Writer’s Desk with Ashley Clark
I’m so excited to feature Ashley Clark on this week’s writer’s desk. Ashley writes romantic women’s fiction set in the South. She has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing and enjoys teaching literature and writing courses as an adjunct professor. She’s been an active member of ACFW for almost a decade! When she’s not writing, she’s rewatching You’ve Got Mail, dreaming of Charleston, and drinking all the English Breakfast tea she can get her hands on.
Be sure to stick around until the end of the post for more about Ashley’s most recent release, Paint and Nectar, plus a chance to win a copy!
Q&A with Ashley Clark
Do you have a writing routine? When/Where do you write?
A lot depends on whether or not I’m on deadline! If I’m not on deadline and can take a more leisurely pace, I tend to write when the rest of my house is asleep, and I most often either type scenes out on my phone (I know that sounds strange, but it helps free up my creativity) or I write from the couch. Rarely will I write from a desk, although I do have plans to create a little writing nook so maybe I’ll be converted to a more traditional setup! If I am on a deadline, I write pretty much anywhere. Ha!
When are you most productive?
Typically at night. I’ve always been a night owl. I just feel like there’s something lovely that happens when the day is done and the world is quiet.
What do you snack on or drink while writing?
I usually drink tea and will sometimes let myself have a pastry treat if I’m writing from a coffee shop, but I try not to eat too much while working, or else I’d never stop munching!
How do you overcome writer’s block?
Such a good question! Writer’s block is hard and never really goes away completely. I think the best way to overcome it is with experience—knowing it inevitably comes but it also inevitably passes—and encouragement from friends and family who can remind me the feeling of writer’s block doesn’t have power over my creativity unless I let it. I’ve learned writing is a very creative endeavor, but it’s also a discipline, and if you do discipline yourself, God will give you the next thing you need for your story regardless of how inspired you feel. On a practical level, I try to overcome writer’s block by being cognizant of overthinking and instead of getting in a new headspace—going out for a short drive, watching a tv show I enjoy, or even visiting the Starbucks drive-through can sometimes work wonders.
What is your outlining process? Are you a pantser/plotter or something in between?
I used to be a total pantser until I started writing split-time stories! Now, I’m something in between, because I need to know what I’m leading up to. I typically rewrite the first chapters of any new story at least three or four times, and by that point, I usually have an idea of what the major secrets will be, what the turning points will be, and how the book will end. Then, I’ll think twenty to thirty pages at a time about how I need to get to the next major point in the story.
Best advice for someone who is just starting out.
Find your love of writing and let that—as well as God’s calling—be what sustains you. Writing is immensely rewarding, but it’s also very difficult. Learning the craft takes time, but in most cases, I’d venture to say that learning your writing voice takes even longer. Learn to be boldly authentic with your characters and even your prose—if you’re struggling with discouragement, for instance, consider creative ways your characters may have similar emotions. But beyond everything, you just have to keep going. You will be rejected. You will face ebbs and flows. It happens to everyone. If you put your hope in the industry or editors or readers, you will lose your footing. You have to fall in love with writing for writing’s sake, and let God whisper to your heart about your story. Nothing else is sufficient to sustain.
Favorite thing to binge-watch: I think my favorite thing to binge-watch will always be Gilmore Girls!
Book(s) currently reading: I’m listening to the audiobook of Feels like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey and am reading Good Hope Road which is an older Lisa Wingate story. Both of them are fantastic.
Favorite thing to order at Starbucks: My Starbucks order is always a shaken black tea… and I think it goes without saying it’s sweetened!
Enter to win a copy of Paint and Nectar*
More about Paint and Nectar:
In present-day Charleston, Lucy Legare has just inherited an old house from a mysterious benefactor, along with all the secrets it holds, including an old silver heirloom. Declan Pinckney is determined to buy the house for his family’s development company. But as Lucy uncovers secrets about the house, garden, and silver, she becomes more determined than ever to preserve the historic Charleston property, not only for history’s sake but also for her own.