Goodreads asked Jan Thomas:

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Jan Thomas Write from your heart, edit from your head. But not at the same time. First, write everything you are thinking (and feeling about what you're thinking). Don't worry about your spelling or punctuation. Just get it all out of you and onto the page. You don't have to have all of the answers in the moment. If thoughts are free flowing, don't let your attention to grammatical detail stem the flow.
And if you really want to be a writer, "dare to". "Dare to" try it. Dare to dream it. Dare to push words around and dictate their place in a sentence. And in the absence of stimuli, write what you know. Even if you are simply writing down the details of an otherwise mundane job. Stuff will start popping out of your brain about someone you work with, or a ridiculous policy made by a small-minded supervisor. Then, slowly a character will take shape. Or an idea about what you would change if YOU were in charge. (Like nixing the stupid policy and hanging the supervisor by his necktie!)

Let me give an example. I was in an online chat one day with a friend in New York and he said he'd always wondered if he could be a writer, but he didn't know how to start or what to write about. So I asked him what he knew. He talked about a prior military stint and then later worked in computer sciences. He excused himself for a moment because he said someone had just slipped a note under the door to his apartment. When he returned he said "It's just inviting me to a pot luck this weekend." I said "That's not what it says." And he said "What do you mean?" and I said "It says 'Leave your apartment. You have two minutes.'" So I quickly said "What are you taking with you?" and he gave a few answers. So I reminded him of the time and pressed him 'Go! You've got to GO! Move!" He started to get excited and talked through what he would take and why. Then I said "Okay, you're out of the building. It just blew up." He said "It did? Why?" I said "I don't know why, but someone KNEW it was going to happen and WARNED YOU to get out!" He said "But WHY?" And I said "How should I know? What do YOU know that could be of interest or a danger to anyone else? What do you know that you SHOULDN'T know?" And he said "Well, I don't know, but...but, well, I was a code-breaker in the Military." And I said "Okay, go with that. Were there shortcuts or ways to give your commander one message when you'd really received another? After all, how would HE know, you're the one deciphering the code for him. You could tell him anything! But what could you tell him that would cause trouble during your time in the military?" and he began to get it. He started describing how it was known that in some areas of a country, drugs were being moved through a certain small airstrip and the code-breakers would pick up the "skip" (hear a transmission they might not normally receive.) sometimes.
Suddenly, in his mind, a damn broke open of what they "knew" but looked the other way, and WHY they looked the other way. He then started typing all this detail about the type of notes he was supposed to hand up the chain (one color), or directly to the Officer In Charge (a brighter color!). I had to leave him for an appointment but I told him to keep going. Follow it through.
When I came back later he had written for two and a half hours. Stuff he knew but forgot he knew or didn't think the knowledge was worth anything. He had the outline of a story and how it all tied back to the note slipped under his door! It was one of the greatest moments of my life, to see that happen for HIM.

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