Behind the Pen – Sandy Harper

Sandy HarperIn this week’s Behind the Pen series I interviewed Sandy Harper. Sandy is a local writer who also runs her blog Plaid, Pearls and Toddler stains. She also happens to be my sister and its great fun having a fellow writer in the family to run my ideas and proof my articles!

What do you love about writing?

I believe the number one thing I love about writing is Freedom. Freedom to write what I want, freedom to write whenever I want, freedom to put in as much as I want into my writing and freedom to be open and honest through my writing.

How did you get into the writing world?

When I think back at my writing, I realize I’ve been writing and loving it for as long as I can remember. Yet, it wasn’t until less than a decade ago that I started taking my passion public.

What top 2 challenges do you find in writing?

  1. Finding alone time to clear my head and write.
  2. Editing! Sometimes after rereading and rereading the same piece the words start to blur together.

Where do you find inspiration for your article/blog ideas?

I find it in everyday life. Often inspiration comes when I’m doing something and I think “hey, someone else might like to hear about this or know how to do this.” Or when I have questions and want to know more about a subject, I think someone else is probably wondering about this too.

What is… 1. The most challenging piece you’ve written & why and 2. Your favorite piece you’ve written & why?

  1. I would say the hardest (or at least I was the most nervous about) was the first piece I wrote for a small local events magazine. I interviewed an up and coming local band that worked with the music production company (SoundLizzard) I was working for. Since it was my first article being published I was nervous of really putting myself and my writing out there for all to see.
  2. This one is hard. I guess I would say this article I wrote for Winston-Salem Monthly magazine. I felt so proud to point it out and show it to everyone. I didn’t realize until I wrote that last sentence, that I guess I am a bit over my fear of feeling vulnerable when others read my work.

Do you have any tips to writers on conducting interviews and/or drafting interview questions?

When conducting in person interviews I always try to record it (as long as the interviewee doesn’t mind) that way I can really listen to them and not feel like I have to write down every word at that moment.

Before I draft my interview questions, I always make an outline (sometimes even a rough draft) of whatever it is I need the questions for (i.e. Article, blog).  When I do that I can see the holes in the piece and have a better idea of what I need to ask to fill in those holes.

If you could give an upcoming writer, one piece of advice what would it be?

Before you start writing, take a moment to scribble down any fears you may have. Whether it’s fear of starting, publishing, sending queries or getting writers block, just write it down. Then ball that paper up and throw it away. Sometimes the physical act of “throwing away our fears” can give a sense of empowerment and give us the jumpstart we need.

Where can people go to see more of your work?

My blog is called Plaid, Pearls and Toddler stains and can be found here:

Final thoughts from Sandy on writing…

Write as often as you can, anywhere you can and about anything you want. Oh and always keep a notepad or something with you at all times that you can scribble down ideas when they hit you. Because you never know when you will be inspired.

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