Julia Goldberg: How I Write

"Craft and technique can sustain and improve the drive to tell a story."

Julia Goldberg
Jessica Preston Photography

During her long career as a journalist, Julia Goldberg has published work in regional and national publications, and she has been the recipient of several journalism awards. For many years, she was the editor of the Santa Fe Reporter. She also served as the editorial chair for the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. As a full-time faculty member in the creative writing and literature department at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, she teaches nonfiction courses and is the faculty advisor for the student-run online publication, Jackalope Magazine. Goldberg imparts her years of experience and knowledge to readers in her first book, Inside Story: Everyone’s Guide to Reporting and Writing Creative Nonfiction. 

 

Book versus article writing

I’m used to writing finite pieces on deadline. With this, I had 8,000 words, and I still wasn’t done. I thought, “How can this not be over yet?” Writing the book was a more extended process and a cumulative process. I’m so much more trained for deadline work. Deadline writing is instilled in me. Now I understand more about calibrating my expectations and patience. You can’t write a book like you’re on a crazed deadline for a year.

 

Can good writing be taught?

All writers value the instinctual pull toward writing that is important. A lot of the tools that are needed to sustain a writing career can be taught. People get frustrated in places where they need to push their skills. If I’m unhappy with something while I’m writing or during the revision process, I have techniques and tools to use. Craft and technique can sustain and improve the drive to tell a story. If you have drive to tell a story, anyone should feel that they can have the capacity to tell that story.

 

Advice for writing nonfiction

It’s important to be in the world and have experiences. And also, find a way to create a regular writing practice. That trains you to transform your observations and experience into writing.

 

Nonfiction for introverts

Writers are often quiet and introspective, and what’s great about nonfiction and journalism is that it gives you a reason to ask questions and be in the world that will feed you, no matter what kind of writing you do. That can’t solely be replaced by invention.

 

Writing routine

I have a home office where I like to write, at my grandfather’s old desk. I get all my interviews and transcription done first. I have everything ready to go. I don’t like to report and write at the same time, if possible. I try to write every day. I don’t have a set schedule, but I try to do something every day. I write notes to myself in journal fashion. Before the day starts or after the day ends are better for me when it comes to the creative process.

 

Finding an audience for your book

It has been the expectation for every writer and me that you will utilize whatever resources you have to get the word out. Anything you can do to get eyes on it. Part of what it means to be an author today is that you have your own platforms, and you have to participate in that. It’s not something I’m ever going to love, but there are not that many jobs in the world where every aspect you participate in is something you want to be doing.

 

Allison Futterman is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

 

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