Continuing our conversation with author Jason Boyett, formerly an award-winning creative director, graphic designer, and advertising copywriter. His books include Pocket Guide to Adulthood and Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse, as well as the brand-new Pocket Guide to the Bible (Relevant).
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HOW MANY BOOKS DO YOU READ A MONTH?
I depends on whether or not I’m on deadline. My writing projects (condensing 2,000 years of eschatology into a small, user-friendly book, for example) are fairly research intensive. So if I’m under contract and facing a deadline, I’m generally reading/skimming/browsing 15-20 books a month, all related to the subject.
When I’m reading for fun and not under the pressure of a looming contract deadline, I’ll go through about a book a week, whether it’s theology, non-fiction, or purely escapist fiction.
WHAT ARE YOUR WRITING HABITS?
When I started this book-writing thing, I promised myself that I’d try not to let writing take the place of any time I’d spend hanging out with my children. (I have a six-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son.) So I write at night after they go to bed and in the morning before they wake up. This means I get in about three hours of writing a day, 10 p.m. to midnight and 6 to 7 a.m. I revise as I write, so generally I end up with a draft ready to deliver to my publisher.
ARE YOU AN "OUTLINE" WRITER OR A "MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO" WRITER?
I always have all the chapters settled when I begin, but I generally make things up as I go within each chapter. Of course, the kinds of books I write are very much driven by the chapter content—my new book has a glossary, a cast of characters, a biblical plot summary, with chapters dedicated to each of those. So I’ll decide on the fly which characters get included in the chapter about biblical characters, but I’m still operating within a larger outline.
If I were a novelist, I’d definitely have to work from a detailed plot outline. I wrote a novel after graduating from college. The overall concept was good, I think, and the actual writing wasn’t too terrible, but the plot—which I improvised on a day-to-day basis—was just really, really dumb. Next time I write a novel, I’m scripting the whole thing out in advance.
ARE YOU A FULL-TIME WRITER?
No. I’d like to be, and perhaps could be if I supplemented my books with a lot of freelance advertising work—I have a background as a creative director and copywriter—but I’m not quite ready to do that nail-biting, paycheck- to-paycheck thing. I know too many writers juggling multiple contracts at once trying to make it work, and I’m way too lazy for that. I’m too comfortable. So until I hit it big, this is just a hobby.
WHAT IS YOUR DAY JOB?
I’m the communications director at a large church in Texas. I write/ design/produce all of our publications, literature, advertising, website, video, etc. I took this job after five years in the advertising industry as a writer, designer, and creative director. I got burned out by the long hours and downsized my career a bit to work at the church—which offers me a little more flexibility to pursue this writing hobby.
HOW MANY BOOKS DID YOU HAVE TO WRITE BEFORE YOU KNEW YOU HAD "MADE IT"?
I’ve written five solo books and counting, and am not sure yet whether or not I’ve “made it.”
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Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our conversation with Jason Boyett. In the meantime, find him online at JasonBoyett.com. Follow his virtual book tour here.
Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 1
Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 3
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