A lot of times I don’t even want to start a writing project unless I’ve become so obsessed that I can’t stop thinking about it over the course of multiple weeks. That’s about the level of enthusiasm that is required to sustain me in actually finishing the thing. So if I think of a great idea and then it doesn’t come back the next day and the next day and the next day to kinda poke me in the ribs, then I’m not even gonna try to write it.

I’ve struggled with anxiety at different points in my life, and in the last couple of years, I started having physical symptoms. I was having to take Benadryl in order to finish a presentation or show up on time, because I would be itchy and covered in hives. I went to my allergy doctor and said I think I’ve developed an allergy to this or that. And she said, “This is not actually physical. This is psychological.” The funny thing about it is that if you had asked me, “Are you stressed right now?” I would have said, “No, I’m totally fine.” And on the conscious level of my brain, I really felt like I was good. But subconsciously, my body was waving the white flag.

Ta-Nehisi Coates told me, “You need to say no to more things.” And I said, “I’ve gotten really good at saying no to things I don’t want to do.” And he said, “Yes, but now you have to learn how to say no to things you do want to do.”

My dad’s biggest influence is that he took me very, very seriously at a young age and kind of treated me like a grownup when I was, I don’t know, 3, 4 years old. And there are things about that that are not great, but it also made me feel entitled to take my own thoughts and ideas seriously as a young kid.

At the time I started writing for Marvel, I was the fifth Black woman in the over-eight-decade history of the company to do that. I grew up reading comics, and people ask me, “Is this something you imagined growing up?” And it’s absolutely not. I imagined it in the same way that I imagined being an astronaut or an Olympic figure skater. It feels completely unreal. When I go into a comic book shop and see my name at the top of something, it still blows me away.

When I’m writing comics, I usually try to listen to music related to the characters. When I was writing Ironheart’s trip to Wakanda, I was listening to Ludwig Göransson’s Black Panther score over and over and over. According to Spotify, I was in the top 1 percent of Ludwig Göransson listeners in the world that year. I’m waiting for my plaque to come.

Stillness is something I’m actively trying to seek, and I’m not great at it. Running is a way that my brain can be still even as my body is moving. And I have a really nice collection of fidget toys. If you ever see me giving a talk on Zoom, I’m always wiggling around and fidgeting just beneath the camera. When I was in college, I used to knit in class. I was listening and participating, but my hands needed to be moving. I had a professor take me aside and say, “I need you to stop; it’s distracting.” Last year, I was teaching a class at the University of Chicago and one of my students, a young Black woman, was sitting in the back quietly knitting. I wanted to say, “Yes! We won!”