Sunday, December 14, 2008

December's LA Westside Writers Schmooze - Best Tips On "The Writer's Life"

In the Finale of their illustrious run as Schmooze Coordinators, Sara Wilson Etienne and Greg Pincus led December’s LA Westside Schmooze this past Wednesday night in a great think-tank style discussion of tips and advice about “The Writer’s Life.” 35 people participated in extending our appreciation to Sara and Greg, and everyone enjoyed the cupcakes, conversation, and camaraderie!

Here are some of the best tips shared (and if you recall others, or didn’t get a chance to chime in at the Schmooze, join the discussion now in “comments!”)

On What to Write

“Write your passion.”

“Write what you love.”

On How to Write

“You just have to have faith in the gradual accrual of pages.”

“Just spew it.”

“Just keep writing because you can’t edit a blank page.”

Put a cap on covering your eyes while you’re writing so you can’t go backwards to try to make the earlier stuff perfect… just go forwards.

On Making Time

If you have a favorite TV show and no time to write – stop watching your show and you’ll suddenly have that regular time every week.

Some authors put their kids to bed in the clean clothes they’ll wear the next day to school – it saves time in the morning!

Some authors let housework slide (“You can eat off my kitchen floor. For a week.”)

Write first thing in the morning while your gate keeper/built-in self-editor is still asleep.

Set a kitchen timer and you have to write until it rings.

Piggyback on another commitment so you write after or before you do something else that is set in your schedule.

Schedule blocks of time to write as appointments.

Try not to obsess so much on the “business” side of being a writer that you don’t have time left to write.

On Motivation

Set aside time just to write.

Give yourself permission to be quirky about your process (one author only writes at writer retreats, another only at cafes…)

Give yourself permission to write crap.

Give yourself permission to write as something positive you’re doing for yourself.

Set yourself up for success: leave yourself something fun to do right away the next time you sit down to write.

Try writing the first paragraph of the next chapter so you have an easier start to the next writing session.

Try reviewing your work from the time before as a way to get started.

Try a writing exercise to “limber up” your writing muscles.

Sometimes doing some menial task (making models, walking, etc…) can trigger your creative thoughts on your story – part of your brain is busy, freeing up the story part…

Use contest and magazine submission deadlines as motivators.

Tell some kids you’ll have it ready to share with them – you won’t want to disappoint them.

Get over your guilt about enjoying writing or taking the time to write.

On How Writing is Hard AND Joyful

“People like having children but they don’t like giving birth”

“Writing that perfect sentence – there’s nothing like it.”

On Community

Go to workshops and conferences and schmoozes – approach writing as a career.

A lot of The Writers Life is about building a community around yourself (for support, advice, and to feel like you’re not alone)

Take yourself seriously as a writer – respect yourself and your time, and once you do, others (family, friends) will respect you as a professional, too.

Just ‘cause it looks like you’re on the couch, um… napping, you are actually WORKING (thinking), and that’s hard for non-writers to understand.

On Submitting

You’ve got to send the work out!

“Eventually cream rises to the top.”

“Don’t throw something out there that’s half baked.”

“Never give up!”

On Impatience

We’re pretty much all impatient about the process.

You don’t want to send things out too soon. You don’t want to let your work sit in a drawer and never submit it to be published. And once you have submitted your work, it takes months and months… with all the waiting, what can you do?

Try blogging.

Submit stuff to magazines.

And start a new writing project!

Books recommended by attendees:

“The Vein of Gold” by Julia Cameron (by the author of “The Artists Way”)

Websites recommended by attendees: - register your cell phone, you leave messages and it sends you an email of your dictation.
– a place to have your work critiqued online.

Happy Holidays to all, and Happy New Year! Rita Crayon Huang and I (Lee Wind) hope to see you all at next months' schmooze on Wednesday, January 14, 2009. Topic: New Beginnings, First Lines! Check out more details on the Calendar, here!



ps- Thanks to Mara for baking and Graeme for documenting those awesome cupcakes!!!


  1. This is wonderful info! Thanks!

    And yep, those cupcakes look delicious.

    Marilyn Scott-Waters

  2. Never give up! Never surrender!

  3. That was fantastic! And, I have to agree. I am "never giving up!"

    Love the blog.

  4. Good thing I'm not a sweet eater, or I would've gained TEN pounds just looking at those damn cupcakes.