When Do You Write? JOCELYN RISH

I met Jocelyn back in college when we were in the same sorority, lost contact with her for over fifteen years, then re-found her again through Facebook. We seemed to have wandered the same sort of path in our years following graduation– throwing ourselves into careers that didn’t ideally suit us (I was a lawyer, she was in software development), then ditching those careers, taking a chance, and pursuing writing full time.

The pursuit of writing is risky. It’s not as high stakes as skydiving or race-car driving, but it means following a dream that has a miniscule chance of ever coming true.

But Jocelyn has not only succeeded, she’s met success in both screenwriting and short stories. She also has a novel that has advanced a few rounds in the highly competitive Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. And she still finds time to showcase her imaginative story-telling style through her 15 Minute Tweet Tales.

I’d say leaving software development was a smart move. Because Jocelyn has instead developed a gifted creative voice, a magical style of story-telling, and a legion of fans who will read her work for years to come.


The answer to when I write is a bit of a paradox: all of the time and hardly ever.  Like many writers, I constantly generate new stories in my head.  My imagination goes into creative overdrive while showering and driving, but I’ve birthed new characters while buying groceries, crafted conversations while clipping my dog’s toenails, planned plot twists while unloading the dishwasher, and made up scenes when I should have been sleeping.

But when it comes to actually writing any of it down, I’m unfortunately plagued by a pesky procrastination problem.  The siren call of the internet/television/books/playing with the dog/whatever is always so much stronger than the whispers of my muse, so I’m rarely found at the computer writing.  I weep at the number of tales that have been reabsorbed into my brain never to be heard from again, for I’m absolutely positive every single one of them was destined to not only grace the top of The New York Times Best Sellers list, but also win a Newbery Medal AND a Pulitzer Prize. 

Over the years of fighting my couch potato tendencies, I’ve discovered a powerful weapon for battling the evils of procrastination – deadlines.  There’s something about having a firm external due date that enables me to plop my butt in a chair and squeeze a story from my brain onto the page.  I’ve written four novels during National Novel Writing Month, three screenplays during Script Frenzy, and a variety of short stories for contests with specific entry dates.

So I guess the more accurate answer to when I write is: whenever I have a looming deadline.  That’s when my creativity truly sparks to life and the words flow in feverish writing sessions that go straight through the night into the next morning.  It’s not an ideal writing “routine,” so I’ll continue to search for some true self-discipline somewhere in my lazy psyche.  In the meantime, I’m off to hunt for a new contest so I can get my latest idea out of my head and into the world.

BIO: Jocelyn Rish worked in the software industry for ten years before quitting to write full time.  She has actually used this time to showcase some truly astonishing procrastination skills. But she does occasionally write, and in 2009, her short story “Seeking a Hidden Hive” won the Highlights Fiction Contest, making a childhood dream come true when it was published in the July 2011 issue.  Her short story “Saying Goodbye” won the South Carolina Fiction Project and then later won a film production grant from the SC Film Commission. Her short story “High Heels and Hoodoo” also won a film grant.  She has a blog about her adventures making both movies, as well as her personal blog, Exploring the Magic of Stories. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook talking about her adorable and brilliant child (who just happens to have four legs and fur).

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6 thoughts on “When Do You Write? JOCELYN RISH

  1. I am the same way, Connie. At first, it used to take me a while to take my own deadlines seriously. But I’ve gotten much better at it over the years!

  2. I’ve tried making up my own deadlines, but it’s not enough of a “trick” for my sneaky procrastinating self. So far it has to be an external one, but I’m working to improve. 🙂

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