How I Write – Justin Brouckaert


When/how/where do you write?

I try to give writing my best hours, which for me are in the morning, before the day starts to weigh me down. I wake up, brew a pot of coffee and write on my laptop, at my desk, in my office, for at least an hour or two. I keep a notebook or a print draft next to my computer, but I do much of my revising and most of my composing in Microsoft Word. Occasionally I’ll walk down to a coffee shop or I’ll make up a few hours in the evening with beer instead of coffee, but for the most part I stick to my routine.

Do you eat while you write? If so, what?

The great Czech runner Emil Zatopek once said, “I was not talented enough to run and smile at the same time.” Well, I’m not talented enough to eat and write at the same time. Breakfast is a welcome break about three quarters of the way through my morning shift—I’ll stop to eat a bagel or a banana and browse Twitter for ten minutes or so before getting back to work.

Do you play music while you write? If so, what?

I have a writing station and a revising station on Pandora. I’m too easily distracted by discernible vocals when I’m trying to fill the page with something new, so my writing station features music by Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Ros, Boards of Canada—mostly instrumental bands with enough pace to their music that I can spend a few minutes banging out a rhythm on my desk if needed. It’s actually easier for me to get into a revision groove with louder, more energetic songs, so my revision station features bands like Minus the Bear, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse and more.

What are you reading right now?

Jamaal May’s The Big Book of Exit Strategies, Sam Smith’s The Jordan Rules, Alexander Chee’s Edinburgh, and Diane Cook’s Man v. Nature.

Justin Brouckaert’s work has appeared in The Rumpus, Passages North, Catapult, DIAGRAM, NANO Fiction, and Smokelong Quarterly, among other publications. He lives and writes in Columbia, SC, where he serves as fiction editor at Banango Street and is at work on a novel. Find him on Twitter @JJBrouckaert or at