Fiona Ryan: Why I Write

In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve gone gaga for the National Day on Writing, which we’re celebrating with our buds the National Writing Project, the New York Times Learning Network, and Edutopia.

In addition to asking writers why they write, we want to hear a little more about how, what, and where they write, and so from now until the Big Day (October 20!) we’ll be asking some of our favorite writers—a mix of pros and Figs alike—to tell us a bit more about their writing processes.

Today we turn our questions to Figment’s own Fiona Ryan, the 14-year old writer who’s proven her literary chops by winning contests like the MTV Act and the Robot Contest.

How did you become a writer? When did you first start thinking of yourself as a writer?

FR: When I was in preschool, I was very eager to write. I would dream of wild plots with crazy characters and exotic settings. I would then dictate these stories to my mom, who would patiently write them for me. Once I learned to write my name (backwards, for that matter), I couldn’t stop. I wrote long stories to read aloud to my classmates on “Author’s Chair” day. I was proud to be a writer.

What are the things you’re most proud of having written, from any time in your life?

FR: I think I felt the most pride when I completed my first full length story. It was a wild, 20 page adventure about a family of dogs who discover a mysterious passage in a castle. Though I look back on this with a laugh, I can’t deny that it was an accomplishment.

How would you describe your writing process? That is, how do you usually research, write, revise, edit? What routines help, and what challenges do you regularly face?

FR: My writing process is anything but organized. It generally begins with a sudden inspiration, which usually leads to a plot line scribbled somewhere, whether on my math homework or on the back of a Latin flashcard. I should mention that it is very rare that I will find this idea again. If I do begin a story, I usually start in the middle of the story, as I am utterly abysmal when it comes to beginnings. It is also very rare that I finish a work. I am frequently plagued by writers block. My writing process is not neat, but occasionally it does work out.

What’s the strangest or most interesting thing you’ve ever written about or researched for a writing project?

FR: Though I have quite an abundance of odd ideas, I think my most interesting consisted of  a mysterious chicken egg. I spent quite a while researching chicken reproduction. I am sorry to say that this work was never completed.

How do outside forces influence or shape your writing? (For instance, your audience, editors, teachers, things you read, etc.)

FR: My writing is shaped by experience. At this time in my life, I experience a vast amount of new things. I encounter new people and find myself in new situations every day. I suppose my writing reflects how I’ve changed. I am always inspired by my own experiences, stories I read, and current events and how I react to them.

Why do you write?

FR: I write because it gives me freedom. Life has so many boundaries, rules, and expectations. Writing is wide open. It’s all up to the author. If I want pigs to fly in my writing, then they will fly and nobody will stop them. Writing is my freedom and my escape.  Writing is a blank page waiting to be filled.

Hungering for more author Q&As? Visit the New York Times Learning Network and National Writing Project. Then head over to the Forums to post your own burning writerly questions to any of the authors featured on the site. We’ll post answers to the questions after October 20. And of course, be sure to let us know why you write . . .


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