How did you become a writer?
I don't know that I ever "became" a writer; I think I've always been in the process of becoming one.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.)
Beverly Ballard, my high school English teacher; Joan Didion, who grew up in the same area of Northern California that I did; other narrative non-fiction writers like Susan Orlean, David Samuels, John McPhee. I haven't read that many books on writing - of course, I loved Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird" and Stephen King's "On Writing." And, of course, "The Elements of Style" is something I return to once every few years.
When and where do you write?
When: Whenever I stop procrastinating. (I am very good at procrastinating.) I try to write first drafts of pieces when I feel wide awake and energetic, which is to say: Anytime after 11am. But for revisions/edits, I like to write in the very early morning. For some reason, I feel a lot looser and, perhaps strangely, sharper, in the hour or so after I've woken up. Where: Sometimes I jot down notes on my smartphone while riding the subway but that's more about ideas. The actual writing of prose usually happens when I'm sitting on my bed with my laptop in my lap. I used write at a desk with a proper desk chair and lamp and external monitor/keyboard and everything. I don't know what happened, but at some point in 2011 I took to my bed. I seem to be regressing a little.
What are you working on now?
Figuring out what my next full-time job will be, which will probably *not* involve writing but editing/working with content creators and helping them to shape different types of stories. I am full of ideas but I am also aware that I am not always the best person to execute them.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Yes. I feel like I am in a constant battle with writer's block. And it's only gotten worse the older I get. That said, I've found that two things really help in terms of getting unstuck: Taking long walks, and writing as if I'm trying to simply explain an idea or a narrative to a friend in an email. Less performance anxiety that way.
What’s your advice to new writers?
Read every day. Indulge your curiosity and sense of wonder about the world but don't shy away from examining life's uglier aspects. Ask questions — of yourself, and others. Writing is rarely easy or enjoyable, but it pretty much always ends up being rewarding.
Anna Holmes is a writer living in New York and the editor of two books, "Hell Hath No Fury: Women's Letters from the End of the Affair" and "The Book of Jezebel," based on the popular website she created in 2007. She is also a columnist for the New York Times Sunday Book Review.