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Allison Winn Scotch, C’95

New York Times Bestselling Author

Santa Monica, CA

History Major

I didn’t have a destination in mind after college. I enjoyed reading and writing and it was a strong suit of mine. I think a lot of people were going into banking, and my brother got into banking, and my parents would have loved for me to go into banking. It just was not for me.

I started writing for magazines for about six years. It was just sort of like stumbling upward. I had always wanted to write a book, as many people have. I got the Penn Gazette, and in it, a woman a couple of years ahead of me, Sara Dunn, was announcing publication of her second novel. I thought, she’s a few years older than me and she’s on her second book. What am I waiting for? This is crazy. I’ve written every magazine article I can possibly write and it’s time to try something new, even if that felt daunting.

It took me about three or four years and I wrote a manuscript that got me an agent, and it did not sell to publishers. So then I wrote another one. There were a lot of obstacles along the way, but that ended up being my first book. I kept writing for magazines for a while after that, but was eventually able to segue to pretty much exclusively novels.

Anybody in an artistic career of any sort, you’re just going to get rejected so many times. I think a lot of writers are sensitive or empathetic people, which can make it hard to rebound from that.

When I’m working on a book, I’m really disciplined about it. I usually take a walk first thing, because it allows me to clear my head. Then immediately, I come down or go into my office or sit in the kitchen with my laptop and I start writing and I try to hit my word count before I do anything else in the day. Because the hardest part of writing is writing. You can talk yourself out of it so easily. I have found over the years that if I start at 9:00 and I say I have to hit a thousand words—or right now, I’m really in the middle of it so I’m trying to do 2,000 words a day—I can honestly be done with the work of it by 11:00. If I want to return to it, some days I will and I’ll write another 1,000 words, or I’ll take another walk and I’ll be like, oh, this is what that scene was missing. But by having that discipline first thing in the morning, you eliminate the time where you’re going to make excuses and not get to it.

Anybody in an artistic career of any sort, you’re just going to get rejected so many times. I think a lot of writers are sensitive or empathetic people, which can make it hard to rebound from that. But you have to find that balance between pulling yourself up by your britches and also tuning in enough to the outside world and making yourself vulnerable to be able to write well. — March 5, 2019 • Photo by Brooke Sietinsons