Making Space for Writing: 5 Questions for P.J. Hoover

“If your writing life feels like it’s not working out the way you want it to, don’t give up. Instead, take a step back and ask yourself what you can do differently. What change(s) can you make that can positively influence the future?” -P.J. Hoover

P. J.  Hoover wanted to be a Jedi, but when that didn’t work out, she became an electrical engineer instead. After a fifteen year bout designing computer chips for a living, P. J. started creating worlds of her own. She’s the award-winning author of The Hidden Code, a Da Vinci Code-style young adult adventure with a kick-butt heroine, and Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life, featuring a fourteen-year-old King Tut who’s stuck in middle school. When not writing, P. J. spends time practicing kung fu, fixing things around the house, and solving Rubik’s cubes. For more information about P. J. Hoover, please visit her website www.pjhoover.com.

On Saturday, September 24th, P.J. Hoover is teaching a class for the WLT called “Strategies for Staying the Course. In this class you’ll learn strategies for managing time and working through challenges to keep writing.

Here’s what P.J. had to share with us:

Scribe: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you write? How did you come to writing?

P.J. Hoover: I came to writing a bit late in life. I was an engineer for 15 years, loving my job. But then, after giving birth to my second kid, I started thinking about what else I could do with my life. I loved engineering, but it didn’t give me as much time with my kids as I wanted. I’d always been an avid reader, loving all sorts of SFF, so I decided to start creating worlds of my own.

I started writing, an hour a night, and I found that I loved the routine. I looked forward to being able to express my creativity, and as the words and pages started to accumulate, I was inspired to keep writing. As for what keeps me going with it, I love connecting with readers. There is no better feeling than having someone tell you how much they loved reading one of your stories!

Scribe: In your own work, how do you approach overcoming the challenges that come with writing, be it writer’s block or craft or business-related challenges?

PJH: Writing can be hard. Discouraging. Sometimes it seems impossible to get a book published, especially when so much of the traditional path is controlled by gatekeepers. I’ve found a huge amount of satisfaction in taking control of what I can. I love traditional publishing, but I can’t hinge all my happiness and dreams on it. So now, in addition to traditional publishing, I do a variety of other things to help me feel like I’m taking control of my life. I self-publish, doing all aspects from layout to cover design. I edit manuscripts for other authors, loving seeing the creative stories people are coming up with. I write science curriculum articles for elementary schools, nerding out on cool science facts that I never knew. I teach classes, helping others who are struggling with time management, goal setting, and staying motivated.

But that’s just the writing stuff. I also enjoy life. I exercise nearly every day. I work around the house on home improvement. I spend time with family and friends. Balance is the key to everything!

Scribe: Has there been a moment of epiphany in terms of your work, when you thought, “This is it! Now I know what I’m doing?” How long did that feeling last?

PJH: Yes! This truly happened for me after I wrote my first book, The Emerald Tablet. While writing, I didn’t share the book with anyone. I wrote and wrote. Then I revised the best that I could (which was not that well at the time). I had a handful of people read it to give me feedback. I had a critique group. But it wasn’t until I got a professional edit that the lightbulb finally went on. All of a sudden, I could see what I needed to do to make my story better. The editor showed me how to streamline the plot, how to give voice to the characters, how to show not tell. It was eye-opening! Since that first edit, I’ve been using what I learned, honing my craft, and hopefully continually improving.

Scribe: What piece of advice do you find yourself giving to writers again and again?

PJH: This is always a hard one because there are so many good pieces of advice. But for this one, I’d say that if your writing life feels like it’s not working out the way you want it to, don’t give up. Instead, take a step back and ask yourself what you can do differently. What change(s) can you make that can positively influence the future?

Scribe: What is one thing that people will take away from this class?

PJH: Honestly, my hope would be that anyone who takes the class will walk away motivated for the future. I want attendees to have fresh ideas for how to take control of their lives. I want attendees to not feel like the future is hopeless and everything is out of their control. I want attendees to be inspired and excited!

Thanks, P.J.!

Click here to learn more about P.J. Hoover’s upcoming class.


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