“Once I identified that impulse, and reasoned myself out of it, I wrote the final scene as it is now – and I felt the novel was finished,” Rooney said.
By Elizabeth Flock
Irish writer Sally Rooney says forcing a writing day almost never works. The Booker Prize-nominated author says that either she wakes up and has an initial idea, which she runs with until bedtime, or she doesn’t, and it’s best to turn her attention elsewhere.
“Conversations with Friends,” her debut novel and this month’s book club pick, began as an idea of four central characters: 21-year-old Frances, her best friend and ex-girlfriend Bobbi, and an older couple with whom they become entangled. The idea then became a short story, and then one of the biggest books of the last few years. Rooney says she only knew the novel was over once she wrote its final scene.
Below, read more writing advice from Rooney, about why she doesn’t think everybody needs to read, and listen to the album that’s on her mind right now.
1. What is your daily writing routine?
It varies. If the work is going well, I’ll usually lie in bed for a while in the morning, thinking about what I might write that day. Then after I get up, I work on and off until I go to bed. If the writing isn’t going so well, I do other things, or else I try to force myself to continue writing anyway, which never works. It’s all about the initial idea for me. If it’s there, I’ll almost always have a good day. And if it’s not, it doesn’t matter how hard I try, nothing of value will happen. I have to humble myself before the initial idea. When a week goes by without one, I feel very humble indeed. Continue reading