Featured Writer on Wellness: Jac Jemc

Filed in Writers on Wellness by on August 14, 2014 • views: 804

JAC_JEMC_DZANCI think the toughest battle for me is balancing writing with other healthy actions.

There are only so many free hours in the day, so if I’m dedicating a couple hours a day to writing, it can be easy for exercise to fall by the wayside.

Avoidance of the actual act of writing and rewards for having written can also take the form of a drink of some sort. It’s a vicious circle.

I don’t think I’ve felt very acute physical pains from the act of writing. There was a time when I was wearing wrist guards because of pressure I put on a nerve when resting my elbows on the desk to type, but that’s been less of an issue recently.

I try to be pretty strict with myself about getting to bed by 11 on weeknights to make it easier to get up by 6. That’s  about as routine as I get.

Battling the Feeling of Being Overwhelmed

I can be hard on myself about motivating and not getting more done. I don’t have too much self-doubt and I deal with rejection pretty well.

I usually have a lot of projects going, so I don’t let writer’s block stop me—that’s a true benefit of having regular habits.

I can allow myself to get overwhelmed when I’m trying to balance all of the pieces of the writing life: actual writing, editing, promotion, supporting community, reading, performing.

There’s so much to do, but I really do love all of it, and when times get tough I try to remind myself how lucky I am to get to have all the opportunities I do.

There’s Never Enough Time to Juggle All the Pieces

In general, I don’t think writing is emotionally challenging beyond trying to give myself permission to take the time I need to reach my goals and hoping other people will understand.

It’s hard for me to pull apart my general psychology from what makes me want to write though. I have a lot of emotions.

I have a hard time not feeling intense empathy for others. I think these attributes drive me to write, and help in the creation and exploration of characters, but the attributes themselves can occasionally be debilitating. I can get very hung up on someone else’s trouble—wondering how to help and wishing things could be different.

I’ve tried so much! I’m constantly trying stuff. I’ll pick up and put down meditation and Buddhism and yoga. I’ve tried running as a way of clearing my mind. I’ve gone to therapy.

Everything helps, but it goes back to the issue of time. There never seems to be enough time to juggle all the pieces.

The Darkest Moment

I don’t know that I’ve encountered a dark time in my career so far. I’m incredibly lucky.

In all cases, I’ve felt like I was slowly moving forward. Perhaps this is another benefit of just moving forward a little every day.

The One Thing That Has Kept You On Your Path

I do think I’m an overachiever at heart. Once I tell people I’m going to do something, I want to go straight to the top. I feel a deep desire to succeed, but success can be a very incremental, habitual thing in my mind.

There will be days when a more palpable sign of success shows up and affirms me, but every day I wake up and knock out some writing first thing feels like I’m doing the best I can.

Also: reading other people’s work. I fear my to-read pile is already too long to get to it all in my lifetime, and every single book I lay eyes on is exciting and motivating and keeps me working.

Advice for a Young Writer: Make Room for Your Writing

The hardest part is absolutely all of the trial and error, and the necessity to make room for your writing in the midst of everything else life is throwing at you.

Writing requires you to be brutally honest with yourself in a million different ways.

Certainly, the process of revision forces you to recognize your own weaknesses and to kill work that took up a lot of time and effort. That can be very difficult, but it also forces you to be honest about how you’re setting your priorities time-wise.

If you want to be writing but aren’t, and your excuse is that there is no time, perhaps you have to consider what else it is your doing in the space of that time.

If you really want it, you will make it work. It might be in 15-minute increments while the soup simmers or between train stops or in the last exhausted minutes before bed, but whatever time you can give to the writing will provide myriad returns.

* * *

Jac Jemc’s first collection of stories, A Different Bed Every Time, is forthcoming from Dzanc Books in October 2014. Her novel, My Only Wife (Dzanc Books) was named a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award. She is also the author of a chapbook of stories, These Strangers She’d Invited In (Greying Ghost Press).  She is the poetry editor at decomP and web nonfiction editor for Hobart. 

Find more about Jac at her website.


A Different BedA Different Bed Every Time: A thief steals the air from a room. Children invent a nursery rhyme to make sense of their fate. A band of girls rot from the outside in.

These characters stumble through joy and murder and confusion, only to survive and wait for the next catastrophe to arrive. Moments so brief and disturbing you can’t afford to look away.

Jac Jemc’s affecting stories mine the territory between what is real and the stories we tell to create understanding.

Available at Dzanc Books, Amazon.

My-Only-WifeMy Only Wife: Ten years ago the narrator unlocked the door of a wrecked apartment, empty of any trace of his wife.

As stunning as her disappearance is his response. He freezes on the facts of her, haunting his recollections.

This is the story of a man unable to free himself enough from the idea of a woman to try to find her.

Available at: Dzanc Books, Amazon.

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  1. “I think the toughest battle for me is balancing writing with other healthy actions. There are only so many free hours in the day, so if I’m dedicating a couple hours a day to writing, it can be easy for exercise to fall by the wayside.”

    CHECK

    “I can be hard on myself about motivating and not getting more done. I don’t have too much self-doubt and I deal with rejection pretty well. I usually have a lot of projects going, so I don’t let writer’s block stop me—that’s a true benefit of having regular habits.”

    CHECK

    “In all cases, I’ve felt like I was slowly moving forward. Perhaps this is another benefit of just moving forward a little every day.”

    CHECK

    “If you really want it, you will make it work.”

    CHECK

    “The hardest part is absolutely all of the trial and error, and the necessity to make room for your writing in the midst of everything else life is throwing at you.”

    CHECK

    I felt Like I was reading about me—proof the world is a small place getting smaller.