Friday, April 13, 2012

Fast Writer: Jean Joachim

It's Friday again and that means another author giving up her secrets on writing fast! This week we have the lovely Jean Joachim. This woman makes me want to sit next to her while she writes so I can see how it's done. She can write 50K words in two and a half  weeks!! I couldn't believe it either, a book in just over two weeks--my-oh-my!
Hi, Jean,  thank you very much for agreeing to be interviewed for my Fast Writers blog series. Please tell us how you do it.

·         First, I’d love to hear about your writing day in a quick snapshot. Do you have a special time to write? Or do you grab moments whenever you can? I guess I’d like to know how structured you are.

I write full time. By six am I’m awake and at the computer, ready to start. I make a cup of tea and begin because that is the time when it is most quiet at home. I write until 8am, when I take the dog to the park for an hour, then it’s back to writing until I break for lunch. I take out time for errands in the afternoon but spend a few hours writing then, too. I’m driven by the stories and the desire to get them out of my head and onto the page. 

·         What sort of writer are you? Planner or pantser?

I began my writing career in non-fiction where you have to plan. My first book came out as almost a stream of consciousness and took a heckuva long time to organize into a cogent story. I never did that again! I’m a planner. After eleven books I’ve created a loose form I will use from now on. I call it a scene sequence. It has the month on the left and a brief list of scenes on the right. This helps pacing and plugging plot holes. Of course when my characters take over, the outline often goes to hell and the story can go in any direction!

·         Can you tell us a bit about the technique you use to help you to write quickly, and how you developed it?
There are 3 parts to writing quickly:

1) Knowing your characters. I spend a great deal of time thinking about my story before I do the scene sequence. I think about it when I’m on the bus, walking with the dog, running errands. I think about my characters, their motivation. I plan out their backstory in my head. Who are they? Where did they grow up? What was that experience like? And so on so I get to know them well so I instinctively know how they would speak. Characters and plots can roll around in my head for weeks before I write them. Maybe then I’m not so fast?

2) I do the same thing with the plot. It rolls around in my head while I look for loopholes or plot holes, as I call them. Does the plot make sense? Would this really happen? Is it possible, plausible? If not, what would make it so?  When I get the general idea for the plot in my head, I’m ready to write.

3) Uninterruped writing

Since I have the plot basically doped out in my scene sequence and my head and because I know my characters so well, I know exactly how they’d speak and what they’d say. The story rolls out of my mind and onto the page. And I stay there, stay with it until it gets done. I don’t work on any other stories. I focus on the one I want to complete. I channel the characters and live closely with them focusing only on the story and giving it as many uninterrupted hours as I can.

·         Did you always write this way? Or is your method something you picked up along the way?

This method came into being with the first romance story I wrote that was accepted for publication. By the time I sat down to write it, the story had been bouncing around in my head for several months. Then I cleared the decks, told my family I had an impossible deadline and sat down to write. Two and a half weeks later, my 48K story was finished. I edited it a couple of times, then submitted. It was accepted. Since then I find that writing the story straight through allows me to channel it and do a better job, write a better, tighter story.

·         How many words do you write per hr/writing session?

As many as I can before leaving, often in the thousands. I won’t sit down to write if I only have half an hour or less because I get so wrapped up in the story I don’t want to leave.

Another trick I use to get back into the story the next day is to reread the last ten pages. This refreshes the story in my mind and I’m able to more forward quickly.

·         How many hours per day do you write? And how many days per week?

I write seven days a week. I’m now addicted to writing and write as many hours a day as I can, often up to seven or even more if I’m totally into a story. Being able to focus and stick with it is important to writing fast.

·         How quickly can/do you finish a book?

I have finished a book in three weeks. I might be able to do it in less, for a shorter work. But 50K would take about a month or two, once I’m done editing.

·         Do you know what you're going to write each day before you start your writing sessions? For instance, do you draft the scenes/chapters you’re about to write just before you write them, or do you thoroughly outline before you even start the book (if you’re a planner, that is J)?

I often look at my loose scene sequence to see what would come next and think about it overnight. This helps me prepare for writing that scene the next day. Then rereading the previous ten pages sets the mood and gets me “in character”.

·         How do you prevent your internal editor/critic from interrupting?

I have taught myself that getting it on the page is half the battle. I am a brutal editor and slash away at my work after it’s written. But I need to shut that off while I’m telling the story or nothing will get done.

·         Do you have any more tips you’d like to share?

Writers need to write every day, to make it a habit and become addicted.  The best way to improve your writing is to write. The keys to my fast writing are discipline, focus and determination. All the prep work in the world isn’t worth a hill of beans if you can’t discipline yourself to put your butt in that chair and spend a considerable amount of uninterrupted time writing your story.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to spend time with us here today. We’d love to hear about your new book, would you tell us a bit about it?

My newest book, scheduled for release in April is Now and Forever 3, Blind Love. Although it’s the third in a series, it’s a stand-alone book. You don’t have to have read the two previous books to understand the story.

Can a handsome, charming, womanizing professor win the heart of a blind ballerina? Love comes to the university as Peter Caldwell, dashing Art History professor and accomplished pianist meets Lara Stewart, ballerina.  Peter can’t seduce with her with his devastating good looks because Lara can’t see. Obsessed with the one woman he can’t have, Peter has to learn how to love.

Sam Caldwell joins Peter, Mac, Callie and his grandchildren. Witty and attractive, Sam isn’t looking for a woman but finds love isn’t only for the young but the young at heart as well.

Small town secrets feed a blackmailer and blackmail on campus is paid with sexual favors. Blind Love is a roller coaster ride of twists and turns. This full length novel is three parts love and passion mixed with one part intrigue, stirred up with a twist of mystery and heated up to three flames.

It will be available on the Secret Cravings website soon and the major ebook retailers as well. A paperback will also follow.  

Joan: Thank you so much for this interview. It make me think more than I expected.
Monique: It was a pleasure having you, Jean.  Now where did I put my pen...I'm suddenly rather inspired! :) 

About the Author:
Jean Joachim is an author, married, a mother of two boys and owner of a rescued pug named Homer. She lives in New York City.

An English major in college, Jean always knew she wanted to write but didn’t know where to start. Non-fiction presented the best opportunities so Jean joined the corporate world of advertising and direct marketing. Working her way up the ladder, she became a Media Director, writing business plans, reports and presentations. When she started her own ad agency, she branched out into copywriting and found her niche.

The itch to write began while she was raising her children so she wrote about her experiences with school fund-raising and coaching her son’s soccer team. One article led to another and before long, she made up her mind to attempt a book. Her first book, a non-fiction work titled, “Beyond the Bake Sale, the Ultimate School Fund-Raising Book” was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2003.

Five activity books for Sterling Publishing and a book on advertising for Career Press titled, “151 Quick Ideas for Advertising on a Shoestring” followed. In 2010, fiction beckoned and with her youngest in college, Jean found the time to write “Now and Forever 1, a Love Story.” She fell in love with the contemporary romance and eight books later, she is still writing!

Jean has been writing non-fiction for over fifteen years and fiction for two. Her review column, “Movie Choices for Kids” has been syndicated in weekly and parenting newspapers and on websites for the past eleven years.

Where you can find Jean:
Jean's Website
Jean's Blog
Close [x]


  1. How productive, Jean! I write five days a week taking weekends off, but years ago, when I first started, I did write every day. But I could never work it in full time, even though I don't work outside the home. I get all my other tasks out of the way in the mornings and spend afternoon hours at my desk. Unlike you, I work on several projects at a time, so could never finish a book as quickly as you. I feel lucky if I can write 10,000 words in two weeks. And I do outline extensively before starting my first draft.

    Good luck with your new release! Sounds intriguing!

  2. Awesome tips. Love the line - addicted to writing.

  3. Amazing advice and I am so trying this! Thanks for sharing your tips with us :)

  4. Great interview, ladies. Great tips!

  5. Jean, you just changed my life...and my families access to it!

  6. Thank you so much for coming. And thank you, Monique, for having me here today. So happy to have helped others.

  7. Great post. I really like your idea of letting things kind of play out in your mind before writing them (characters, plot, etc.). Sometimes I get so excited to write that I am impatient and miss plot holes I have to go back and fix later.

  8. Yes, Toni, fixing plot holes after the fact can be difficult. But it happens to all of us. Now and Forever 3, Blind Love is coming out this month. When I first wrote that the way I wanted the bad guy to get caught didn't work. He was very slippery and it wasn't until I was well into the book before I found a way to stop Rex! lol.

  9. Cool tips, Jean!

    Thanks, everyone, for dropping by.

    Hugs x


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I greatly appreciate it! :) :)