well as themselves.

My current WIP, Prowling for Demons, is not a panster project. There are aspects that haven’t been outlined, but for the most part I know exactly where I’m going and what plot points need to be made. This is a great feeling. There’s comfort and stability in it. I appreciate comfort and stability as much as I now appreciate the thrill of being a panster.

Many writers listen to music while they write. I go both ways. Sometimes writing in silence works best. Other times I need me some tunes. Friends of mine ask me how I can write or read listening to anything other than a quiet house. The trick for me is to:

A) listen to music that sets the mood or

B) listen to music that entertains but doesn’t distract.

I can’t have Seether or Metallica blaring while I’m composing a romantic scene just like I can’t have Adel warbling about her love during and action sequence. Pandora is my go to station. I listen to a lot of Ellie Goulding and such. Techno keeps my brain entranced without disrupting the imagination. Strange? Maybe. But a writer’s got to do what a writer’s got to do. I will say this, the commercials on this station make me irate. Truly, utterly irate. I don’t care if Obama approves this message or Skinny Girl Cocktails are awesome. I’m trying to pen my worth. Stop talking to me!

Currently, I’m editing my debut novel, Messy Death. It’s a process that’s much harder than expected. I’m averaging about a chapter a day. To be honest, it doesn’t seem like enough, but slow and steady wins the race. (Grumble, grumble.) I find myself more taxed after a round of editing than writing. When I finished chapter one, I needed a day off. Now that I’m done with chapter two, I could use another one.

Can someone tell me why I’m so drained? Is this normal?


Jennifer Starks has been writing since the tender, but still wise beyond her years, age of eight. She gets giddy at the thought of visiting a bookstore, loves that good ole Library smell, is most at home on the couch reading or at her desk writing. She adores her children (though they make it entirely difficult to keep any kind of writing schedule) and is humbled beyond belief to have a mother who fostered her love of the arts and a husband who supports the lifestyle even when it means listening to her type at 5 AM. Messy Death will be Jennifer’s debut novel. Updates on its progress can be found at

Twitter: @princessjen20           


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