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Interview with Vanessa Grigoriadis: “I am motivated by deadlines.”

Vanessa Grigoriadis is a critically acclaimed journalist and author. She is a contributing writer at The New York Times magazine and Vanity Fair, where her work has earned her numerous accolades, including a National Magazine Award for profile writing.

She is also a finalist for feature writing award for her cover story “Gawker and the Rise of the Creative Underclass,” and for The Mirror Award for her profile of Arianna Huffington. In addition to her journalism career, Grigoriadis is also a co-founder of Campside Media, a podcast company dedicated to narrative non-fiction storytelling.

She is the author of Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus, a book that addresses many of the questions surrounding sexual consent in the national debate.

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Welcome, Vanessa! We’re thrilled to have you on Famous Writing Routines. For our audience who may not be familiar with your work, can you give a brief introduction of yourself?

I am a veteran longform journalist and a co-founder of Campside Media. I’m the co-creator of four narrative nonfiction podcasts: Chameleon, Fallen Angel, Run Bambi Run, and Tabloid. I’m also a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine and Vanity Fair, and a National Magazine Award winner. And I’m mom to two children and two parrots!

Do you remember the first moment you realised you wanted to become a writer? 

I didn’t decide to become a writer until after I graduated college. I played violin seriously as a teenager and thought I might do that professionally. 

Can you take us through the creative process behind your book, Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus

I wrote an article for the cover of New York Magazine about sexual assault at Columbia University, and the woman who was carrying her mattress around for a year to protest against it. After that, I realized there was a powerful book in a new generation’s ideas and perceptions of sexual assault. I worked on the book on and off for three years, and had my son as I was finishing. 

What does a typical writing day look like for you? And if you don’t have a typical day, can you give us a recent example day? 

I wake up early, around 7am, and generally try to remain calm in the mornings. This can be hard with two small children. My husband takes the kids to school and I start writing. I think most clearly in the mornings. I try to do most of my work then. I usually stop writing around 3pm, pick up my kids, and spend the afternoon with them. After dinner I put them to sleep and usually write again for a couple more hours.

Do you have a target word count or a set amount of hours you like to write each day?

No. I am motivated by deadlines. I tend to write a tiny amount and then a lot in one fell swoop.

In addition to your book, you’re also a contributing writer at The New York Times magazine and Vanity Fair, as well as the co-founder of a podcast company. How do you balance all these creative endeavors?

Well, to be honest, right now I’m only writing podcasts. It’s too hard to complete so many tasks simultaneously. 

Whenever you hit a roadblock during a writing session, what are some of the methods you use to get back into the flow of things? 

I use the same tricks that many writers use. I go for a walk. I do some yoga. Or I’ll call up a friend who has a unique way of looking at the world. A new perspective often hopes to solve logical problems. 

What does your writing workspace look like?

Right now my writing space is a living room couch. I am staying with my mom.

Photo courtesy of the author

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Each week, we spend hours upon hours researching and writing about famous authors and their daily writing routines. It’s a lot of work, but we do it out of our love for books and learning about these authors’ creative process, and we certainly don’t expect anything in return. However, if you’re enjoying these profiles each week, and would like to send something our way, feel free to buy us a coffee!

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