Abbi Waxman

How did you become a writer?

I had always written, and was constitutionally incapable of much else.  I graduated from college with a degree in Anthropology (excellent degree for nosy people who want to stick their beaks into other people's motivations) and went into advertising. It seemed like a good choice: I spent all day writing, I could wear jeans and get drunk at lunchtime and no one cared if I swore like a long distance trucker. Perfect, really. I did that for many years, and I definitely recommend it as excellent training for any professional writer, because your work gets thrown away constantly, and you get very blasé about it. 

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

My mother was a murder mystery novelist, so she was my greatest influence, largely because I saw it being done every day. It seemed highly attainable, pleasant work, with very little risk of personal injury.

When and where do you write? 

Early mornings, in a coffee shop near my house. Ideally I go straight to work as soon as I wake up, but as I have three kids my work is often pre-empted by pretty much anything else.

What are you working on now? 

My fourth novel. I'm still in the honeymoon stage where it's going to be the greatest thing I've ever written, largely because I've barely started. It's all downhill from here.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? 

Yes, of course. I try to think of it not as a block but as a self-imposed period of reflection. I clearly don't know what to write next, so my brain unplugs my hands so I don't type a load of shit I'll need to throw away later. Sometimes I push through and write a load of shit anyway, and sometimes that works and sometimes it just complicates matters. I find writers block usually means I'm trying to either do too much with the story or not enough, but don't quote me. It's painful, but it's not like I'm a child soldier in Rwanda, so I try to keep things in perspective. 

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Wear layers. It's easy to get cold when you're sitting still.

What’s your advice to new writers?

You mean apart from wearing layers? Don't take yourself too seriously. Take the work seriously, take the time to do it everyday, but don't get all bent out of shape about being a struggling artist. If the pleasure doesn't outweigh the pain then stop, for goodness sake. Life is too short. Oh, and disconnect from the Internet; that bugger will distract the living daylights out of you.

Abbi Waxman is a writer who learned her craft writing the ultimate fiction: corporate advertising. After working for a variety of ad agencies in London and New York, she quit her paying job to raise three kids and write novels. One of those things turned out to be a lot easier than the other. She lives in Los Angeles with her daughters, three dogs, two cats, seven chickens and one very patient husband.