Mindy Hardwick’s most recent novel is Weaving Magic, a young adult novel published last spring. The story is based on her experience running a poetry and young adult literature workshop with teens in juvenile detention. Stained Glass Summer, an upper middle grade novel from Musa Publishing, was most recently listed as a 2013 EPIC ebook Finalist in the children’s category. The audio book version of Stained Glass Summer is now available. Visit the Stained Glass Summer Facebook page for more information and to see photos of teens working in glass art.
Mindy holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College and is a member of SCBWI. She is hard at work on a memoir about her experience running the juvenile detention poetry workshop. You can learn more about her by visiting her blog or following her on Twitter @mindyhardwick.
Describe your workspace.
Most of my work is done at my desk in a second floor loft. I try to keep everything organized! Next to my desk, I have two bookshelves. One holds all my writing craft and style books. The other bookshelf holds research for my current work-in-progress, notes for my current-works-in progress, as well as two shelves full of books about teaching poetry to youth. I also keep all my notes and journals about running a poetry and YA literature workshop with teens in juvenile detention on those shelves.
In front of me is a bulletin board. This is my favorite place of my workspace. I keep notes and cards kids have sent me about my books, a list of my goals for the next six months, and positive emails sent from editors or others about my books. Next to the bulletin board, is a wall with a picture of me presenting a poetry workshop to eighth graders at the middle school where I attended in St Louis. My grandfather took the picture and we found it when he passed away recently. I also have a picture of the house I lived in when I was in Kindergarten through third grade. That was one of the happiest times of my life and the times when I remember being the most creative. I like to look at that picture and think of my creative self at age seven as I write.
But, sometimes that space gets a little overloaded with the “business” of writing. (Workshop schedules, invoices, blogging, etc), and I need to free my creativity. Then, I take my laptop to my dining room table. I have an amazing view of the Cascade Mountains and Lake Stevens. It’s very inspiring to look at as I work through a draft of a story.
Describe a typical workday.
I get up at 6 A.M. This is my dog Stormy’s favorite time of the morning. I make coffee, do a little bit of journaling, and read an inspirational daily reading. Often when I make coffee, I scroll through my blogs on my Google reader on my phone. I spend the first part of the morning answering emails and responding to blogs, tweeting, or checking Facebook. I have a good friend from graduate school who lives in Cyprus. We email almost every day about writing and life. Two times a week, I go to yoga in the morning, so I take a break on those mornings for yoga.
I also spent the morning responding to my teacher student work (I teach distance learning classes to educators for Seattle Pacific University.). If I have edits from an editor, I may also work on those. Or, if I am teaching a class that week, I use the morning to work on the class or workshop material.
The afternoon is my creative time and when I write. It seems to quiet down in my email at that time of the day and I can free my mind a bit more. If I can’t write in that time, I will try to read.
Evenings are for family, friends, and a variety of social groups I belong to including a young adult book group where we read only YA books.
List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.
I have a picture of myself with Norma Fox Mazer and a group of teens at a National Book Foundation Summer Writing Camp. That was the first workshop I ever attended and it was what kicked off my writing journey. I have a card with an illustration of a girl, arms outstretched, standing on the beach in front of Haystack rock at Cannon Beach. The illustration is from Steidel’s Art Gallery in Cannon Beach. The Northern Oregon Coast is my favorite place and that picture represents how I feel when I am on the coast—free and filled with unlimited possibilities. I have a picture of my bedroom when I was in second grade. It is a snowy, Central Illinois day and the snow is piled high outside my window. On my desk are crayons and paper. Next to the desk is a bookcase filled with my favorite childhood books. That picture reminds me of how I loved to read, draw, and write as a child, and reminds me to bring that same spirit into my work today.
Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.
I don’t have any rituals except sitting down and getting to work!
What do you listen to while you work?
The dogs barking in the neighborhood. I’ve never been one to listen to music or anything when I work. I hear the story as I write and that seems to fill up my mind and ears.
What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?
Coffee with vanilla flavored cream! Always!
What keeps you focused while you’re working?
Deadlines and when I don’t have a deadline, my goals. I revise and readjust my goals on a regular basis, but I also post them on the bulletin board in front of me. They keep me focused and going.
Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?
Most of what I write is on the computer. My mind races too fast with the story and words and I can’t keep up writing longhand. But, I do write longhand to flesh out characters or plot ideas or to get a story idea. Once I feel the story or character begin to come together, I move to the computer.
How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?
I used to just let the character guide me. However, the romance writers at RWA Conferences taught me a lot about outlining and plotting beforehand. I find plotting to be extremely valuable. I can outline a story plot, and then it gives me a map to follow as I draft. I don’t have to do nearly as many drafts when I outline. But, I do revise and revise my outline as needed.
If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?
My sister! She’s very creative and she does a lot of different creative things from scrapbooking to writing to art.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?
Every story will be different and it’s important to keep learning how to write. I used to think that if I figured out how to write one story, I would know how to write all stories. While it’s true that all stories have some similarities, each story has its own challenges and issues. It’s important to keep learning by reading, attending workshops, talking to other writers, and listening to the work-in-progress.