Jo Piazza is a bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and digital strategist. She is the author of seven critically acclaimed books.
Here is what Jo had to say when we asked her about the write stuff:
What does a typical day look like for you?
My day to day is never the same. I edit, write books, host podcasts, and work on television scripts. Right now, I am editing a book. When I’m writing, I write 2,000-4,000 words a day. Even when I’m not writing, like now, I make myself write two pages a day. Writing is a muscle and you have to work it.
What tips do you have for people who want to improve their writing skills?
Read the newspaper every day. When I say read it, I actually mean read it and in print. Reading is the one thing that sharpens your writing skills immensely. Today, we don’t read as much because of social media. We think we read, but we are usually only reading headlines and jumping from article to article. Try reading The New Yorker from cover to cover. Also, reread and proofread what you write. When I proofread, I read what I wrote out loud. This helps you to pick up on things that you might have missed.
How do you decide what to write your books about?
I don’t write about one thing. I write about the things that interest me. What’s the point of doing anything if you aren’t interested? I have friends that are so burnt out and are in jobs that they don’t love. I honestly love what I do. Everything I write about, I am passionate about, and when you read my writing this passion jumps off the page. I have written books about nuns, celebrities, marriage, elections, and more. It’s interesting though because with all of my books, I have somehow woven in the concept of strong women—whether it was nuns or the Kardashians.
If you want to write a book, what are the steps you should take to achieve this goal?
It’s different for me now because I have an agent and have worked with all of the major publishing houses. Earlier in my career, I went to smaller publishing companies. For people who are just starting out, my best advice is to write the book. Don’t write the outline. Publishers want to see a whole book before they publish it. Once your book is finished, find an agent and a publisher. You can also try to self-publish. However, before you find a publisher or self-publish make sure you put your writing out there. Start a blog or write for a local newspaper. Just get your stuff out there.
How have you found mentors at different stages of your career?
My early mentors were professors, so the relationships were already built in, but I attended their lectures and office hours, read their books, and asked them for help. I also attended campus speaker events. I didn’t meet other authors, until I became an author. Writing is lonely and authors are isolated. I think the best way to meet other writers your own age is to start a writing group. Bounce ideas off of the people in this group and give feedback on each other’s writing. You can communicate with these people in person, over Zoom, or with email, so connecting is pretty easy.
Throughout your career, you have held jobs across different industries, including media, tech, and entertainment. What is one skill that you have utilized to excel in these different roles?
Hustling and working really hard. I encourage you to go above and beyond in whatever you are doing. Putting in effort is a lost art these days, but it is so valuable.
Jo Piazza is a bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and digital strategist. She is the author of seven critically acclaimed books, both fiction and non-fiction, which have been translated into more than ten languages. A former editor and columnist with Yahoo, Current TV, and the New York Daily News, her work has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York magazine, Glamour, Elle, Time, Marie Claire, the Daily Beast, and Slate. She holds an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s in journalism from Columbia University, and a master’s in religious studies from New York University. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, Nick, son, Charlie, and daughter, Beatrix.