Caleb Breakey is passionate about life, God and writing. He is a speaker/teacher for teens (and non-teens) at writing conferences across the country.
CM: Thank you for joining us today, Caleb. I noticed you have experience in a wide variety of genres including sports writing, reviews, and fiction. Which is your favorite and why?
Caleb: Tough one here. Can I say just fiction and non-fiction?
Fiction is wonderful because it’s so incredibly difficult and rewarding. No one knows precisely what makes a great story. You learn from the best, you learn from the worst. There are rules to be followed, and rules to be broken. You never know which words and scenes will etch themselves into the minds of your readers. You just write until your mind hurts and your fingers ache and you couldn’t possibly make your story any better.
Writing fiction is the ultimate marathon with the ultimate reward.
Non-fiction, meanwhile, boasts pages upon pages of some of the world’s deepest passion. I’m currently bleeding my first non-fiction book onto the page and I’m finding that 1) the writing comes easier than fiction; but 2) channeling passion into words is like funneling the Amazon into a barrel. It takes an extraordinary amount of discipline to guide the
outpouring of one’s heart.
CM: What major truths do you strive to communicate through writing?
Caleb: Life is beautiful chaos—beautiful because of faith, hope, and love, and chaos because of our reaction to that faith, hope, and love. This is my writing in a nutshell.
CM: What or who keeps you motivated?
Caleb: The thought of doing something I’m meant to do. Contributing to this world. Writing the exact words I believe God wants me to write. I can get up in the morning and fight Resistance not only with my own will but with what I believe is the will of my heavenly father.
One of the key things I’ve learned is that motivation doesn’t produce words. Words produce motivation. It’s the doing–the writing of words–that kick-starts the part of our mind that says, “Yes, this is what I was meant to do.”
CM: What aspect of the writing process do you most enjoy?
Caleb: This might sound rudimentary, but . . . writing.
That’s my final answer. Sometimes I get so caught up in editing and researching
and marketing that I forget the utter joy of just writing. To watch words,
scenes, stories and meaning grow in front of me evokes a feeling so rich and
textured that I cannot help but create and explore more and more.
CM: What challenges do you face in writing, from coming
up with an idea to getting it published? How do you overcome them?
Caleb: Ideas tend to come to me quickly because I read a lot. Reading stretches your imagination, which in turn creates room for your own ideas to grow into something greater.
When it comes to writing, my greatest challenge is focus. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the “do this” and “do that” mentality of social media and marketing. While these aspects are certainly important, nothing can replace the bum-in-chair time at the computer or notepad.
CM: Writing is more than inspiration. It takes discipline and hard work, as you know. What does your typical writing day look like?
Caleb: I keep a list of scenes (fiction), thoughts (non-fiction) and to-dos (freelance work) handy at all times. I always start with writing and sometimes clock myself. If I’m trudging too slowly, I hit my research in search of nuggets that will either inspire a burst of 2,000
words or simply add depth and texture to what’s already written. Then it’s back
to writing. Back to the clock.
If I’m still going slow, I might try a quick writing prompt or something quirky. Sometimes I take a minute to draw something on my whiteboard. Or write longhand or talk into my recorder. All three trigger certain parts of my brain. And it’s totally worth it.
At the end of the day, it’s all about word quota and moving forward.
CM: Great ideas! When and how did you discover your interest in writing?
Caleb: Writing piqued my interest when I was 10 or 11 years old. I remember penning a story about my family’s three-wheeler and how going “full throttle”—a blazing 15 miles per hour—shook me to the core. To this day, my brothers won’t let me live that story down.
Being a sports lover, I also followed my church’s softball team as if the players were Major Leaguers. Even before the season started, I loved assigning positions, creating batting orders, and wondering which player deserved the most lucrative contract (should they ever get paid).
So I started writing a fictitious newsletter and distributing it to the church mailboxes. I wrote to entertain myself and, in turn, entertained others.
I remember thinking to myself, “I could do this forever.”
CM: How about a few just-for-fun questions. What is your favorite pastime outside of writing?
Caleb: Rock Band, anyone? I’ve been known for getting into songs with a gusto more suitable for a break dancer, and I’ve been warned to never again use a coffee table as a platform. What can I say? I’m passionate. =)
I’m also a lover of improv. My wonderful wife and sister-in-laws often create scenarios for me to act out, and it usually ends up with all of us falling on the floor.
And for all those competitors out there, I love playing baseball, softball, basketball and football.
CM: What was your favorite subject in school?
Caleb: Up until college? Probably Legos, G.I. Joes, and building forts. I didn’t find the wonderful creative outlet of writing until my 17th year, so action figures and forts it was.
CM: What kind of music do you like?
Caleb: Being a man of faith, I gravitate toward music that magnifies the faith, hope and love thriving inside me—bands such as Casting Crowns and Kutless, and Mercy Me. I also get onto weird music kicks (much to wife’s chagrin). Just this past year I started writing to Mozart and Beethoven and other classical artists. I think they’re brilliant.
CM: Thanks Caleb!
If you’d like to know more about Caleb and his speaking schedule, visit him on Facebook.