Tag Archives: bravery

Writers, All You Have to Do is Ask!


While there are plenty of great editors and publishing consultants that you can choose to work with (and if you’d like to go that route, I would certainly hope that you would consider my services), sometimes all an aspiring writer needs to get themselves on track is to leverage their contacts. In the words of Morrissey in The Smiths’ song Ask, “Shyness is nice, and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to…” 

There are many steps to the writing process, but it can be broken down most simply to this:

1. Formulate an idea 

2. Outline that idea (optional, but strongly recommended)

3. Write like your life depended on it, and don’t look back. Any writer, if they’ve already done steps 1 and 2, can complete 90% of the work of capturing their idea without poring over every detail. Leave that to an editor, or if you want to take on the chore yourself (though it can be very difficult to be objective about your own writing), do it afterwards. Don’t waste time. Just write.

4. Edit your writing to get it to 100% 

5. Find a publisher

Regarding steps 4 and 5, but most especially step 5, if you have contacts in the industry, either people in publishing, other writers, or any other relevant ins, LEVERAGE THEM

I know that most of my readers are aspiring writers, and my services, though fairly priced, are simply outside of some of my readers’ budget. I can relate. I was in the same boat. I quit my job in the English department of Monroe College to really see what I could do as a writer. My friend Rairigh Drum helped me in so many ways. She knew that my writing needed MAJOR WORK when we were students at Beloit College, but she had seen some growth, and supported me along the way, as friends do. She let me stay in a spare room in her apartment in Clarion, Pennsylvania rent-free. She edited all my short fiction, making it much better, because I knew I couldn’t do it on my own (what writer could, we really do need editors). What happened? A string of acceptances. That didn’t happen before. Why did it happen? For many reasons, but most importantly because I ASKED for a favor. 

If you have people in your network who would be able to help you along the way, free of charge, LEVERAGE THEM. I’m always there for you if you don’t, but seriously, get creative and you can start advancing and not even have to spend a cent. 

In the spirit of this post, I’m going to ask YOU a favor: If you know anyone in the film industry, please help me out. I just completed a script with my co-writer Zubair Simonson called Brooklyn Blend. We just registered it with the WGA East. Think of it like Frances Ha meets Thank You for Smoking. The script is about a deluded Brooklyn hipster who thinks he’s a great musician, but really is a total hack, and how his ruthless ambition brings down a racist politician and lands a record deal. If you can help us get this sold or optioned, let me know (theliterarygame@gmail.com). See, it doesn’t hurt to ask!

I Can’t Possibly Write About THAT…

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath

You’ve heard people tell you to “Write what you know,” but what if you’d rather not?

The truth is that those embarrassing or horrifying situations that we’ve all lived through are some of the best places to mine for material.

I’m not a psychologist, but I know that writers must be tough. I’m sure you’ve handled rejection of some of your pieces already – all writers have. Now go one step further and find the strength to own your past, and transform it on the page.

A common objection from many aspiring writers would be that they would not want to expose themselves on the page in such a fashion. Their family or friends might know about these moments from their past. They may also fear the wrath of individuals involved in these situations.

Don’t succumb to those doubts.

As a writer, you have to produce and present your best material at all times. You can’t put second-rate ideas out there and expect them to be taken seriously. You have to dig deeper. You have to be courageous enough to be a writer, not a public relations specialist.

Once you resolve to do so, one issue to keep in mind is libel. That’s why you’re a creative writer! You don’t write a situation as is unless you’re writing nonfiction. You may have a germ of an idea from some specific moment in your life, but you transform it into something totally different. The characters involved are reimagined, as are the setting and specifics of the situation.

Now if that’s too hard for you, you can always just follow Anne Lamott’s advice, “give him a teenie little penis so he will be less likely to come forth.” 😉

When have you faced your fears and written about something based on a challenging moment in your life? I’d love to hear from you!