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Moleskine Presents Five Craft Questions with Brittany Means

Friday, September 29, 2023

In anticipation of our forthcoming titles, Zibby Books has teamed up with iconic stationery and accessory brand Moleskine to produce exclusive interviews with our authors.

Below, Brittany Means—author of the memoir Hell If We Don’t Change Our Ways—discusses her creative process and what Brittany does when she’s feeling stuck.

Check in with the Zibby Books Instagram account for a chance to win a limited-edition Moleskine x Zibby Books notebook.

How do you begin writing projects?

I begin writing as I begin most things, by overthinking. A lot of my writing happens in my head. I want to see it and hear it there before I write it down. If someone is especially patient and doesn’t mind letting me ramble, I’ll talk it out until I figure out how I actually want to say it.

Are there other parts of your writing process that you prefer to execute by putting pen to paper?

Once I know how I want to say something, I like to hole up and completely immerse. I’d love to find a better balance, but most often I end up sitting all crouched like a gargoyle for entire days. I’m not a fan of having to stop and come back later because I feel like I lose my place. Like I was swinging from vine to vine and then lost momentum.

Can you speak to the importance of capturing moods, feelings, and ideas on the fly?

Writing is funny because we want to capture conclusions, but at least for me, my mind changes too often. I don’t know if it’s ever possible for me to write about things definitively. I think it can be important to write many times about the same thing. See how you feel and think about certain events when you’re different versions of yourself. Even if you wouldn’t publish or even share what you write, it might help you understand yourself better. And of course, sometimes you get something “usable.”

Where’s the most unlikely or unusual place you’ve written something memorable?

There have been a few times when I’ve had to stop on a hiking trail and crouch down to type something out on my phone. I’ve written while sitting in the coop with my chickens. I’ve written at bowling alleys. I’ve gotten out of the pool to write something down and then jumped back in. Whenever or wherever it strikes.

When or where do you feel your most creative? Do you have any tips on re-igniting creativity when you’re feeling stuck?

I feel the most creative when I’m in the presence of good writing. Whenever I want to write but I’m just not feeling it, I read work I like. Usually poetry, usually by Darius Stewart. It gets me in the right heart and headspace. I would recommend this to anyone who’s feeling stuck. Read something that reminds you of what words can do.

Brittany Means is a Chicana writer and editor living in Albuquerque, NM. A graduate of Iowa’s MFA Nonfiction Writing Program, Means has worked with Inara Verzemnieks and Kiese Laymon. She has received several awards for her work, including the Magdalena Award, the Geneva Fellowship, the Grace Paley Fellowship, and the Herodotus Award.