Writer’s Desk with Jerusha Agen
I’m so excited to have Jerusha Agen featured on this week’s writer’s desk. Jerusha Agen imagines danger around every corner but knows God is there, too. So naturally, she writes suspense infused with the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ.
With a B.A. in English and a background in screenwriting, Jerusha is a speaker, writing instructor, and Fear Warrior who sounds the call to battle against fear in our everyday lives.
Jerusha loves to hang out with her big furry dogs and little furry cats. You’ll often find her sharing irresistibly adorable photos of them in her newsletter and on social media.
Be sure to stick around until the end of the post for more about her most recent release, Rising Danger, plus a chance to win a copy!
Q&A with Jerusha Agen
Do you have a writing routine? When/Where do you write?
I used to have a scheduled writing routine, but then…I got a puppy. 🙂 Until he grows up a bit more, my writing routine consists of grabbing snippets of time between his naps or brainstorming in my head while keeping him from getting into trouble. I’m sure moms of young kids can relate! But when I do sit down and write, I do so in my home office.
My preferred writing schedule is to get 1.5 to 2 hours in before lunch, take a break to eat/email/check social media, and then get back at it for another 2-3 hours. I’m at my most productive when I can do that, so I hope to return to my schedule soon.
When are you most productive?
I’m naturally a night owl, so you might think I’d do my best writing at night. But nighttime is instead when I need to recharge my creative batteries by watching a movie, reading a book, and relaxing. So, despite not being a morning person, my creativity seems to be at a peak during the morning hours, as long as I’ve gotten enough sleep the night before.
What do you snack on or drink while writing?
I drink hot water in a fun mug from my mug collection and snack on chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I’ve found the best way to overcome writer’s block is to talk through the problem or scene with a brainstorming partner. My mom is my best brainstorming partner, so I usually turn to her when I get stuck. By voicing the difficulties and bouncing ideas back and forth, we can usually obliterate that block very quickly!
What is your outlining process? Are you a pantser/plotter or something in between?
A plotter! I used to write more panster-ish when I first started out, but then I discovered three things: I don’t want to rewrite, I want to write as fast as I can, and an outline can help me achieve both those goals.
My outlining process always starts with character. I decide who my main character or characters are going to be and identify his/her main issue. I drill down past the external motivations and emotional problems to dig to the deepest point—his/her spiritual issue, the view of God that is causing and informing his/her greatest fear and desire. Once I identify that core issue for a character, I can then determine what his/her epiphany and black moment will look like.
I find that if I figure out those key elements first, then the plot, scenes, and other aspects of the story are easier to generate because they’re all originating from and contributing to the character’s emotional and spiritual journey.
Best advice for someone who is just starting out.
Remember your why. Being a professional writer is not for the impatient or the faint of heart. You will face many obstacles, disappointments, and discouragements along your path. The only way you’ll keep going no matter what is if you remember why you want to write or, better yet, why you’re supposed to write.
If you’re a Christian who has been called by God to write for His purpose, then you have an indestructible why. If He has called you to this writing profession, He has also gifted you, made a way for you, and determined you will be successful as a writer. Does that mean you don’t need to pursue education in your craft, work hard, and seek out connections? Or that you will automatically be a bestselling author? Of course not. But it does mean that He has done the hard work for you—all you have to do is be obedient to use those gifts He’s given you, to write your heart out for the Lord, and to trust Him for the results He has planned (which will be real success, even if they don’t match the idea of success you had in mind).
Remembering this why—you write because God called you to write and has a purpose for your writing—will keep you and your writing strong through all the challenges of the writing life.
Favorite thing to binge-watch: Mystery 101 episodes
Book(s) currently reading: Becoming Elisabeth Elliot by Ellen Vaughn and Edge of Peril by Christy Barritt
Favorite song right now: “It Is Well with My Soul” (hymn by Horatio Spafford)
Favorite thing to order at Starbucks: I’m not a coffee or tea fan, so when I go to Starbucks, it’s for the Caramel Apple Spice (cider)!
Enter to win a copy of Rising Danger*
More about Rising Danger:
It’s up to a K-9 handler and her canine partner to stop a bomber before it’s too late.
Someone’s planting explosives on dams in the Twin Cities, and Bristol Bachmann and her bomb-sniffing dog must move quickly to find them before everything ends up underwater. That means relying on the dams’ supervisor—an ex-boyfriend Bristol never thought she’d see again. Hopefully, Remington Jones has grown up from the rakish charmer she knew in her academy days. Because lives now depend entirely on them…
It’s an environmental terrorist who wants the dams gone, and his bid to set the waters free has lethal consequences. When he sees Bristol and her K-9 working to stop him, he sets his sights on them. Can they evade him in a lethal game of cat and mouse and protect the cities from devastating destruction before the clock runs out?