Picking the Brain of THE Pen Man: James Chartrand

We end this week with an interview with one of my favorite people on planet Earth; James Chartrand. James is the spunk and panache behind Men with Pens. He has heart and passion and occasionally breaks the rules, but that’s okay. He makes his own rules (he’s cool like that). James cares about the business of writing, but more importantly, he cares about people. He works hard to make the Internet a better place for us all. If you don’t believe me, just read one of his posts. In fact, read all of his posts, James writes terrific content.

Now that I’m done singing his praises, let’s get on with the interview already, jeesh.

Now Live:  James Chartrand

Like everyone else, James received the same three thoughtfully constructed questions as the other bloggers. Here’s what he had to say.


What writing habits do you practice daily?

I don’t have any particular writing habits beyond my routine schedule – daily emails, daily content writing, blog posts for clients, ebook writing…

I mean, my keyboard is always rattling away, so the writing habit I have is writing!

What is your process for improving your writing?

I love to analyze and pick things apart. I look towards certain writers that I admire and I read over their work to see what they do, what their strategies are and how I can apply the same to my work.

If I decide to try something myself, I focus on that one thing for a little while and I analyze the results. Did I achieve what I wanted? Was it a hit and miss? Did I enjoy this type of writing?
If I have a bad habit (and I’m always picking up one or the other), once I recognize it, I work daily to eliminate it with conscious effort.

Then of course, another bad habit crops up 🙂

What books or blog posts have influenced the mechanics and heart of your writing the most?

Brian Clark has a way of rocking my boat every now and then with very powerful posts. They’re not just ones I admire, they’re ones that get me thinking, that make me go, “Hmmm…” I toss around his ideas for days and find myself thinking in new directions. His Crossroads post sticks with me still today after months of its being posted.

And Stephen King’s On Writing. I picked that up recently and found myself hating adverbs after reading it.

One heavy influence has been RPG gaming. Creative writing in this style was a true joy for me. Why was that scene good? What made it dramatic or beautiful? What could have been done better? How about this dialogue? I wrote many pieces of indulgence that had no more focus than a post-it note in a scene. When I managed to stop time for a reader by drawing the person into that world for a moment, the feeling was awesome.

And from that, I wanted to keep getting better and replicate the experience.

“When I managed to stop time for a reader by drawing the person into that world for a moment, the feeling was awesome.” The power of words continues to amaze me daily. Your words matter to many, brother. Never forget that. You inspire many to achieve their dreams.

James, your wisdom is timeless, your friendship is priceless. Thanks for agreeing to this interview.

18 Responses to Picking the Brain of THE Pen Man: James Chartrand
  1. James Chartrand - Men with Pen
    October 3, 2008 | 11:04 pm

    *sniff, sniff* I’m my own first comment…

    Hehehe. Thanks for having me, Jamie.

  2. James Chartrand - Men with Pens
    October 3, 2008 | 7:04 pm

    *sniff, sniff* I’m my own first comment…

    Hehehe. Thanks for having me, Jamie.

  3. Jamie Simmerman
    October 4, 2008 | 1:04 am

    I LOVE having you over, you helped decorate the place after all!

    I think everyone is busy commenting over at Writer Dad’s place, he had a hoopla yesterday and it’s still going on. I bet if we offered wine and chocolate cake, there’d be a stampede! 🙂

  4. Jamie
    October 3, 2008 | 9:04 pm

    I LOVE having you over, you helped decorate the place after all!

    I think everyone is busy commenting over at Writer Dad’s place, he had a hoopla yesterday and it’s still going on. I bet if we offered wine and chocolate cake, there’d be a stampede! 🙂

  5. Harrison McLeod
    October 4, 2008 | 4:01 am

    @Jamie: Free food would do it. Thanks again for interviewing all of us!

    @James: Excellent answers there, bro!

  6. Harrison McLeod
    October 4, 2008 | 12:01 am

    @Jamie: Free food would do it. Thanks again for interviewing all of us!

    @James: Excellent answers there, bro!

  7. Jamie Simmerman
    October 4, 2008 | 2:41 pm

    Very interesting answers. I think you have the knack. Thanks for the insight.

  8. Steph
    October 4, 2008 | 10:41 am

    Very interesting answers. I think you have the knack. Thanks for the insight.

  9. Toni Dean
    October 4, 2008 | 7:36 pm

    “When I managed to stop time for a reader by drawing the person into that world for a moment, the feeling was awesome ” Wow!!! This one statement conveys the dream of every dedicated “non-technical” writer. It is such a gift when we realize that we have provided an alternative world for our readers. Thanks for reminding me what my aspirations are.

  10. Toni Dean
    October 4, 2008 | 3:36 pm

    “When I managed to stop time for a reader by drawing the person into that world for a moment, the feeling was awesome ” Wow!!! This one statement conveys the dream of every dedicated “non-technical” writer. It is such a gift when we realize that we have provided an alternative world for our readers. Thanks for reminding me what my aspirations are.

  11. Jamie Simmerman
    October 4, 2008 | 7:49 pm

    Writing truly is a gift, isn’t it Toni? Thanks for pointing that out. It’s nice to see passionate writers on the Web. 😉

  12. Jamie
    October 4, 2008 | 3:49 pm

    Writing truly is a gift, isn’t it Toni? Thanks for pointing that out. It’s nice to see passionate writers on the Web. 😉

  13. Tessa
    October 6, 2008 | 9:08 pm

    Enjoyed the interview!! Thanks!!

  14. Tessa
    October 6, 2008 | 5:08 pm

    Enjoyed the interview!! Thanks!!

  15. Tivona
    October 28, 2008 | 10:11 am

    Good words.

  16. Tivona
    October 28, 2008 | 6:11 am

    Good words.

  17. Jamie Simmerman
    October 28, 2008 | 11:35 am

    Hi Tivona, James always has something insightful to say. Thanks for stopping by!

  18. Jamie
    October 28, 2008 | 7:35 am

    Hi Tivona, James always has something insightful to say. Thanks for stopping by!

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