Author Interview with Robin Jones Gunn
by Lindy Jacobs
As the new year rolls around, many of us will be reviewing the past 12 months and setting fresh writing goals. This is also the perfect time to take stock of our writing habits. Do we need to make any changes in our writing routine to make our goals a reality? How do some successful authors make it look so easy? We asked the highly productive and best-selling Robin Jones Gunn, author of more than 100 titles (two of her novellas, Finding Father Christmas and Engaging Father Christmas, have been made into Hallmark movies), to talk about some common challenges writers experience and how she goes about meeting her own writing goals. Robin didn’t begin writing until she attended a church youth group camp as a counselor and grew concerned when she saw what the girls were reading in their tent. The 13-year-old girls challenged her, saying, “If you don’t want us to read these books, you should write novels for us.” In the beginning, Robin carved out writing time by getting up at 3:00 in the morning three times a week.
Is it easier to stick to your writing schedule now than when you first began writing?
I’ve been writing for publication for more than 30 years. One thing that has never changed is that I must discipline myself to sit down and get the work done.
As a busy author, speaker, wife, and mother, do you have any advice on how to keep a regular writing schedule?
Setting a time to show up to work tends to be a big challenge for writers. When our children were young I found that my most productive time was between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. No one ever interrupted me. It was ideal. For about the first 15 years of my writing journey those were my best writing times. These days I get up at 5 a.m. at least two or three days a week and write for several hours before checking emails or starting laundry.
Every writer I know who has gone the distance and been writing for many years has admitted to me that at one time or another they still struggle with procrastination. I guess creative minds are easily distracted.
What’s the most important advice you can offer writers for sticking with their goals?
Writing is an isolating process, and that can make it easy for a beginning writer to give in to discouragement and give up way too soon. It is hard work. Once you understand that you must keep going when the initial delight is gone and the criticism is cruel, you will begin to hear that true inner voice that will keep you going.
Start telling yourself you are a professional writer and your work ethic will improve. If you don’t take your career path seriously, how can you expect others to view you as a real writer?
Some writers listen to music to prepare to write. Do you have any special routine?
The most important step in the writing process for me is to pray. Before I start each book, I always write out a prayer in letter form and I dedicate the project to the Lord. I ask for wisdom and direction, and I pray for those who will read the story one day. I’ve gone back and read many of those written prayers and have been humbled and in awe of how specifically God answered those prayers of dedication.
Keynoter Robin Jones Gunn is the best-selling author of nearly 100 titles with more than 5.5 million copies sold worldwide. Her popular Christy Miller series for teens continues with Christy & Todd: The Baby Years. Her latest in that series, Sunset Lullaby, released November 10. Robin’s passion for storytelling has taken her around the world, where she’s been a keynote speaker in Africa, Brazil, Europe, and Australia as well as Canada and the US. Robin will be the 2018 Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference keynoter.
Robin’s nonfiction titles include Victim of Grace and Spoken For, which she co-authored with Alyssa Joy Bethke. Robin and her husband have two grown children and live in Hawaii, where she continues to write in rhythm with her life verse:
“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God” (Acts 20:24 nlt).