Candace Bushnell: To write you need discipline

DISCIPLINED: Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell says writing takes the same kind of discipline that you need for sports or playing an instrument.
DISCIPLINED: Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell says writing takes the same kind of discipline that you need for sports or playing an instrument.

Candace Bushnell is the best-selling author of Sex and the City, The Carrie Diaries, Lipstick Jungle and more. Sex and the City was published in 1996 and went on to be the basis for the HBO hit series and two subsequent blockbuster movies. Kate Waterhouse caught up with the New York-based author during her trip to Sydney.

When you started out, did you ever expect your books would be so successful?
No. When I first started out, my goal was really just to write a book and get it published. I started writing when I was really young - I was first published when I was 19. I knew that I wanted to be a writer at the age of eight and I knew I wanted to write novels. So that was always my dream and my passion.

What is it like when you see your novels come to life on screen?

I'm usually really proud. I mean, I'm always really proud because there are so many people who put in so much hard work.

What do you think it was about Sex and the City especially that people love so much?

I think it's very relate-able and I think that women see a part of themselves in each one of the characters. And I think that the situations that the characters are in are - they are very modern. We are striking out on our own and having careers and then also trying to navigate relationships, and those are always things that women can relate to.

Of the four main characters in Sex and the City, which character are you most like?

Well, Carrie Bradshaw was my alter ego. In fact, I actually started off writing Sex and the City in first person and then I felt it was maybe a little bit limited. So then I remember I was sitting at my computer and I was like, 'I have got to come up with an alter ego and a name.' And the name just came to me in a flash: Carrie Bradshaw.

Are you as passionate about fashion as Carrie is?

Yes, I'm into fashion, but I spend a lot of time at a house in the country and I have a horse, so most days I'm in a pair of very casual pants - something resembling pyjama bottoms - and flip-flops. But I really appreciate fashion and I like the visual aspect of it, and putting things together.

What's next in the pipeline for you?

I'm working on another book and the working title is Killing Monica. I had a different title but it was very strange because I had sent a bit of the first draft to my editor and it ended up getting hacked. It's the times that we live in.

Tell me about your writing process.

Each day I get up, have an Earl Grey tea with lemon, read The New York Times, check my emails and then I just try to get to work and write. I usually work five or six hours and then I'll go and ride my horse and/or go mountain biking. When I am writing it's a very simple life, so then I'll go home [and] make dinner. I'll get ideas and I'll take notes while I watch a little bit of TV - sometimes The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, some sort of reality show usually - and then I go to bed and get up and do it all over again. It's a pretty disciplined life.

What would be your best bit of advice for someone who is just starting as a writer?

Practise. It's the same kind of discipline that you need for sports or playing an instrument. You practise and practise. I've been doing it since I was 19; I'm 54, so that's 35 years, and I feel like, oh, I'm really starting to understand who I am as a writer and how to say what I want to say. But it's a continual learning process. It takes a lifetime to do it and to master it, so every day I hope I'm going to be a better writer. You just keep refining it and you have to push yourself.

What do you do to relax when you're not working?

Well, I ride my horse and then I do dressage, which also is an incredibly disciplined kind of horseback riding. Other than that I spend time with friends and I have two standard poodles.

Sydney Morning Herald