New York Times best-selling author John Perry was born in Greensburg, Kentucky, and was raised in Houston, Texas. John has excelled in athletics, academics, and any creative endeavour he pursued. Leaning into his athletic abilities, John Perry served in the Army prior to attending Vanderbilt University—where he graduated cum laude with a BA in English and a minor in piano. Perry also attended University College, Oxford, England.
John Perry hasn’t had a traditional career trajectory, but every experience helped him to become the writer that he is today. John began his career as an advertising copywriter and radio producer in Houston. Later, his interest in music took him to Nashville, where he co-founded American Network Radio Productions. His career in writing began when a book publisher asked him to write the jacket copy for books he was helping to promote. Impressed by his writing abilities, the publisher invited him to ghostwrite a foreword. The rest was history. John Perry has since written biographies of historical figures including Sergeant Alvin York, Booker T. Washington, and Winston Churchill. His co-authored novel Letters to God debuted at #7 on The New York Times Best Seller list.
LuxuryActivist (LA): How has COVID-19 impacted your writing practice?
John Perry (JP): Fortunately my ability to write has not been much affected by the pandemic. These days all the correspondence back and forth with my editor and publisher is online anyway, so that part of the process hasn’t changed at all. Research is limited now because so many libraries and archives are closed, but I don’t have any research trips planned until spring. If anything, the COVID situation has given me more time than ever before to reflect, research, and write. As history is one of my writing passions, it is a fascinating experience living through such a major global event. We’ll be talking about this for the rest of our lives.
LA: What keeps you motivated during this time at home?
JP: As a writer, I find everything is a potential motivator. From the stillness of a winter morning (we have six inches of snow on the ground in Nashville) to the way the cream slowly blends with my coffee, I find inspiration in the small moments that I used to ignore. This new perspective has given me a great sense of joy and gratitude in these uncertain times. Things that I was too busy to notice before have become important. Fortunately, I have a wonderful family, a warm, comfortable house, and an exciting year of writing to look forward to. I count my blessings now more than ever. The only immediate problem is that my car is stuck at the bottom of our hill and it’s going to be three days before the ice melts enough for me to get it in the garage!
LA: Suggestions for good ways others can cope during this time.
JP: Take time to reconnect with your creativity. The silver lining that the pandemic has provided us all with is the gift of time to slow down and reflect. Constantly busy with the rush of life, from work to social obligations, we have been granted this unique opportunity to reconnect with ourselves. Whether you bake, embroider, draw, paint, write, or knit, this is the perfect time to find a creative channel for your energy. Creativity is a powerful healer, especially in times of uncertainty.
LA: How can people use writing as a tool?
JP: Whether you consider yourself a writer or not, try writing something every day. If you do not have an outlet to express your innermost thoughts and feelings, they can easily come out in less than favourable ways. You can start a gratitude journal, try writing short stories, or just write about your day. Anxiety is at an all-time high, and I believe that writing can help people soothe, and work through, those feelings.
LA: What advice would you give to fellow creatives who may be struggling during COVID-19?
JP: Look at the bigger picture. Whether you are experiencing highs or lows, it is all temporary. No matter who you are, I am sure that you have been through difficult times in the past and have made it through them. Every time you look at a challenge as a blessing, you leverage your resilience. Look for inspiration in adversity. Use it as an opportunity to channel new feelings and experiences into your work. The world needs creativity now more than ever.
LA: What are some of the lessons you have learned from having to work remotely and tips you can give to the readers?
JP: We all thrive in different environments. For some, remote working is a blessing. For others it is isolating and problematic. In my case, writing days now are much the same as they were before COVID. I can’t visit friends, clients, or interview subjects as easily as in the past, but I stay connected by phone and internet and make it a point to keep my projects on schedule. Routines are familiar and comforting in these crazy times. Do your best to preserve the normal flow of your routine as much as possible. Maintaining established routines like getting dressed, (whether you leave the house or not), making a cup of coffee, or eating breakfast with your family can help normalize remote working. I also suggest taking breaks. When you work from home, the line between work and relaxation can become blurred. Create separate spaces for both activities so that one doesn’t encroach on the other.
Good luck and keep writing.
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