Jennifer Chen

“I don’t have time for self-doubt. I just have time to write.”

(March 25, 2021) Jennifer Chen is a freelance journalist who has written for the New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and Bust on subjects ranging from emotional labor and pro wrestling to miscarriage and the Stop Asian Hate Movement. She has an MFA and BFA in dramatic writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is an alumnae of Hedgebrook, a women’s writing residency. Jennifer lives in Los Angeles with her TV-writer husband, twin 5-year-old daughters, and a snorty pug named Chewbacca. She describes writer-motherhood in 3 words as: “longest shortest time.”


Where to Find Jennifer Chen
Jennifer Chen’s website
“What Pro Wrestling Taught Me and My Immigrant Grandmother,” New York Times
“Why I Don’t Want My Miscarriage to Stay Secret,” Buzzfeed

Stop Asian Hate Movement
About the movement
Atlanta shooting
Jennifer’s writing on the Stop Asian Hate Movement:
“How You Can Join the Stop Asian Hate Movement”, Jennifer’s website
“Yes, Calling Coronavirus ‘the Chinese Virus’ or Kung-Flu is Racist,” Oprah Daily
“Racist Attacks Against Asian Americans Are Still on The Rise During COVID-19,” Oprah Daily
“How You Can Join the Stop Asian Hate Movement,” Oprah Daily

Tisch School of the Arts
We Need Diverse Books

Authors, TV Shows, Podcasts
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
The Simpsons
Lindsay Eagar‘s The First Draft Method
88 Cups of Tea podcast
Tamora Pierce

sound bites

“I wrote for 15 minutes while I pumped. I was exercising a muscle in the dark. All those 15-minute sessions gave me the muscle to write quickly without thinking, ‘I don’t know if this is good.’” — @jchenwriter

“I don’t have time for self-doubt. I just have time to write.” — @jchenwriter

“In March 2020, my girls’ preschool shut down and my editor at asked, ‘Do you want to write about why ‘Kung-Flu’ and the ‘Chinese Virus’ is racist?’ And I said, ‘Yes. When is it due?’ And she said, ‘Can you give it to me tomorrow?’ What it taught me was that all those 15-minute sessions I did when my girls were six weeks old gave me the muscle to write as fast as possible.

I use my platform to help raise awareness, but also give people real tools to use; some simple things that you can do to help.

“The first days of motherhood, it feels like you’re running a marathon that you’d never signed up for, you never trained for, you don’t have the right shoes. But you get there.” — @jchenwriter

“Being a mother doesn’t give me skills to be a better writer, but it’s taught me how to write quickly. It’s taught me to write in my head.”

“You can be writing all the time. It doesn’t have to be on a computer. If I can’t get to something, I record myself saying it in a voice memo. All of that stuff has really added up to me realizing I have a lot more time than I thought I did.”

“I’m an only child. To have twins…I was like, I don’t know how to do this. I fed one kid and forgot to feed the other. Those things taught me that you’re gonna make mistakes, and you figure out what you did wrong and not do it again. It taught me to be flexible. I think I was a lot more rigid about writing. My routine was I have to be at my desk with my laptop and the perfect music playlist. Now I’m like, I can do it while I’m walking. I think that’s a really great skill to have as, as a writer and a mother.”

“Asking other moms for advice really, really helped me. Why reinvent the wheel when other people have done it before me?”

On writing about miscarriage: “That was the first time I wrote something that I felt really scared to share, and it’s one of the things people still write to me about.” — @jchenwriter

“I didn’t know much about miscarriage. In high school, they teach you about sex and pregnancy, but not the female body, when a pregnancy doesn’t go to term. I felt ignorant about my own body.” — @jchenwriter

“As a writer, if something scares me, it usually means that there’s something good there. I keep writing through it. My greatest pieces have come out of these places of vulnerability and shame and fear.” — @jchenwriter

“We have to read the same book over and over and over and over again. I think a lot of people think children’s picture books are really easy to write, and now that I’ve had to read some of them over and over again, I’m like, no, if it’s really good, I don’t mind hearing it five times in a week. If it’s really not good, then it’s like torture.”

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