NaNoWriMo Guest Blogger and Local Author: Hurley Winkler

Friday, November 3, 2023

NaNoWriMo Guest Blogger: Hurley Winkler

#Insights from a Local Author

For National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), we asked a few of our recent Lit Chat and Writer's Lab alumni to answer a few questions about their writing process.

Our first guest blogger is Hurley Winkler, a writer and a lifelong resident of Jacksonville. Her fiction and nonfiction work has appeared in Hobart, Neutral SpacesThe Millions, and elsewhere, and she interviews writers and musicians for The Creative Independent and WJCT's Jacksonville Music Experience. She's also the creator of Lonely Victories, a Substack community for writers and readers, where she facilitates the Book Club for Writers and teaches online writing workshops. 

#Q&A with Hurley Winkler

How do you decide what to write about?

If I can't stop thinking about something, I'm going to write about it! Personally, I have a harder time deciding what not to write about. I always have too many competing ideas.

What are your first steps when starting a new writing project?

I like to open a notebook and get all of my ideas down, as well as my questions. This notebook writing is for me only, and sometimes, it's not even in complete sentences. A lot of time, it's just figuring out logistics before I start writing a draft. My chicken-scratch handwriting will say things like, "There are ten girls at the party and the protagonist only knows two of them," or, "Brewery setting = near the water?" At an early stage, I just want to keep my pen moving so I can start seeing the story more clearly and make connections between character, setting, and plot.

Do you have any specific writing habits or tools that have helped you?

Five days a week, I write at the same time every morning. The writer Chelsea Hodson hosts a writing accountability group on Zoom called the Morning Writing Club, and that's when I have my writing time. I really need accountability in order to get anything done, and learning to embrace that need rather than being ashamed of it has helped me a lot. I also like to set timers and see how many words I can write before the timer runs out.

How early do you start revising? Do you wait until you have a first draft?

I hate drafting and love revising, so I try to get the first draft done as soon as I can. For the novel I just finished writing, I wrote the first draft in six weeks. The reason I hate drafting so much? I get overwhelmed by all the possibilities and the lack of trial-and-error, so I write quickly in order to start narrowing things down.

That said, there are many writers who work much more methodically than I do on their first drafts, and they'll take many years to write it, but they have less work to do in revision. I am just not that way. If I tried to write that way, I would never, ever write a thing.

Are there any books on writing (or publishing) that you’d recommend?

How has the Library helped you on your writing journey?

I grew up in Jacksonville, and the Jacksonville Public Library has always been my happiest place. I put books on hold constantly—there is always a giant stack waiting for me on the shelf at the Beaches Branch Library—and I use the Libby app every day to listen to audiobooks. The library has made it possible for me to engage with books as often as I want, and I am so grateful that it's part of my life!

Need Advice on Editing?

Writer's Lab with Hurley Winkler: Novel Revision TacticsPutting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is just the first step! Find out how to make your words sparkle, shine, and start looking more like a finished novel! Join local author Hurley Winkler on Tuesday, November 14 at 6:30 p.m. at Beaches Branch Library to learn some tried-and-trusted Novel Revision Tactics at our next Writer's Lab workshop! You'll walk away with a stronger revision plan for your book-length project as well as renewed energy and inspiration.

Register now!