Chicago-Based Author Shane Zimmer Shares Tips for Aspiring Writers


Shane Zimmer, the accomplished author of A Suburban Tale of Orange, holds an MFA in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University. Shane recently discussed his writing process with the staff at the GEPL and offered some useful tips for aspiring writers participating in National Novelist Writer’s Month.

How many years have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since college, but more seriously, more focused during the last six years. I finished my first novel and realized how much I needed to learn, especially about the art of storytelling. I don’t consider myself a natural storyteller. In the last few years I’ve improved (DePaul’s MA in Writing and Publishing program helped), and now I’m putting myself to the test by writing a second novel.

What inspires you to write?

I strive to more fully develop my intellect and imagination, and to tell stories that are emotionally rich and intellectually stimulating, while playing with language and cracking a few jokes. Failing that, I am inspired to simply finish another long-form project. Failing that, I am inspired to bore people while telling them about my novel-in-progress.

What do you find frustrating or difficult about writing and what do you do to overcome it?

It takes a long time to rework draft after draft. I don’t know what I’m doing until the very end and I lack patience, so the process tests my resolve. I also have less interest in writing shorter works and more in longer stories, so I don’t easily get the satisfaction of a finished piece. Not to mention that it’s a lonely affair. I sometimes wish I was more passionate about music or theater because they are collaborative mediums and you can be social while working.

What do you find rewarding about writing?

It’s rewarding when I work consistently. I’m happy with myself if I just keep at it.

What writers do you admire?

Too many to name. Lately: Joan Didion, Gabriel García Márquez, and the poet Richard Jones.

What tips or advice can you give to beginning writers who will set out to write their first novel this November?

First draft: write now, think later.

For more information about Shane Zimmer’s publications and art projects, visit 


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