Nine Brooklyn Writers and How They Work

James Boice, author of The Good and the Ghastly

How long do you spend writing each day?

2-12 hours

What time of day do you prefer to write?

First thing in the morning and last thing at night.

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

I try to aim for a page, which is a nice, reasonable goal. On a good day, that ends up turning into a couple of pages. After several good weeks, that’s accumulated into a nice little chunk of book-like material. A few months later, the stack of paper is hopefully hefty enough that I can pass it off as a legitimate novel. I never have enough time, always have to tear myself away to attend to some obligation. But being under the gun probably helps in some way.

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

No music when I’m writing—I am too easily distracted and one-track minded. I even put on noise-cancelling earmuffs to put myself in a nice silent little vacuum so I don’t hear all the screaming and car alarms and wretched music coming in from outside. They are supposed to be for shooting guns. I think there are a lot of similarities between writing books and shooting firearms. Music is important to me though, in general. Recently, lots of The Men, Kurt Vile, Hot Snakes, Disappears, Refused.

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

I don’t check it until later in the day when I’m done writing. Too much stupid trivial shit.

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?

Swooper. I am very bad at fussing and fiddling. When I try to fuss and fiddle with something, I usually end up fucking it up.

Do you eat when you’re writing?

Don’t tend to, no.

What snacks/drinks do you go to?


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

I only have a finite amount of time to write each day—and if I don’t write, I become very grim. So for my own mental health and out of consideration of those who must deal with my emotional states, I don’t procrastinate too much. I do procrastinate very much about getting to other obligations. In that case, my procrastination tool is writing.

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

She’s in publishing, so she’s cool, she gets it. No biggie. Same with my dog, Marvin (Boston terrier, 11 years old, bad motherfucker).

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

I can pick up and go. I start to feel stale if I don’t change things up now and again, even if it’s just moving the desk or whatever.


  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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