- Tell Us About yourself.
I’m a proud native of West Michigan but find myself exploring places from caves in Peru and volcanoes in Guatemala to the gorgeous coast of California. Northern Michigan has some great places to hike if you want to stay in state!
I freelance as a Marketing Content Writer and love this because I get a wide variety of companies needing content for their websites. It’s a great learning experience because I’ve dealt with brands that were first dreamed up in the fields of Jamaica, to a top of the line writing/branding company, to nonprofit and photography businesses. I love meeting these different people and exposing myself to jobs I didn’t even know existed. I graduated in December with a degree in Strategic Communications, and this degree has really prepared me for the work I’m doing now. It’s been really cool to see how it’s all working out!
- Who Is Your Favorite Author/Book And Preferred Genre?
It’s really important to me to read widely because I never want to get stuck in a rut. That being said, I never really stick to one genre. I enjoy most genres and am usually reading several at once. Of course, I love reading the bestselling fiction, and honestly reading The Hunger Games really helped me grow as a writer. But the week I finished college I grabbed Martin Luther’s biography. I’m still working through it because I never really read one book at a time. Eric Metaxas is a phenomenal writer though and makes what could be a really big, boring book actually really fascinating.
- How Did You Start This Journey To Becoming A Writer?
You could stay I started in third grade, but I didn’t get serious about writing until high school. I wrote short stories a lot and halfway through high school decided to write a full-length manuscript to challenge myself. I didn’t realize that personal challenge would bring so many questions from people around me! Everyone thought I suddenly wanted to be a writer, but I was convinced I was too extroverted to sit at a desk all day. Thankfully I totally didn’t get what “being a writer” really was. In college I had the privilege of getting coffee with a New York Times bestselling author, and she told me writers actually have to do a lot of speaking too. That helped change my mind, so I guess you could say that conversation convinced me!
- What Have You Written So Far?
Like I said, I wrote a bunch of short stories until about sophomore year of high school. Then I took a year and wrote my first fiction manuscript between classes. After that I wrote my first nonfiction which was way harder than I thought it’d be. I thought it’d be easier. No way. Good experience though!
In college I did a conglomeration of writing. Screenplays, radio bites, pretty much anything you can write I wrote. One of my radio pieces was aired, so that was really cool. I blog/guest blog regularly. On my own website I stick to several main categories, but when I guest blog I blog whatever I’m asked to. Definitely a good growing experience for sure. Then last summer I was chosen to beta test author Jerry Jenkins’ new writing course, and to do that I had to write another book. So that was my third full-length manuscript. Super happy with how it turned out. It took a ton of work.
- Tell Us About Your Current Book/What Was Your Inspiration For It?
The inspiration for my third book came in a social media class actually, so I told my professor if I get published it’s all because of him. The book’s about status and kind of talks about what defines humanity. It’s set in the potential near future, and has a lot of action so if you’re looking for a thriller, grab my book if/when it comes out!
- Who Is Your Favorite Character/What Sets Your Book Apart?
Man, I don’t think I could pick a favorite. It’s like trying to ask me to pick my favorite movie. There’re too many good ones! I’m always really passionate about whatever character I’m writing at the moment, and the most recent one was a girl about my age. It’s way easier to write what I know so I try to keep my main characters about my own age.
- Is There A Part Of You In Your Character?
Just like there’s part of an actor in any character they play, I think there’s definitely part of a writer in the characters they write. Ideas come from someone’s personal viewpoint, and everyone views things a little differently. That’s what sets books apart too.
The movie Dunkirk came out several months ago and one thing I really loved about it was the different perspectives of the characters. That’s something I really appreciated about Spielberg. He captured what happened at Dunkirk by focusing on how several different people saw it. We had the privilege of seeing Dunkirk through different eyes. And when it comes right down to it, that’s how writing is. We each see life a little differently and that unique perspective is what sets books apart.
What sets my book apart is I took the idea of the culture I live in (which is millennial, social media, etc.) and pretty much put it on steroids in a different country. Then I basically took all the communication theories I’d studied and people I’d met and shook it up and put it back together in a completely new way. That way every scene is based off of the reality I know, and hopefully it will come across more authentic.
8. What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Book And What Was The Hardest Part To Write?
There was one scene I had in mind from the very beginning and I was excited to get to that point. It’s cool to get an idea in a college class and work hard enough that you get to the point where you’re able to see different scenes coming together. It was definitely a great moment to realize wow, I’m writing that scene I had the idea for months ago.
The hardest was just the late nights I guess. Because I was writing the book for Jerry’s course and he made us all set a deadline, I’d also set a certain amount of time to write and knew I needed to stick with it. I was also a full-time student and working.
Before Jerry was a famous writer he said he wrote 9pm-12am, so I figured if I wanted to be successful I should too. It’s hard to write when you’re tired, but thankfully I got to edit the next day! Some of those edits were a little rough.
- Why Do You Want to Be a Writer?
I briefly mentioned this before, but I actually never really wanted to be a “writer.” I wanted to write, but I really wanted to interact with people because that’s where I thrive. Writing was something I just kind of did on the side when I got an idea. I went to some writing conferences though and got great feedback, and then publishing houses started requesting my manuscripts and agents started getting interested in me. I was creating events/speaking a little at this point too and realized I could combine it all. Writing is a really powerful medium, and it’s amazing how much it can impact. Thankfully now I understand writing and speaking go hand-in-hand, so I’m definitely pursuing both right now.
Right now I’m really focused on growing in the different talents I have and becoming the best I can be.
It’s one thing to like doing something, it’s another thing to be talented at something. It only takes desire to like doing something, but it takes work and long nights to get to the point where you’re really talented at something.
Jesus gave me a desire to write, and it’s really important to me that I use that desire for him, 100%, the best I can. Jerry’s an amazing writing mentor and has helped bring my desire into a little more of the talent area. I still have a long way to go!
The cool thing is how everything fits together. Because my number one goal is to use my life for Jesus, and he wants me to do that by using the desires he’s given me, I get to spend time growing those desires into talents. Ultimately I think I just want to be a creator because my dad is the Creator of the world. You could say it’s in my blood.
- How Do You Get Your Ideas?
In a 1999 interview J.K. Rowling said, “Well if I knew I’d go and live there!” I’d have to second that opinion. Honestly, I got a lot of ideas in my freshman history class. Now that I’m out of college I’ll have to think up another way! Just kidding. I did actually get so many ideas in class though I had one notebook for class notes and one for book ideas.
I get ideas from everyday life. I see a great movie and it sparks an idea. I have a conversation with a friend and the way they phrase something gets me thinking. Asking “what if” is a great place to start. That’s how I plotted my most recent fiction manuscript. I got an idea in class and thought well, what if_____? And 13 months and one degree later, I had a book.
It’s not as hard as a lot of people think. Being creative isn’t something that happens or doesn’t happen. Like working out, it’s a muscle you have to choose to grow. Sit down and type for ten minutes. Set one is done. Type another ten minutes. Set two.
If you’re ok with failing then pretty much anyone can be a writer. If you’re ok with putting your heart into words and letting people critique and edit it until the pages are red, you can be a writer. If you’re ok with acting like the writer you want to be, even from day one when your page is blank, then you’re going to crush that imposter syndrome and finish your book! Nike’s slogan is perfect: Just Do It.
11. How Do You Write?
Writing is more of a decision than an inspiration. Obviously, people write because they’re inspired, but many times when I go to write it’s not because I’m feeling particularly or creatively inspired. I’m inspired to meet a deadline! I’m inspired to do what I said I’d do. But it really just takes sitting down and hitting some keys to do what people call “writing.” Then you do it the next day. And the next. Until the book is done. That’s the hardest part, sticking with it when it’s the last thing you want to do.
One of the best lessons I’ve learned from Jerry Jenkins (Left Behind) is that writing is a choice. Just like I choose to get up and drive to work, I choose to stay up and write books.
That being said, for me writing isn’t always toting my computer everywhere I go. Yeah, I often take it with me in case I have a free minute, but a lot of my process comes just by living life.
12. What Do You Have Planned Next:
Working, of course! I love all my side jobs so that’s helpful.
But as far as writing/career stuff goes…editing. I’m always editing I feel like. No, actually I just met my last deadline so I’m close to being done with one book! Then I need to finish the proposal and send it in.
Always blogging though. Guest blogging. Blogging on my own website. Reading a lot. Listening to a bunch of podcasts. Watching interviews. Just growing in the industry really.
Right now I’m sending my manuscripts in to the different houses who requested them, and reaching out to the different agents who expressed interested in working with me, building my platform, all the good stuff.
Basically what’s next is hustling!
Contact Sarah at http://www.itssarahrexford.com/