Jason Mott has published four novels. Her first novel, Incomewas a New York Times bestseller and was made into a television series that ran for two seasons. He holds a BA in fiction and an MA in poetry, both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His poetry and fiction have appeared in various literary journals. His latest novel, Hell of a Bookwinner of the National Book Award for Fiction in 2021, is now available in paperback.
Literary Pole: What time of day do you write?
Jason Word: I write first thing in the morning. I get up at 5:30 a.m. and head straight for the computer because I’ve discovered that the best time to write is when the rest of the world is sleeping. There are just fewer distractions and interruptions first thing in the morning.
HL: How to tackle writer’s block?
JM: I write. I have a theory that writers block isn’t real. In my opinion, writers block is simply the fear of writing badly. So, in these difficult days, I go on and write badly. Finally, my brain always understands what it means.
HL: Which book(s) do you come back to again and again?
JM: There are actually two: lord of the flies and Grendel.
When I was fourteen I ran into John Gardner Grendel and it captured my imagination. This is literally the book that made me want to be a writer. And then I found lord of the flies, and it was the book that showed me what really high caliber writing could be. Every time I reread these books, I see something new because I have changed over time. I grew as a person and as a writer. Yet somehow these books still teach me something new about both. Painfully few works of art can do that.
HL: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
JM: Write every day. It’s the oldest and most common advice given to writers, and that’s because it’s still the best. A long time ago, a mentor told me that I had good habits and a good writing routine. He told me to lean on it, and I did.
Another tip I’ve learned for myself over the years is that we all need to be kinder to ourselves throughout our writing journey. Learning to write is a difficult thing, and learning to do it well takes much, much longer than you might think. As you try to become a better writer, you will be filled with doubts and criticism. So I say to people: be kind and indulgent to yourself as you would be to someone you love who wants to learn to write. Take all that support, encouragement, and grace that you would give to someone else and focus on yourself. You deserve it. We all do.
HL: Name a classic that you feel guilty for never having read?
JM: Ulysses. I’ve been meaning to read it all my life, but never found the time. One day…
Hell of a book by Jason Mott is available now via Dutton.