about Elizabeth

I’m the author of Girly, creator and editor of This Is Not Chick Lit, and writer of Boys for Pele which I keep promising is coming soon and it is coming soon! There have been some weird delays—weird weird things that you are not gonna BELIEVE when I finally explain it–but this book, Pele, like the album she is based on and the goddess the album is based on: she does her own thing, to an extreme. She is on her own time. I am not in control here, I work on her time, she doesn’t work on my time.

ALSO, in the past I created two acclaimed writing series for women literary writers in NYC,  and I created my own business in 2003, Elizabeth’s Workshops, which were classes with their own unique right-brain based methods and totally not-snotty, no-BS-lit-world vibe, in Brooklyn, which I shut down in 2008 because it turns out that running a business is freaking exhausting.

I have a BA from Yale, an MFA from Cornell, and an MA in Creativity and Arts Education from San Francisco State.

SO: While I don’t have regular classes anymore, I still do one-on-one writing coaching and book editing for people I like.

(these are the basics– find more info and actual ranting over on the About page)

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Boys for Pele: deep in the girl-zone

Hey everybody, I am leading a very low-internet-impact lifestyle at the moment, I am happy to report. I completely forgot how to even get on here and put up a blog post!  But I have now remembered how to do it,  so I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m currently deep in the writing of a book about Tori Amos’s excellent 1996 album Boys for Pele for Continuum’s excellent 33 1/3 series of books on music. (You can check out a recent NYT review of the latest book in this series, Jonathan Lethem’s take on Fear of Music by Talking Heads.)

The Boys for Pele book is very fun writing. For those of you who know this album, it is probably not a surprise to hear that it’s throwing me for a few curves and providing lots of mysterious transcendental surprises that are a total pleasure to encounter as a writer.

For various reasons I have to write this book really slowly, so I am using a method I read about in this amazing creativity guidebook by Lynda Barry that I cannot recommend strongly enough.

I am writing large portions of this book with brush and ink. I’m lucky if I get two sentences on a page! It’s ridiculous but my god is it so much better than what happens to my writing process when my brain gets to race and race and race.

It’s the yin yoga of writing. One of these years I’ll figure out a way to cover the floor with a tarp and have a writing class where we get all kinds of fun art supplies to make it even better than the writing longhand I’ve always required of my students in class.

When I remember I am posting little updates of these weird Pele encounters that sometimes pop up in this process as well as pictures of my weird crappy rough draft writing pages online at my experimental (for me: I am allergic to social media so we’ll see how long I last) semi-secret twitter account @elizabetherself.  It’s so freeing to just let the rough draft be a total mess on its own and to let little bits of it out, without Spanx on.

For the Toriphiles/EWFs, let me just say I chose to write this book because over the years Pele has pulled me in with her big-ass mysteries and then amazingly unlocked some of them–there’s a bit of a treasure hunt that is “plain to see, it is rising.”  But as I write all these other–to me–just totally shocking secrets hidden in the so-called “impermeable” lyrics keep offering themselves up. Last night Superfly landed at my desk and said: YO. And I was shocked I’d never really seen it before, this one little secret the album holds in the “Off with Superfly sniffing a Sharpie pen” line in “Horses” that so many critics could and did easily dismiss as associative trippy weirdness from a “kook.”

Yeah: not so much! Right now the Pele book includes this line (blame Pele, not me! I am of course very polite and would never do such a thing. . . ) where we all pause and take a moment collectively to just give said critics the finger. In case that line does not make it into the final cut, however, if you wish, please take a minute and do so with me now!

Honestly, I was scared, originally, to write about music but it’s turning out to be just a total joy.

It was hard at first to feel okay writing the book for deep-Toriphiles such as myself. As of now I’m not worrying about walking the reader through a sort of basic primer level of Tori Amos/BFP. Aren’t there a million articles by now that talk about the Peabody Conservatory and Y Kant Tori Read? Yawn! Not for me.

I will probably have to add something in later to cover those basics, but for now, I’m writing Pele so as not to totally bore people who have read many if not most of her interviews, people who are probably a little bummed if a Tori show doesn’t include enough b-sides, etc. Yet: as the themes and truths of Pele are universal, the book seems to be writing itself in a way that is accessible to anyone who is interested in creativity, self-expression, transformation, revealing hidden or “shameful” truth.

This book is about creativity in general, and women’s creativity post-feminist-revolution specifically. Boys for Pele is all about intense, uncensored expression. The album was central to my getting my own grounding as a young artist in my 20s, it was essential to writing my novel Girly, and it holds deep, and quite practical (“easy like one, two, three”)  truths on how to function as a creative revolutionary (that’s Pele talking about the “revolutionary” stuff! As I’m writing it’s so weird but I can really feel Chuck D energy in this album).

Anyway, I am just so excited to geek out on being a Pele detective, and to share this adventure with my brother & sister Pele geeks when the book comes out (so far as I know in early 2013. . . )

xoxo Love, Elizabeth

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#5 Mojo-Zapper for Women: Working through Exhaustion

Do you remember the opposite of exhaustion?

When you’re exhausted, you make decisions based in fear. This is inevitably the wrong path. Decisions based in fear will always leave you with giant messes that may take weeks, months, even years to fix.

I speak from experience here: during the first phase of my business, I kept pushing, pushing pushing when I was beyond exhausted.

The damage this ultimately did to my body took two years to heal—and this is with shockingly amazing medical miracles that landed in my lap like magic.

Get this: most people with the kind of health consequences I conjured up for myself take five, ten, even twenty years to even be functional in the world again.

I am aware that I am one lucky lady. Let’s just say my gratitude is enormous.

And let’s just say I learned my lesson.

But let’s also just say that a passionate, high-strung, jump-off-the-cliff, adrenaline-loving temperment is not something that just goes away.


Even at this very moment, as I type, about 25% of my brain is wishing desperately for 72 hours and a clone of myself to be magically folded into my world between tonight and tomorrow morning.

See, I really want to assemble some Ikea shelves, totally unpack my office, catch up with three weeks of one class I’m taking and two weeks of another, map out a 10 year plan for this one thing I’m doing, and also possibly do a whole bunch of leg lifts or something.

And make about twenty phone calls.

Of course, as much magic as I have received over the past two years, this extra 72-hours wish is clearly not gonna happen.

The only way out of the compulsion to keep pushing into exhaustion, for me, is to know that I am a total lunatic once I get wound up. To know that I absolutely cannot trust my instincts once I start wishing I could clone myself or rearrange the space time continuum to better suit my to do list.

I know that I have to force myself to stop. That I will not remotely be interested in stopping. That it will seem impossible. That the pull of the next thing and the next and my big plan I want to create is where every cell of my body lives.


My big trick here is: I just need one cell. Even just one molecule of myself that knows that I am working from exhaustion and fear and cannot be trusted.

If I can get that one molecule somewhere in my field of vision, I know how to listen to it.

(The only way I know this is from the huge consequences my previous mistakes have rained down on me.)

But I have a chance here, if I can get that one molecule of my being to know: this is NOT IT.

The list is not it.

The schedule is not it.

Do you remember what IT is, my friend?


Space. Light. Beauty. Peace. It is rest. It is breathing in and really seeing the garden in front of me. The pain in front of me. The joy. The great stuff that has come to me in the past few years and past few days.

The bullshit clutter that I can just take to the Salvation Army already. The stuff I am trying to do that I really can wait on. My own resistance to being exactly where I am.

And the beauty and opportunities that are exactly where I am, that without a nap and a day off and my brain away from my giant to do list, I would never have seen or even thought possible.

The opposite of fear is the space for miracles to happen. It is the space for rest and for love to come in.

And there is one more thing:


Get this: the average revenue of women-owned small businesses is still only 27% of men-owned businesses. According to the Wall Street Journal, this has very much to do with our lack of access to resources.

We are in a huge historical transition, where women are coming out of the experience of working with ALMOST ZERO RESOURCES. We are used to pushing and working and making soup from a stone. We are not so used to assuming we are worth actually having enough time to do what we actually want to do.

My theory is: when I get all strung out and am pushing through exhaustion, I am falling into exactly this trap.

Because there are resources out there. Because there is support out there. Because I always thought I had to do it all by myself, and this is what literally almost killed me.

And then once I was broken enough, exhausted enough, that I had no choice but to find and accept support and resources, the miracles happened.

I healed really fast.

(The healing process seemed glacial at the time, but that’s just because I’m such a fire baby.)

Lots of love came in.

Lots of opportunities came in.

My life started to shift towards ease in a way I never really understood it could.


So yes: exhaustion is in many ways the enemy.

But it also is my dear, dear friend: because it always shows me exactly how I am getting in my own way, how I am repeating my stupid mistakes, how I am resisting the amazing stuff that the universe is hurling at me, how to stop and shift and appreciate and rest and let all that amazing stuff IN.

Thanks, exhaustion! You’ve always got my back, and I will always be grateful for that.


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#4 Mojo-Zapper for Women: Psychic Vampires

Opening the creative doors wide can be tricky. . .

So you finally get a nice big chunk of writing time to really dream and create, and who shows up, but the psychic vampire.

Not Vampire Bill from True Blood, awesomely ESP-ing you that he’s coming to save your Sookie-ass from big nasty monsters. No, today, sadly, I am not talking about that kind of psychic vampire.

I am talking about long draining imaginary conversations. About worrying over people who really LOVE to get you worried about them. I’m talking about people you are constantly having conversations with in your head when you finally get time to sit down and space out at your desk and maybe even WRITE something. People who are not in the room. People who are most likely not paying your bills, yet you’re letting all this UNPAID WORK go straight their way . . .


What happens when you get yourself into the amazing state when you’re wide open to the creative waves you want to tap into is that you can very, very easily, through no fault of your own, tap into conversations with OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT IN YOUR BOOK. Real people! Not characters you’re hoping to hear from.

What happens is that rather than tapping into your book, into that wide open narrative awesomeness that is just waiting to come out, you’re more like . . . chit-chatting.

Persuading. Consoling, Mildly bitching out or making a point that is forbidden by you or the other person to actually SAY, in real life. . . You may find yourself lecturing, even. . .

Sometimes these people who psychically interlope are classic “energy vampires,” that is to say, big fat energy drains you’re keeping around out of habit rather than love or desire. (See Judith Orloff for more on this, she is amazing in explaining how the mechanics of the draining works).

Sometimes, though, the psychic vampire you’re engaging with is awesome, someone who you are happy to have in your life, but someone who should totally NOT be at your desk when you’re trying to pull in the muses.

I excised the big fat bloodsucking, personality-disordered extreme vampires from my life several years ago, but I still sometimes accidentally let my energy get leaky with people in my life.

I find it happening once in a while when I’m driving, these days: when certain friends are up against some problem that they aren’t quite confronting head on, I find myself having the actual (unspoken in real life) conversation in my head with them. It sneaks in. I get all lectury! I get irritated! I start making a PLAN for them, it is ridiculous.

The thing is: it is not my business. I am here if they want to talk about it, but until that moment comes, when it IS brought up directly in real life, it is SOOOO none of my business.

So sometimes, I’ll be having this imaginary telepathic chit-chat, then, thank god, I notice how gross it is to try to persuade, lecture, whatever. Ick! And I stop. The boundaries are clear and the conversation evaporates, poof.

It’s awesome–there is a feeling of off-ness when this stuff starts to happen. It’s become very clear to me that the feeling of merging energetically where I don’t belong is an absolute sign to move in ANOTHER DIRECTION.

But it didn’t used to be this way—it took a couple of years of meditation and of really paying attention to where my energy and attention are going before I could snap back into myself so quickly.

Another way it can play out when you’re sitting down to write is you’ll find yourself DEFENDING yourself. Defending having writing time, defending whatever choice you have made in your life to whatever parental figure never quite approved. . . .


1) Name things in the room, out loud: chair, desk, window, floor—whatever you see, say it out loud. Do ten things minimum. This puts you back in the now and gets you out of the vampire blood sticky hell pit.

2) Jump up and down, get your feet clearly PLANTED on the floor.

3) Embarrassing, but: just sort of yell “OUT!” a couple times. Then focus yourself, gently, on something pleasant and easy, preferably physically, like a cup of tea or something, that can lead you away from the irritating conversation in your head.


Sometimes YOU are the psychic vampire of yourself. With absolutely nobody else involved! God that is so tricky, isn’t it? I would love to see Alan Ball try to get THAT plotline into True Blood.

(The big mess of dead-vampire-goo that happens when you stake someone on that show, yeah, that is pretty darn accurate as a visual representation of the dogmeat we turn ourselves into through our worries and obsessions, no? I knew that stuff looked familiar. . . )

It’s true: Our little obsessions, the little things we just can’t seem to let go of, these suck suck suck our energy.

Sometimes it’s really deep, old family stuff, like feeling guilty for being the one who moved to the West Coast and escaped the dysfunction. Or feeling guilty for not having kids (or just as easily, for having had them.)

And then other times it’s just the stupid little freefloating anxiety of having eaten some giant bagel for breakfast or avoiding the hellish pile of paperwork sitting in a drawer.

The amazing thing here is that the fact that we can just as easily vampirize ourselves is PROOF that it’s not the external issue of a clingy friend or someone who won’t take care of themselves that is the problem: it is our OWN willingness to pour energy into this stuff where it really isn’t any of our business. Where it keeps us quite efficiently from taking risks and actually CREATING our own thing.


When I find myself having useless conversations with myself about my own crap during writing time, I usually these days remember to use one of these two tools:

1) Contain it: if it’s the big stuff, like family stuff, I just let myself know I can deal with it later. It’s complex, it’s big, and therefore it is idiotically unrealistic to expect I can fix it in the two hours of time I’ve got here on a Tuesday morning to dream and create. If there’s something pressing, though, if it’s really bad I will journal or call someone or something, just to get it out and get clarity, but I really hate to use my writing time on it and I try to put it off until later if possible.

2) Deal with it: If it’s specifically the freakin taxes I haven’t sent in yet or whatever it is, if I can’t contain it in my head ie put it off for another week, I just set a time to deal later and then it’s done.

But the thing is, that free floating anxiety will just find something else once the taxes are done: dustbunnies under the desk, what that random person meant when he said xyz, wondering if someone I love was trying to tell me something important and I accidentally blew them off. Whatever it is.

I can always find a vein to tap in myself, to funnel my energy into total bs rather than into what is risky, creative and useful, rather than putting my energy into any actual risky, quiet, gentle, actual productivity.

Therefore: for me, usually containtment is the way to go.

Writing time is sacred. Also: the vampires can’t come in unless you invite them, remember?


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#3 Mojo-Zapper for Women: Expecting Yourself to Focus

Without testosterone, focus is draining.

It is currently scandalous to say so, but: women’s and men’s brains are different, and women’s brains don’t naturally focus.

It Is All About the Babies

Our brains operate with something called “diffuse awareness,” according to my favorite relationship expert Alison Armstrong, which means we are constantly aware of many things at once.

(DNA wise, this worked through millions of years of evolution in which the ability to know the whereabouts and well-being of many small children at once was a HUGE ADVANTAGE.)

Also: Antelope!

Men’s brains operate with what she calls “single-focus,” which means they are focused only on the result or activity at hand.

(The DNA advantage here: to catch the antelope for dinner, you can’t really be chit-chatting or paying attention to someone else. Anyone who has even tried to get a cat off a ledge or a loose puppy back into the house knows: catching even an easy, domestic animal, you can’t really be talking on the phone or checking your email at the same time. )


This essential brain chemistry/total worldview difference is backed up by loads of brain science that has been coming out in the past few years, my favorite source being Louann Brizendine M.D., author of The Female Brain and The Male Brain.

I’m sure you can relate to the implications on relationships here—like why the messy house (diffuse awareness of infinite details!) drives us insane but guys can keep functioning in the midst of socks on the floor (single focus on the need to get out of the house!).


I’m REALLY interested in how our diffuse awareness affects our ability to sit down and write.

Well, I think it makes it excruciating. All that focus. On the computer. To finish and stay in one perspective. God! It’s really hard.

I personally have an extreme feminine brain—the extreme, sensitive, intuitive, ADD brain. It makes me a really good teacher. (It makes me a crap employee in our current masculine-energy-worshipping work world!) And it makes writing really hard. For me, I could only imagine my novel Girly as seven different voices at once—there simply was no single focus throughout it.

The Taboo Fact of the Day: Focus Is Exhausting for Us

As women, our attention goes to a million different places at once. If we’re writing a sentence about one thing, we think, oh I should be describing the setting not going on & on about this one particular character. We are always pulled somewhere else.

This is not the case for the male brain.

This is probably a huge part of why my writing workshops are full of women.

When you’re in class with me, I am leading you through precisely focused writing exercises. You’re writing with the group. You have a very specific focus which as the teacher I have created for you.

Also, I am constantly saying, “Whatever has your attention is the perfect thing to describe right now.” Read More »

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#2 Mistake that Zaps Women’s Creative Mojo

Battling my fear usually ruins my writing time.

Mistake #2: Trying to Escape Self-Doubt Before You Sit Down to Write

In a Conversation with Fear, Fear Usually Wins

Most of us have that icky dread feeling, to some degree, on many of the days we sit down to write. For me, it’s most days, especially if I have had to skip days due to, you know, life intervening, etc.

Momentum seems to banish fear really, really well, and when momentum is interrupted, that’s when the danger zone appears.

All the old stuff comes up: What am I doing? This sounds crazy. It doesn’t even make sense to any normal person who can read English. I need to just leave here and go get a gigantic decaf at Dunkin’ Donuts, immediately, either that or go get a full time job. Or something. Help. Crap. Help. Etc.

I don’t know if any of this sounds familiar to you? 🙂

Tangling with Your Fear Opens You to an Overwhelm of Bad Vibes

There are ways to have discussions with your doubt, with your fear. I personally have found it helps best to do this in a context very separate from my writing time, using specific neuroscience-based brain therapies like EMDR or Laurel Mellin’s EBT that literally rewire your fear rather than leaving you–your left-brain logic, that is–battling with it.

Fear lives in your lizard brain, the most ancient place in you, and it will beat logic every time.

The right brain, however, is where you live when you’re writing: it’s where insight, intuition, connection, and beauty can transport you to curiosity, momentum, fun, even peace, before the growly lizard even fully wakes up from his nap.

(If you try to talk to him, though, you’re definitely going to wake him up. . . )

But Isn’t Being Conscious of Your Fear What Releases It?

Yes. But so is action. Read More »

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5 Mistakes that Zap Creative Mojo

I thought my need for beauty was my dirty little secret.

This week, I have the first article in a series (woohoo! a series!).

(And these culprits are soooo not what you think they are!)

Mistake #1: Messy house or office

Ms. Perfect Kills the Writing Vibe

I used to feel really guilty that I had to make everything PERFECT on my desk and in my office in order to get to work.

Also that I always in the end manage to spend relatively huge amounts of time and money setting my office up to be a gorgeous oasis of beautiful right brain happiness before I can even start anything.

Sometimes I would try to barrel through writing even if the space wasn’t great, but in the end I found that anything ugly or seriously out of place just drove me CRAZY.

(Even if I’d made sure to meditate first, even if I used all my best writing tricks.)

Indulgent Primadonna!

And the thing is: I thought I must be a horrible prissy superficial primadonna if I wasn’t just totally focused and at the desk by 8am no matter what. I thought my need for beauty was my dirty little secret.

I thought it was just my perfectionism, that thing of trying to be so people-pleasing all the time.

So I would try to ignore my creeping ick feeling about whatever mess—the undone dishes, the mail in a pile in the corner, wearing whatever outfit I happened to throw on that wasn’t quite right for my mood. I would just try to be productive and ignore it, but the distraction was pretty constant.

This is the thing: any little mess on the fringes made me think, “Oh god, if you were remotely more together you would have ALREADY taken care of this.”

The Endless “Ick”

And what happened was during any little pause in the writing, any moment when I had to stop, think, be receptive, meander, my attention always went to . . . THAT. The ick.

And THEN I would be mad at myself not just for the ick, but for feeling bad about the ick!

It was like a massive mobius strip of self-loathing in response to a very minor bit of the debris that comes with being alive.

The energy drain wasn’t even about anything that is actually a big deal.

Sucky: I wasn’t getting to enjoy ANY headway I was making in the writing, because I felt so bizarrely awful about the icky mess in my peripheral vision.

Meet Your Inner Cavewoman!

It turns out that women are WIRED to be super-sensitive to all the details in our surroundings. It comes from being the “gatherer” part of the whole “hunter-gatherer” equation that our bodies have been designed for for hundreds of thousands of years.

According to my total favorite relationship expert, Alison Armstrong, men have “single-focus” brains and can tune everything out (socks on the floor, ladies?) that isn’t their primary purpose in any given moment.

For women, it’s not that way: if the details are off, we go nuts. Armstrong calls this “diffuse awareness,” which involves being aware of many, many things all in the same moment.

Wired into the DNA of our diffuse awareness is a constant refrain to notice the tiniest difference between the poisonous berries and the good ones. To notice the first sign of a sick child, or a spear our cave-dude forgot to take with him & left sitting out dangerously in the cave.

Our inner “cavewoman,” as Armstrong calls this survival drive still so hardwired in each of us, views mess as a threat.

So now, it looks like this: those freaking socks are screaming at us to pick them up. The dishes too. Clumpy mascara. The wrong shoes. The icky pile of unfinished paperwork. All of this taps into our instinct to make all the details in our physical space PERFECT.

So oh my god, what to DO? Read More »

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How I Outfox Crap Writing Days

Discussing meditation usually just makes me wonder what's on Bravo.

A lot of the tools I give to my students to make their writing easier and better are things I have integrated into my own writing and life so much I don’t really have to think about it.

Yet: I still have totally crazy horrible resistance-to-the-writing days. Monster days.

It reminds me of how a friend describes babysitting his two-year-old diaper-creative niece:

“Imagine Jackson Pollock. But with feces as the medium.”

Anybody else have THOSE kind of Jackson Pollock writing days? 🙂

What I Actually Do When I Need Writing 911:

So there are some things I do when the shit hits the fan. Or I should probably say, when I start spewing the shit. Or whatever the hell is going on.

One of them is to call Emberly, who is like my Bad Writing Day angel, who is a writer as well and one I trust and one who has been through it with me from the beginning and who has way more faith in me than I have in myself. This happens maybe once a month.

That’s when I’m sitting at the desk and already everything is awful and there’s no space to move, no faith in myself, no “just write” because I have completely lost confidence and direction.

This hell-pit usually has to do with feeling like if I just launch into writing something, it will be the wrong path and I will add more confusion and exhaustion.

The other thought that often occurs to me at this horrible desk moment is to eat some sugar, and if it is REALLY bad, to drink some bourbon. (Bourbon!)

The sugar I usually resist and the bourbon is thankfully just too complicated to locate out in the sticks where I live.

Avoiding the Sh*t Storm from the Start

The whole thing is: I can usually avoid these days completely. I have no idea HOW it works, but there is this five minute thing I can do that somehow keeps me out of the scary shit-spewing areas of my brain for the rest of the day, and that thing is this:

Freaking meditation.

I wish there was a better word for it. I will work on that. Because honestly the second someone wants to have a conversation with me about meditation, I start wondering what’s on Bravo.

The truth is this: the whole zen, calm, eastern religion, yoga-talk vibe usually leaves me craving some very loud Zeppelin, or say, some early, ridiculous, obnoxious Beastie Boys. Loud.

Unless the zen thing involves one of those $300 massages where they pour buckets of pure rose oil all over you. That variety of woo-woo-soft-speak-love-love I can totally handle. Read More »

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Avoiding the Query-induced Blahs

Are you a victim of the "Publishing Pause"?

I’m so grateful for all the inspiring replies to last week’s launch of the newsletter and site! Thank you.

I’ve been hearing from some of my beloved old-school Elizabeth’s Workshops writing students and it’s so inspiring–years on, people now have finished writing these full-grown, amazing books that I was privileged to help out with when they were just newborns and toddlers. What joy.

Love to hear it. And I can’t wait to read these books.

The tricky part is: it’s a serious pain in the a** to get a book published these days. And we have SO much of our self invested in our beloved characters, in all the brave brave work we’ve done to get the book out into the world at all, in all the love and time we’ve put in, in all we’ve learned about writing.

In the endless failures we’ve worked past to create this work we finally are actually PROUD of.

It can be really depressing. I am hearing of a LOT of query letters, a LOT of rejection letters, a lot of sort of blah news about a lot of truly incredible books that SO deserve to be out in the world.

If you’re in this boat: you are not alone. And I truly believe that many of the major novels of our time are still sitting in drawers.

I know: depressing. Ugh!

BUT: there are solutions.

There is amazing success and creativity and deliciousness available to you.

You just have to learn how best for YOU to flow around the big giant boulder blocking the stream. A boulder made of tons and tons of stressful query and rejection letters. And the hard, sinking feeling in your stomach these particular sorts of letters so expertly create. Read More »

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The Top 5 Lazy Girl Writing Tricks

Who else totally wants get up at 4am to write before Pilates?

This was originally going to be ten tips. But I realized: the uber-tip, the baseline of how to amp up your productivity and your sanity, is to cut unrealistic expectations of yourself in HALF.

I will be modeling this for you now: you don’t actually need ten tips. You only need five.

Because if you think you’re “lazy,” you probably are either actually a) overworking or b) in resistance. These are my top five potions to get at either one:

1. Give up the “get up at 4:30am every day before work to write then sell my novel & be famous” fantasy.

This is delusional. Unless you are one of the four people actually functioning this way, i.e., were in the military or have very dissimilar DNA from mine, it definitely helps to give up the fantasy expectation that if you were a real writer you would be able to wake up at some ungodly hour to begin your writing (followed by a Pilates regimen?) before you go work eight or nine hours at your day job.

The near-impossibility for most of us to keep up a schedule like this amps up our adrenaline & gives us a little “schedule anarchy” drama. (Meaning, clamping down really hard like restrictive overprotective parents inevitably leads you—or your body—to teenage rebellion with a vengeance).

I myself love a little schedule anarchy—I used to have such a strong taste for it that I overworked myself into so many crashes I got quite physically ill.

The point is: very, very few people can actually keep such a boot-campy schedule—it just isn’t practical for the long run, and it’s not loving to your writing or to your body. Setting yourself up for schedule anarchy puts all kinds of heavy expectations on your writing. (Which your writing hates, btw).

Crazy 4am writing plans involve severe denial about the amount of rest, sleep, meandering, and transition time every human needs in order to function on a basic level. Quick burnout is 99% guaranteed.

The boring, adrenaline-free truth is that it is so much more effective to consistently show up for a little bit of writing time (see #5) that fits into what your body needs than to try to amp it up and coerce your body into a panicky, forced vision of your life.

Read More »

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