Nine Brooklyn Writers and How They Work

Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures

How long do you spend writing each day?

It depends—if I’m really in work mode, then I’ll write from 9-12ish, and then again until about 3 or 4. My brain shuts off in the mid-afternoon.

What time of day do you prefer to write?

What’s the name for the kind of person who isn’t an early bird and REALLY isn’t a night owl? The kind of person who peaks around 11am? That’s me.

Do you set yourself a time limit or a word limit? No limits?

I set myself a weekly page limit. Depending on what else I have going on, the limit might be 10 pages, or it might be 25. Whatever the number is, I always get there. I am very determined.

Do you write with music on? If so, what music do you like to write to?

Never ever ever. Music with words is obviously out, but I can’t even listen to instrumental music while I write. I enjoy as monkish a silence as my corner of Brooklyn can provide. There is usually some reggae in the deep background, and some construction noises, and some honking horns. Ah, home.

How often do you check the Internet? Do you fall into Internet black holes? Or turn off your WiFi completely?

One hundred million times a day. And that’s a low estimate. When I find that I have really fallen deep into a rabbit hole—someone’s wedding photos on Facebook, a slide show on Vulture—I have to actually say to myself, outloud, “Emma, stop it. Get back to work.”

Are you a basher or a swooper? Kurt Vonnegut characterized writers into these two camps: “Tellers of stories with ink on paper, not that they matter any more, have been either swoopers or bashers. Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.” Are you something else entirely?

Swoop swoop swoop swoop swoop.
I’m a swooper, I’m a a snacker, I’m a lover, and I’m a grinner. Isn’t that how the song goes?

Do you eat when you’re writing?

Constantly, if possible.

What snacks/drinks do you go to?

It is amazing, the kind of elaborate snacks I will make in order to procrastinate. But usually just some cheese, a peanut butter sandwich, something of that nature. And iced tea, all the livelong day.

What’s your biggest procrastination tool? Or are you a freak who never procrastinates? Freak!

The aforementioned Internet. And the snacks. And who else is going to sing all those songs to my cats, if not me?

How do the people (roomates/partners/children) who live with you fit into or around your writing schedule?

My husband and I really have it all figured out. He works (designing beautiful things) in his studio in our garden level, and I work on the top floor, and there’s a floor between us where we meet for lunch. We both try to take weekends off, though that doesn’t always actually happen.

Do you find yourself tied to the place you’ve grown accustomed to writing? Or can you just pick up and go?

I write lying down, so all I need is a bed, baby.


  1. I was wondering if there were any African American, Latino, or Asian writers in Brooklyn?? Doesn’t look so based on this article.


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