Debra Wallace has been in the journalism game for over two decades and has seen a lot! I’ve reached out to Debra with a few questions and ask her to reveal the secrets of her writing process. Here is what she shared.
How has your personal writing community influenced and assisted you?
A great deal. I enjoy the ideas, camaraderie and passion from my personal writing community. This includes writer friends and colleagues near and far that I can support, bounce ideas off of and celebrate our big wins. We are also there for one another during difficult issues. I never feel in competition with other writers since we all have our own niche, special talents and style, but when we share ideas, help one other when we are stuck and work together, it makes our words more powerful. Also, when I go to a writer’s event, especially PWC, I feel like I am looking at my writing with fresh eyes and that inspires me to expand my horizons.
How do you balance your writing time with the rest of your life’s responsibilities?
Balance is a funny word. Since I work at home and insist on sleeping 8 hours each night, often I feel that I write/work the reaming hours. So while I am disciplined and try to be organized, as a devoted mom of a teenage son, and someone who enjoys my friend, family, the theater, day trips and more, I work very hard to carve out enough time for myself, my son, family and friends. Sometimes it is a tough juggling act, but I often taking off time to see a movie, have a nice meal or unwind, it recharges my battery enough to make up the time the next day.
Could you share your process/routine for writing?
I write 5-6 days a week from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, with a lot of editing, fact checking, research, and some meals, phone calls, errands and meetings in between. I probably write 10-12 hours a day. Then I leave the stories to sit and marinate and the next day I will re-edit and fine-tune until I am over the moon with the story or I have reached my deadline, whichever comes first. I have started making detailed outlines, reading the transcripts for the stories and thinking of the thread that makes this a great story. I am actively looking for that ‘wow’ factor before I write the first line. Sometimes telling a friend what I am about to write about and being able to share it with them in just a few sentences helps me figure out what makes this story unique and interesting. If, after all of this, I am not inspired, I start writing and once I have something down, I can go back and make it shine.
Debra is currently writing a series of stories for Parade.com on being an “Autism mom.” She is hoping this will lead to a book on autism in the near future.
Come see Debra June 7-9 Friday-Sunday 1:30pm-2:30pm at the 2019 Philadelphia Writers Conference!