Connor Miller is a writer & personality currently living in Portland, Oregon. He has written novels, poetry, and web articles, and also does freelance work as a social media director for artists. He spends most of his time reading and writing in cafes around town. You can find his work at connorthemiller.com or @connorthemiller on Twitter.
What is your advice for someone setting out writing their first novel?
Finish it. Honestly, the hardest part about writing a novel is getting that first draft out. I live for deadlines. Set your daily goals, your monthly goals, and FINISH THE DAMN THING.
What did you learn after finishing your first novel?
After writing my first novel, I learned that the important thing is to make a mess, then make a better mess. Writing a bad novel will help you write a better one the second time around. It’s all about trial, error, and learning.
What did you learn through editing?
Editing is therapeutic and maddening. When editing, I learned that novel-writing is a heroic endeavor that will take a bit of your soul with it. I encourage sou replenishing activities, like hanging out with dogs or getting beers with friends.
How much of an idea do you have before you begin writing?
Sometimes it’s just a feeling I have in my heart. I’m spiritual in the sense that I try to follow my instincts and intuition when it comes to writing. When writing, it feels more like following than leading.
Do you advance your novel while you’re out working or walking around?
Yes. Always. Life is research for your novel. On the bus, I’ll imagine my characters and play with them, hang out with them. I’ll window shop and go to new places because I need to fill my characters with experiences and ideas I’ve never encountered before.
What form do you write in most? Do you write novels most?
Mostly I write novels. I used to write more poetry but I like how novels make me slow down and think in long-term ways. Like, with a novel you think “This will take me about a year” which is wild, especially when my general timescape looks more like “What will feed me in the next three days?”
What’s your writing process?
I sit and stew for a while. I fill the creative bank with angst, new experiences, meaningful time spent with friends and my environment. When I feel like I have filled myself with art, I can then churn it out on paper. It’s like fueling a train or keeping your house warm. You gotta burn something in order to keep going.
In more practical terms, I write 600-1,000 words in one location, then I move to a different cafe to write another 600-1,000 words, and I do this for as long as I can. It seems like it’s hard for me to write more than 1,000 words in one sitting. Walk breaks are good.
Do you have a different process for different forms of writing?
Yes. For poems, you gotta hunt them. Writing poetry is like waiting in the woods. You gotta be in the right place and have the right conditions to catch what you’re gonna catch. Novel writing is like building a bridge. There will be no bridge if you don’t show up to build it. You don’t hide in bushes and wait for someone to build the bridge.
What guides you in your writing? How do you pick what to follow and what to leave behind?
If I get bored while writing, something’s wrong.
Do you write every day?
Almost. Inevitably, things happen. In an ideal world, yes I am writing every day.
How many words do you write in a day and why?
When it’s not NaNoWriMo, writing at least 600 words feels good. It’s manageable. It’s a chunk.
You can find Connor Miller’s Thomas and Serious