Book Passage Presents

On Writing

with Anne Lamott

A Live Workshop

Recorded live and broadcast: Saturday, August 8, 2020

Welcome.

Please log in with the email address you used when purchasing your ticket. Then click “Sign In” to display the video window.

That’s all you need to view the archive of this Book Passage event.

Anne Lamott writes and speaks about subjects that begin with capital letters: Alcoholism, Motherhood, Jesus. But armed with self-effacing humor – she is laugh-out-loud funny – and ruthless honesty, Lamott converts her subjects into enchantment. Actually, she writes about what most of us don’t like to think about. She wrote her first novel for her father, the writer Kenneth Lamott, when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. She has said that the book was “a present to someone I loved who was going to die.” In all her novels, she writes about loss – loss of loved ones and loss of personal control. She doesn’t try to sugar-coat the sadness, frustration and disappointment, but tells her stories with honesty, compassion and a pureness of voice. As she says, “I have a lot of hope and a lot of faith and I struggle to communicate that.” Anne Lamott does communicate her faith; in her books and in person, she lifts, comforts, and inspires, all the while keeping us laughing.

Anne is the author of seven novels, Hard Laughter, Rosie, Joe Jones, Blue Shoe, All New People, Crooked Little Heart, and Imperfect Birds. She has also written several bestselling books of nonfiction, including, Operating Instructions, an account of life as a single mother during her son’s first year; Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son; and the classic book on writing; Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. She has also authored several collections of autobiographical essays on faith; Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, and Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith. In addition, she has written, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Stitches; A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace, Hallelujah Anyway; Rediscovering Mercy and her most recent book Almost Everything: Notes on Hope. Her next book will be Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage (March 9, 2021, Riverhead).

Anne has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has taught at UC Davis, as well as at writing conferences across the country. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Mock has made a documentary on Lamott, entitled “Bird by Bird with Annie” (1999). Anne Lamott has also been inducted into the California Hall of Fame.

Visit Anne Lamott on Twitter

Visit Anne Lamott on Facebook

Visit Anne Lamott on Instagram

View Anne’s 2017 TED talk, 12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing, which has been viewed more than five million times.

Participant Questions

Check out the list of questions submitted by other registered attendees, and then vote to support any that match your interests.

Feel free to add your own question. Then spread the word to make sure others have the chance to help move your question to the top of the shared list.

  • 385

    votes

    What are your top 3 favorite writing tips?

  • 381

    votes

    Discuss outlining, organizing thoughts, structuring the narrative, then revamping, rewriting, tossing things out and all that sort of thing – and how closely you work out the outline before the first draft – if that’s what you do.

  • 375

    votes

    Have you had to battle internal resistance to writing? What are some of the reasons we resist acting? What can we do to overcome our own resistance?

  • 320

    votes

    How do you navigate maintaining (family) relationships given that you write about deeply personal topics, which can make folks feel understandably vulnerable/exposed?

  • 290

    votes

    What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

  • 269

    votes

    What are your thoughts on self-publishing?

  • 245

    votes

    Sometimes, I worry that I am not brave enough to write truthfully. Have you ever struggled with owning your truth? Do you have any advice on being braver?

  • 238

    votes

    Do you have a pre-writing routine, a sort of ritual you do every time before you write?

  • 219

    votes

    Do you have any favorite writing exercises or sources for inspiration?

  • 203

    votes

    When writing nonfiction and about your own life and experiences, how can you ensure you are getting close to the necessary honesty? What is the barometer or process for filtering your own bullshit?

  • 199

    votes

    At a recent writing conference a literary agent said this about writing memoir: “If you’re not a famous, successful person with a following, nobody will care enough to buy your story. Fiction-the-shit out of your true story and sell it as a novel instead.” What’s your response?

  • 185

    votes

    Please address the challenge of finding an agent. I find this the most discouraging aspect of writing. Even with my successful career in writing, agents retire and die, leaving me with no representation and no way to lick the system.

  • 170

    votes

    How does one go about finding a publisher? What is the process for contacting them? Does one need to include a query letter, a sample of what you are hoping to publish? Any and all information regarding getting published and teh how-tos are greatly appreciated!

  • 167

    votes

    Do you believe it is important to have a detailed outline for the novel before launching into writing it?

  • 160

    votes

    Could you please talk a little about POV and choosing the best POV for you novel? Thank you.

  • 153

    votes

    How many hours do you write at a time?

  • 152

    votes

    I just want to thank Anne for presenting this workshop. I’ve admired her and her work for a long time. The opportunity to meet her is exciting.

  • 148

    votes

    What is your favourite book published in the past twelve months?

  • 139

    votes

    I am known as a funny and irreverent live story teller, and friends and family often solicit my stories when we gather. Likewise I get (positive) reaction to casual emails because I write like I talk. BUT when I formally “Write” I have a hard time getting that voice on the page. Did you have to develop your written Annie-ness over time, and if so how? Thank you!

  • 132

    votes

    In a sea of publishing giants of a corporate nature, and an even larger sea of agents who seem impossible to find, reach, and impress…how do people make authentic connections with champions who help them break through it all and get a deal? It seems more likely to win the national lottery of Ireland while living in rural Ohio.

  • 124

    votes

    How do you approach research when writing the first draft?

  • 122

    votes

    I remember you said of memoirs something like, “if they wanted to me portrayed more positively, they should have treated me better.” Can you speak about that? Any regrets?

  • 122

    votes

    Any suggestions on how to make the stories within a memoir connect with readers?

  • 120

    votes

    I struggle with endings in my personal essays. I tend to start strong, but am seldom satisfied with my endings. Do you know where you’re going when you start a piece and do you have suggestions for improving this?

  • 114

    votes

    Is there anything you’ve written about that you wish you hadn’t?

  • 113

    votes

    In non-fiction and memoir how does one create dialogue? The characters are real people but their dialogue, unless a direct quote, is from the creative mind of the author. Fact or fiction if you make up dialogue?

  • 103

    votes

    How do you know if Your experience or what you have to say is appropriate for a book?

  • 100

    votes

    How do you move through the fear of getting started, and jogging your imagination? I remember writing story after story as a kid and loving it- no shortage of ideas. And now I want to get back to writing, but feel I have no imagination left, or can’t get past the initial idea in my head, I don’t know how to develop it further.

  • 95

    votes

    What are you writing these days, during the pandemic?

  • 95

    votes

    Writing is a solitary exercise, and getting published is all about putting your work out in public, for evaluation, rejection and the rare acceptance. How can writers reconcile the two?

  • 93

    votes

    Do you make use of social media? Do you recommend for publishing/promoting, etc? How do you protect copyright?

  • 92

    votes

    When writing a novel, do you create characters first or the plot first? Is one like putting the cart before the horse?

  • 86

    votes

    I began scribbling a memoir but am stuck because my brain wants me to write it as it will eventually be read. Please let me know if writing various “scenes” that will eventually be sewn together to create the whole story is an appropriate approach to getting a rough draft done.

  • 80

    votes

    Am a beginner writer, Have always been told I am a good writer, but not until now at age 77 have i taken it seriously- yes memoir writing. My 2 questions, well 3 really, are practical.
    1. Comes under the how many hours do you write a day:How do you structure your day? Are you strict about it?Do you have writing time set aside with your phone off etc. How do you fit it all in? how do you organize your day: 12 step, hiking, sponsees, along with publisher, emails, social media, husband, son family….
    2. practical organizational question is how do you file it all away in your computer? Do you write long hand and then computer?
    Thank you.

  • 75

    votes

    How is writing a first draft of fiction or creative non fiction different from writing the second draft?

  • 74

    votes

    Hi – should I rely on taking notes during the session or will there be a handout emailed after? Thank you.

  • 73

    votes

    How much elasticity in the truth do you allow yourself in telling a story to make a point? How much stretching the truth do you allow yourself before you cross over to fabrication? Can you exaggerate honestly?

  • 70

    votes

    Does a memoir need a story arc aside from the passage of time? If so what does it look like?

  • 68

    votes

    Do you have any tips for writing about your faith without seeming self righteous or preachy? You do it beautifully and I feel like a klutz.

    Of course, your sense of humor is part of your success. Any tips on how we can hone that ability?

  • 67

    votes

    How do you write about grief? Especially when you are still immersed in it.

  • 66

    votes

    What inspires you?

  • 64

    votes

    Please describe the stage after the shitty first draft: when to involve an editor (on the second draft?), how to find the right editor for your book, when to approach agents or publishers, when to send out a book proposal.

  • 63

    votes

    How are you pushing through to be creative & productive during this pandemic? I have a huge cloud of listlessness hovering nearby.

  • 60

    votes

    Sometimes I feel like everything I want to say has already been said by someone else much better than I could ever say it. How do you stay plugged into your authentic voice? How do you remember that people need to hear what you have to say?

  • 59

    votes

    Thanks so much for having this workshop Anne. Things are a bit bleak just now, so, I’m glad to get this ray of light. Thank you very much.

  • 58

    votes

    As a person of color — I’d love to hear your insights and favorite authors and books in this time of BLM, solidarity movements, and radical change. I love your three recommended books on memoir and those are some of my favorites as well. It would be so interesting to hear if you have any writers you admire and recommend who are people of color. Isabel Wilkerson, Toni Morrison, Coates, Zia, are some of my favorites. Looking forward to the workshop. Thank you.

  • 56

    votes

    Do you prefer to type on a computer or use handwriting when initially knitting words together?

  • 55

    votes

    What is the juiciest or wackiest question you have been asked about life or writing? Is there a question you LOVE answering?

  • 53

    votes

    What subject have you found it most challenging to write about?

  • 51

    votes

    In writing memoir do you have to contact every person you intend to include in your book to ask their permission to write about them? What if they say you can write about them but they have to read it first? How do you avoid being sued for libel if someone totally disagrees with what you’ve written?

  • 48

    votes

    This will sound like a similar version of a couple of questions I’ve already read. It is regarding the raw truth of my story. Outing others, myself and hurting/shocking/damaging my (grown) children. Speaking honestly about family of origin. Some still alive, some not. Change names? Don’t use names? It brings up fear and shame and is holding me back. Shit will come up for people. It’s already up for me.
    Thank you.

  • 48

    votes

    In writing a first draft of a novel, how do you avoid the pitfall of re-writing the (shitty) first draft before it is done?

  • 48

    votes

    In a really practical sense, how/when did you carve out time and space to write while raising a young son?

  • 46

    votes

    What makes a poem a poem, not just prose arranged in “poem form”?

  • 44

    votes

    I struggle with editing as I write, not planned editing, just the way my brain works and writing free form from the heart so I telling truth not “best look” truth. Any keys to balancing the freedom to write openly and honestly before self critique?

  • 42

    votes

    Must a memoir be a linear, through-line, A-Z story or can it be vignettes, each chapter devoted to a different memory, anecdote, or time?

  • 38

    votes

    The first line of each book you’ve written: Do you write it first, last, or somewhere in the middle of writing that book? What’s been your favorite “first line” that you’ve every written?

  • 37

    votes

    I worry about the white privilege that my memoir about my childhood reveals. Why should anyone care about my personal story in this time of crisis?

  • 37

    votes

    What do you believe is the most important takeaway of today’s workshop?

  • 36

    votes

    How do you reach out to others to get some perspective on what you are writing? If my friends are not writers and I don’t have an agent, how do you find someone kind but intelligent and articulate to provide you with meaningful feedback?

  • 35

    votes

    I am discouraged by all of the ‘rules’ given to newer authors, specifically avoiding the word ‘just,’ cliches, no prologue, and specific types of sentence structures. I follow all of these ‘rules’ but when I read the NYT bestsellers the authors do all of the things the fledgling author has been told to avoid. Any advice at how to reconcile the disparity? Should we write how we want or try to tailor it to what agents/publishers supposedly want?

  • 35

    votes

    How do you decide on a topic you want to write about?

  • 34

    votes

    What’s the checklist a new writer needs to follow, Shitty First Draft to Publish Author?

  • 33

    votes

    I admire the way you speak of God and to God and am always amazed that you can keep it just universal enough to include people who may not share your faith and yet you always honor God. How do you do it? It feels like your writing is one big long thank you to God. How do you do it?

  • 32

    votes

    Your sense of humor is fabulous and draws me to you work again and again. Was the ability to make your readers burst out in belly laughs a natural talent or something you had to hone? Please talk about how you use humor to convey stories and bubble up deep emotion.

  • 32

    votes

    Do I need an agent first? Am I too old to think I could have a career as an author? I’m in my mid-40s with nothing published except work related to my former profession. I have half of a shitty first draft, no contacts in the publishing industry, and I struggle to prioritize butt-in-chair with no end game. Do I write simply because I have a story or do you recommend getting a plan in place first with an agent/publication goal?

  • 31

    votes

    How important is it to get the small pieces published/noticed before tackling the big (novel/book) project?

  • 31

    votes

    Is your approach to nonfiction writing different to fiction writing?

  • 31

    votes

    You say to tell our stories.. that if people wanted us to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better. I’m drawn to write a memoir… But to be completely open could be hard on my children, my ex. I’m not only afraid to be open about his bad behaviour, I don’t want to be open about mine. Not for my sake so much (mostly), but for family.. Sometimes things are so hard as it is.. Maybe it’s just too soon. How can I write from my deepest self without harming other people, or dredging up hurts.. In ANY way.

  • 31

    votes

    When stuck on a story, how do you know if it’s something you should keep wrestling with or one that should be tossed?

  • 30

    votes

    What is good writing? Seems it is a “must-know” in order to aspire to it. Perhaps what was once considered good writing wouldn’t make it in today’s world… would love to hear your thoughts on this.

  • 28

    votes

    I’m very interested in being a freelance magazine writer as opposed to a novel writer. I know all the basics of writing and that you have to be a strong, interesting writer but not how to break into the world of freelancing. Do magazines still accept/expect query letters? Do you need to have been published somewhere first (what about, for instance, your college magazine or a city rag)?

  • 26

    votes

    How do you suggest turning memoir or journal writing into a piece of fiction?

  • 26

    votes

    I wrote a novel after I finished my MFA, and it started out okay-ish, but it seemed that every round of revision made it worse. I know “shitty first drafts” are your thing, and for shorter works I’m write there with you. But how the hell do you revise a novel where if you change something on page 154, it often means you have to change a bunch of stuff on pages 1-153 to make it make sense/work. Shorter question: how do you handle the revision process of a novel?

  • 25

    votes

    How do you gain publicity traction for a self-published book w/o spending all your time trying to drive social media users to your website/Amazon link? Especially in Time of Coronavirus when public speaking forums have disappeared?

  • 24

    votes

    Do you have a particular space that you write? I find, especially now during Covid, I get distracted by everything in my small apartment. Especially, the tv. How do you keep your focus? and have the strength to ignore everything around you?

  • 24

    votes

    Does writing for myself make me “less” of a writer than being a published author? I manage mental illness (Anxiety and Depression). I’ve found that submitting my work and getting rejected turned up the volume on my negative head talk. I tried to regard rejection letters as: Bravery, documented. I am still unsteady about the value of being published, for myself, I mean. So I wonder how to keep writing, working on my memoir, and perhaps not for the goal of publishing it. Am I still able to call myself a writer?

  • 22

    votes

    Any tips on how to “stick with it…” when I’m almost finished (be it first draft or second or 25th) I start to slow down.. procrastinate… It is the usual fear that what I wrote is awful, dumb, etc. and I need to push myself to keep going, get to the end. Not easy. Do you have any advice …?

  • 22

    votes

    Just Thanks.

  • 22

    votes

    Do you have any tips for writing good personal essays? Also, how to distill key moments and lessons into only a few pages?

  • 20

    votes

    I have prepared a time-line in preparation for my life’s story (which is pretty crazy) — Do I write from the beginning to the end, or just pick a decade and focus on that? I am STUCK!

  • 20

    votes

    What was your goal when you started out Anne? Did you want to get stuff down as part of your healing? Did you want to be published? How did you support yourself before you started getting regular writing gigs, and during that time how did you write when you had competing interests. At what point did you realise you had a gift?

  • 19

    votes

    What makes you laugh–deep belly laughter? Advice for finding more humor, especially during this pandemic and other tensions in the USA? Where do you find JOY? I believe faith and relationships are key components in your life, so I assume those provide places of JOY–are there others? Where do you “go” when the stresses of life weigh you down? Thank you for providing this space and inviting us to join you. I’m looking forward to this Saturday’s event.

  • 17

    votes

    Do you always write alone or do you have a writing partner? How do you deal with the isolation part of writing?

  • 17

    votes

    How do you know your personal story isn’t too raw to write about?

  • 17

    votes

    I am a writer without a platform. Can I overcome this if I don’t write a blog (I don’t read blogs, so I don’t want to write one and beg people to read it) or have an up-to-date website?

  • 16

    votes

    I have so much in my hear that I want to write. I am entirely stuck by fear. How do you push through it?

  • 16

    votes

    How do you handle negative comments about your writing from social media platforms? Bad reviews?

  • 16

    votes

    I have so many life events I’d like to write about but can’t seem to decide on one so I just don’t write. How do you choose?

  • 16

    votes

    How do you emotionally deal with forcing yourself to look back and write about painful events that have taken place in your life?

  • 16

    votes

    I haven’t written fiction in years and my confidence is really lacking. I’m scared I don’t know how to do it anymore and don’t have the mental bandwidth while raising two small children. Any advice on how to boost my confidence and jump back in?

  • 16

    votes

    How do you arrive at titles for your work? Do you have tips for creating engaging, memorable or fitting titles?

  • 16

    votes

    Please tell us how you choose the language and tone you use in your books. Does it just flow or do you consciously select (and reject) how you tell your stories, which words and metaphors you use, sentence length, when and how and why you add humor in your storytelling?

  • 16

    votes

    How do you feel about writing groups? Is there a strategy to keep the experience supportive?

  • 16

    votes

    Which is more helpful for an author- a literary agent or a promotional publisher?

  • 15

    votes

    How do you know if you’re a good writer, and people who care about you aren’t just blowing sunshine up your a**?

  • 15

    votes

    How do you feel about using index cards for structuring a novel?

  • 15

    votes

    I’ve been told that “writing is rewriting.” What is the difference between, or the boundary between, revising and rewriting?

  • 15

    votes

    My question is of a more practical kind. There are already so many smart and fantastic questions made. So looking forward to this!
    What programme do you use? I am a newbie, and I write in word on a iMac. I would like to know about snart ways to organise and edit. Which programme do you use? I understand there are different ways, it is not clear to me yet what to choose. Also I am reading a book about writing a bookproposal. What is your view on that? The novel I am working on is a biographical/spiritual/ fictive story.

  • 15

    votes

    Meeting you has been on my bucket list for a long time. Being able to do so through this workshop is a bright lining in this gloomy pandemic cloud we are in. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • 15

    votes

    In memoir writing, how do you pick out what are the juiciest parts that you feel compelled to write about and balance them with what the reader will want to hear?

  • 14

    votes

    how many people are in this session, as students? Will we all have our zoom cameras on? Or is this more like a webinar?

  • 14

    votes

    I have a treasure trove of letters written to my Aunt whose story I would love to write. What do you know about using letters in composing a narrative– legal aspects, etc?

  • 14

    votes

    8s there a book on POV that you think would be especially helpful to new writers?

  • 13

    votes

    What are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to other people’s writing?

  • 13

    votes

    Thoughts on pursuing creative writing Graduate degree? Beginner here finally ready to take the first step but feeling lost. For those attempting to write during off-hours (secondary to a full-time job), is there some sort of magical checklist to hit the ground running?

  • 13

    votes

    What are your thoughts on being formally educated/trained? Is it worth the time to to go back for a masters or even second bachelors if my undergrad is in another discipline? I’ve always been a writer at heart and wonder if formal education will improve my engagement with/understanding of how to harness the written word. I’m also knocking on 40’s door and can feel the walls closing in!

  • 13

    votes

    Can a writer be a “good” poet without coursework, understanding formal structure of poetry, following rules? Are there natural poets? Natural writers?

  • 13

    votes

    Markets for essays; tips on magazine freelancing; finding honest agents and publishers.

  • 13

    votes

    I’m interested in the mechanics (as if that was an ingredient in the secret sauce…) Pen or pencil? What kind? Yellow legal pad or composition book? Computer for original draft or only editing?

  • 12

    votes

    Could you speak of the deep intimacy that happens when you write so vunderbally with your great humor- that makes readers laugh, cry and feel OMG Ive felt that way and would never be able to say it… the unversal quality of total honest raw truth – the courage to write it and share, thank you!

  • 12

    votes

    Is it ever too late to start writing with the hope of publishing in mind?

  • 12

    votes

    Do you have any tips on building tension in a story?

  • 12

    votes

    I wrote in the present tense as I rode my bike for 2,500 miles except when I wrote about the shit that happened in the past. Now I am rewriting everything in the past tense and it feels odd and removed. Past or present tense?

  • 11

    votes

    I have no interest in publishing but would like to write about my life for my children and grandchildren. How to even BEGIN??

  • 11

    votes

    I’ve struggled with the genre for my book-creative non fiction or memoir. Mary Karr in The Art of Memoir mentions struggling with her first book for years until she decided on memoir. Any thoughts on that?

  • 11

    votes

    Do you ever feel like you forgot how to write? That you can’t access your creative well? Do you try to push past it, or is it advisable to sometimes take a break from writing/creation in order to replenish?

  • 11

    votes

    In writing my next memoir, I plan to research some of my ancestors’ lives because I feel their decisions and experiences have been passed down through the generations and have affected my own life. Any suggestions on doing this research, incorporating it into my memoir, and not getting too sidetracked by it? Thanks!

  • 11

    votes

    I’ve tried to create scenes in my memoir to tell a story. Then I fast forward to add a little bit of information from later in life. Is this acceptable?

  • 10

    votes

    Are there publishers that look for certain types of books, like poetry, novels and inspirational?

  • 10

    votes

    Thinking About Memoir does not seem to be available. Any suggestions for where to find it?

  • 10

    votes

    It seems like several great films were adapted from a book. Is there a technique for writing a memoir or non-fiction with the goal of that turning into a screenplay?

  • 10

    votes

    For those of us who grew up being encouraged and rewarded for compartmentalizing strong emotions: Do you have advice on how to take and keep the lid off the ’emotion box’ while writing? Often, while writing I go into a self-protection space and a needed feeling/emotion stays just out of touch. Does every writer experience this?

  • 10

    votes

    How do you know when you are DONE? And its ready to go …somewhere.

  • 10

    votes

    What is your favorite writing prompt you give your students? What is your favorite writing prompt someone has given you?

  • 9

    votes

    What about ‘the impostor syndrome’ and the shame that can come up from being authentic and vulnerable?

  • 9

    votes

    How long does it usually take you to write your first draft?

  • 9

    votes

    What are the options in voices (1st person, 3rd person) that can be used in a novel and what strategies could be followed to use a mix of voices.

  • 9

    votes

    My goal is to begin writing with no end goal of a finished story or to be published. This would be more as an exercise to get my gray cells working harder, my vocabulary to improve and hopefully along with it my memory. Is there value in taking writing courses without having a goal of being published? Thank you.

  • 9

    votes

    I find that I naturally write pieces that are 800-1000 words. When I try to write longer pieces, they don’t seem to work. Do you think we naturally are comfortable with certain lengths of written pieces, and if so, how do we break out of those “native” formats? My other question relates to what I call “crop rotation” (stolen from Joni Mitchell, I think). I am also a visual artist, and I don’t seem to be able to be actively writing and making visual art. It’s usually one or the other, and I go through long periods of not writing, or not making visual art. Thanks so much for doing this workshop, I know it’ll be rich and deep, but no pressure.

  • 9

    votes

    How do you feel about dialogue and quoting others?
    I’m interested in adapting a non fiction piece into a screen play.

  • 9

    votes

    I write non=fiction. Sometimes I have a story I want to tell and fine that there are some parts to the story I forgot. Do I ditch the story or say something like “I imagine that I did so-and-so here? to avoid making something up?

  • 9

    votes

    You’ve mentioned in your books pulling over and writing down what Sam has said on an index card. You’ve also mentioned having a pencil in your back pocket. In “A journal of my son’s first son” it seems you recorded in a journalistic fashion what Sam or Father Tom or Horrible Bonnie shared. I feel like a stalker at the moment. My question is: are you often stopping what people are saying to write it down? Secretly recording all of your conversations? I can’t remember if I just took my daily meds five minutes ago so I am hopeful you can share some insight on how you capture your moments, best advice and favorite lines from your favorite people.

  • 9

    votes

    I am well into a memoir, including the retelling of a difficult mariage to my children’s father. How do I tell the story, which I assume my adult children will read, without sounding like I am writing for the purpose to just bash him.

  • 9

    votes

    Where have you found your writing cohort, your writing tribe? Do you have one? Is it important to have one? How do we find support?

  • 9

    votes

    It’s impossible to write about my childhood without divulging details that most of my family will see as betrayal. How do you deal with the inevitable fallout after you publish memoir? Should I just keep my therapist on retainer?

  • 8

    votes

    I know that the best personal essays go beyond “the thing” and include ‘the other thing” that holds the deeper meaning and insight. Sometimes this “other thing” is obvious, but sometimes i’m not sure it goes to that level. I don’t want to “just paint a pretty picture.” Are there tricks to discover this “other thing.” Should it be clear enough that someone can say, “Oh, that’s what this is really about!”
    Thank you Anne! ps I have a returned card that I sent to you years ago, apparently wrong sleuthed address :).

  • 8

    votes

    Do you feel you are at your best at writing about your “core” when you are happy or miserable (hopeful or doubting)?

  • 8

    votes

    I’ve finished my first novel and have been querying agents since April. I have received great feedback and full read requests, some still out but also received rejections with feedback. I sent it off for a manuscript assessment so now I’m doing revisions and trying to incorporate that feedback into the next version as well. I am FFT’ing this big time as Brené Brown says and it all feels strange and out of this world yet right where I’m supposed to be. I just keep going hoping that at some point it will get in the right hands and I’ll get the right agent to bring it to the world but it’s a real emotional rollercoaster. I’m wondering if you can talk about that spiritual part of this process as that is the only thing getting me through – the knowledge that there is something working on this bigger than me and I have to trust it.

  • 8

    votes

    I was once advised to be as honest as possible in my writing, and I know when I’m honest my writing flows better. Any advice for how to write from the most honest place in my being and not edit out the truth?

  • 8

    votes

    I’m a copy editor who writes horror after hours. I have an incredibly hard time turning off my editing brain when I’m writing—it takes forever to get through one scene when my instinct is to tinker with every phrase like a mechanic under the hood. Any advice?

  • 8

    votes

    “Thinking About Memoir” is proving to be a little difficult to buy. Do you have a second recommendation?

  • 7

    votes

    When you began writing was it easier for you to write fiction or non-fiction?

  • 7

    votes

    I have these moments where, in my mind, the scene/dialogue is so rich that I frantically sit down and explosively tap out little vignettes and then the moment disappears as quickly as it came…or it leads to another memory that I then launch into. Oftentimes the scenes are completely unrelated, simply fleeting, rich, ephemeral memories that surface like jeweled mermaids from the depths. I have a bazillion little “explosions” of thought – on post-its, scribbled in notebooks, in draft form hogging up my email memory allotment. Is it wise to allow the mind to wander like this as a sort of exercise, or should I really be developing (and sticking to) a story line that then unfolds in a linear fashion, as it is written? Also, on formatting: I have a terrible time deciding between screenplay, novel, memoir, etc. How on earth is this best reconciled? Thank you, Anne!

  • 7

    votes

    As you have become more well known, have you found your writing change due to awareness that broad readership could affect your sense of privacy/anonymity?

  • 7

    votes

    I just started writing again – and finally writing down my story built up over last 40 years which I’ve really really been needing and wanting to do. It’s helping me integrate the past and heal things as well – but I’m not sure it’s “interesting” – as the style I’m using is not a lot of “first-person” and descriptiveness – but just lots of factual info details and personal story & chronology – because there’s so much! Is there a way to write my story so it would be interesting or valuable to others, beyond just stating things that happened? And maybe, this is just the bare bones approach to start, then could become a foundation for more later – yes, thoughts? Thank you.

  • 7

    votes

    My experience with the NYC publishing industry (via book launch parties for writer acquaintances and workshops in NY) has been oodles of Ivy League snobbery, and people who just seem to get off on being mean.. I am an experienced journalist, working on a memoir and poetry collection for years now.. I don’t think self-publishing is the route for me because of an invisible disability . As a person who didn’t complete college (I love that about you) what strategies would you advise for finding agents/editors who will help you find the right fit for your memoir or poetry collection without treating you like last week’s garbage?
    (I graduated from San Francisco State. What’s so bad about that?)

  • 7

    votes

    Where are a few of your favorite books? It was very interesting to read Stephen King’s long list.

  • 6

    votes

    Is it more relatable and effective in drawing people into your experience to focus on what your senses recorded rather than tell how you felt?

  • 6

    votes

    Do you consider writing to be a spiritual practice?

  • 6

    votes

    Have you ever struggled with feeling you don’t have the authority to tell your own story, because you don’t trust your memory or perspective? (I do.)

  • 6

    votes

    My question is not of writing, but of grief. I’ve re-read some of your work leading up to this seminar and realized I had not read these books since my father died unexpectedly last year. What are your experiences with grief now, with more years punched in your dreaded grief membership card, and do you have any additional advice (other than what you have gifted us already in your books) for someone grieving and seeking to write as an outlet for that grief.

  • 6

    votes

    When do you know that your novel manuscript is done and it’s time to look for an agent?

  • 6

    votes

    Publicity sells the book. How will we publicize now? How does one put together a “book tour” anyway, especially if one is shy? THANKS!

  • 6

    votes

    What’s your tip on how to get my question’s vote count up when I arrive to the party 230 votes late? 🙂 Thanks so much for offering this, Anne. I’m grateful.

  • 5

    votes

    I have heard that the first sentence ( or two) are the most crucial in capturing the reader. How do you come up with it? And do you sometimes come back to that part and rewrite it after you have written most of the story. Thanks!

  • 5

    votes

    Do you have any tips for writing short stories, especially plotting, proper length and writing to word count?

  • 5

    votes

    How do you know when you’?re done I write cozy mystery series and I’m not sure how much I should “carry over” from one book to the next.

  • 5

    votes

    When developing your voice initially and exploring different projects and genres, how do you decide where to focus your time on each project/manuscript?

  • 5

    votes

    In “Story,” Robert McKee says all stories are written from the inside-out: from a universal pattern, from which you branch out. But for Elizabeth Strout, she writes scenes for a few years and then weaves them together for a book (what one might call outside-in). Do you consider yourself an inside-out writer (starting with plot and branching out), an outside-in writer (starting with scenes, which you bring together for a narrative), or something else?

  • 5

    votes

    Use always paint a picture of emotion. “Pammy and I basked in Leigh’s love like lizards on sunny rocks.” How do you decide which descriptions feel and sound authentic?

  • 5

    votes

    My book makes sense in my head but it’s not flowing well on paper. Any tips for organizing content or transitioning from one these to another (non-fiction, personal growth book)

  • 5

    votes

    I’m afraid that I don’t want to write anymore. How do I know that voice is telling me the truth or silence that voice because it’s just my procrastination sabotaging my writing efforts?

  • 5

    votes

    What question do you wish aspiring writers would ask you?

  • 5

    votes

    Aspiring writers are often advised to “dig deeper.” I’m never sure exactly what that means. What is your interpretation of that advice?

  • 4

    votes

    I’m writing a memoir/history of an art community I lived in. Have a ton of interviews, memories, profiles, history of region, but still don’t know if format should be a story or textbook style. I just keep writing & figure I will ‘figure it out’ once I start putting it together. Have you ever started writing without a specific format In mind? Is it a narrative or a book like the Chelsea Hotel stories about eras of artists, residents living together or start at the beginning telling one long story? Do you get what I’m asking?

  • 4

    votes

    Nearly every time I hit publish on something I’ve written, whether it’s an essay or Instagram caption, I later feel embarrassed and regret sharing my thoughts. I feel good and confident when I’m writing, when words are flowing, but afterwards I feel like “what was I thinking sharing that with the world? That’s tone deaf self- involved drivel.” Do you ever regret publishing your writing?

  • 4

    votes

    thank you thank you Bless you for sharing with all of us!!

  • 4

    votes

    How much creedence do you give to the varied opinions/criticisms of your first readers?

  • 4

    votes

    I’m working to find the “why” in why I want to write. I’m a capable writer, have lots of stories and experiences. I just don’t know what my audience’s benefit Will be to make it worth reading me rather than a million others or what my own benefit would be. I need a purpose…

  • 4

    votes

    I am late to the party, but hoping this question will be addressed at some point: Any advice on how to mine our lives or the world around us for essay/story ideas? And once an idea is starting to incubate, how do you stay with it and nurture it?

  • 4

    votes

    What are your goals as you revise your novel manuscript?

  • 4

    votes

    To what extent can voice shift in a narrative? E.g., if the organization is chronological, is starting with a more childlike voice as you tell the story and then updating that voice as the story progresses in time a legitimate approach?

  • 4

    votes

    What’s the best way to utilize old letters and other memorabilia in a memoir?

  • 4

    votes

    This is not a question for Anne (the ones listed are great!) but a note – the Abigail Thomas book appears to be out of print. I can’t find it when I search in the library or Barnes and Noble online, and Amazon has it for $80! Maybe don’t recommend a book that we can’t get? Would appreciate a substitute suggestion though!

  • 4

    votes

    Have you experienced repressed memories surfacing, and if so, how did that affect your work?

  • 4

    votes

    How do distinguish between when you should push yourself to write (e.g. “Yes, I’m tired, but I need to keep up my writing”) or when you need to give yourself a break (e.g. “This pandemic has consumed my last atom of energy for the day, so I need rest”)?

  • 4

    votes

    I just started writing again – and finally writing down my story built up over last 40 years which I’ve really really been needing and wanting to do. It’s helping me integrate the past and heal things as well – but I’m not sure it’s “interesting,” it might be boring – as the style I’m using is not a lot of “first-person” and descriptiveness – but just lots of factual info details and personal story & chronology – because there’s so much! Is there a way to write my story so it would be interesting or valuable to others, beyond just stating things that happened? And maybe, this is just the bare bones approach to start, then could become a foundation for more later – yes, thoughts? Thank you.

  • 4

    votes

    Could you talk about your love of language and/or how to find the best title for an essay or book?

  • 4

    votes

    How did having a child change your writing rituals? If so, how did you balance keeping those rituals with being a mom?

  • 4

    votes

    What’s your best tips for next steps after the shitty first draft has been finished and walked away from for a time, so the writer returns with fresh eyes and then …?

  • 4

    votes

    How do you distill an entire novel manuscript into a pitch?

  • 3

    votes

    As a recent retiree, I’ve a number of ideas for articles. Often they include parts of my life or ‘memoir.’ Is there anything different to know about or approach to the short form.

  • 3

    votes

    How can high school teachers get teenagers to see the value in writing and tips on how teachers can teach writing better?

  • 3

    votes

    (I always ask authors this. It’s just meant for fun.) You’ve got a box of 64 Crayola crayons…if you had to eat one, what color would it be and why?

  • 3

    votes

    Do you find you’ve been more or less productive (in terms of writing) during the pandemic? It seems like the increased time we are spending at home should allow us to get more writing done, but I personally am finding it very hard to focus and concentrate (stress and anxiety take up a lot of psychic space). Also, it’s hard to travel or go out and have the experiences which provide good material for our writing.

  • 3

    votes

    Do you know where you are going when you start writing? If not, when do you discover you are going somewhere?

  • 3

    votes

    I found after my daughter passed at 16 i suddenly took on writing , it was cathartic and bloggy and people started telling me I should write a book about her cancer experience and our faith , I love writing , but what if the story has been done to death, is there such a thing as “flooding the market” I really want to share how we as a family managed through this tragedy but don’t want to be too preachy , we didn’t get a miracle , so no happy ending , no pretty bow tied at the end . Ive also heard that the only people getting published these days other than established writers are famous people selling themselves/ make up/and such , where is a good place to submit essays prose if its not enough for a book, how formally educated in writing does one have to be to be taken seriously? Thanks Annie, bucket list day for me !

  • 3

    votes

    I suppose because writing is all I ever wanted to do – nothing is truly real to me until I write about it – I have some truly pernicious bouts of Impostor Syndrome. Has this particular monster ever scratched at your window? What to do?

  • 3

    votes

    My love for writing started at a young age and I’ve been blessed to write for a living. At 41, however, I don’t find time to write for myself. I ache to write like I did when life was just me and I hadn’t been at work all day in front of a computer writing for someone else. I’ve resolved to give myself the gift of time to write more often. I’m curious to hear your suggestions on finding ways to write (the kind of writing that’s good for the soul), even if it’s just for a few minutes. Thank you!

  • 3

    votes

    How do you successfully reconnect to the energy and momentum of a piece that you had to pause — say, because you had to go to work the next day, or put your kids to bed for the 4th time in a night?

  • 3

    votes

    Something really big happened to me over a year ago and every time I tell someone the story they respond by saying I should write a book. I’ve never considered myself a “writer” but I have a very strong sense I should share my story. I know everyone has a story to tell. How do I start?

  • 3

    votes

    Could you please share some advice on creating a flow to a story based one one’s life. A life time kine seems important but so does threading old events to current learnings. The crux of my story is an encounter with Mother Mary in 2009 but it ties to my birth experience in 1959 and my grand niece’s birth 20 odd years ago. I get whiplash going back and forth. Thanks

  • 3

    votes

    I understand the traditional publishing houses have been decimated due to Covid. A friend in the know has also said online is the future for publishing. Thoughts? Thanks.
    PS. I love your authentic, wicked sense of humour. I’ve been flattered when people in the writing world have said the same about me.

  • 3

    votes

    I want to write about my adoption search and reunion and how it is interwoven with my search for personal and spiritual identity. My question is whether to tell this story as fiction or memoir. After rereading your “Traveling Mercies,” i thought it would be more powerful in my own voice. Then I read in one of the questions above the viewpoint from an editor that memoirs are only of interest if the person is famous, which I am not. I am not famous as a writer or in any field for that matter. I am the invisible, illigetimate child who does not even show up on anyone’s family tree. I was thimking of it in terms of the topics of adoption, search for personal and spiritual identity being of general interest. So any advice on fiction or memoir for this topic? I just read again your “Traveling Mercies” and I loved that it is in your voice. I love the authenticity, raw honesty, humor and emotional resonance. I would like to do that in my story. Were you famous when you wrote it? Sorry this is so late. I am struggling to overcome some psychological resistance as to whether this workshop is out of my league. I wrote a lot for my work but nothing personal like this.

  • 3

    votes

    How do I find the courage to keep writing after so many rejections?

  • 3

    votes

    What if one tends to write in a very flowery style with lots of adjectives as an example. I tend to intersperse that with punchy short sentences but I’ve been told by a couple of “instructors” it’s too flowery. What are your thoughts on that type of writing? Do I need to care if that’s MY style?

  • 3

    votes

    I have these funny , brilliant ideas for characters and stories while I’m driving Or washing the dishes or gardening or walking . In the moment they seem absolutely brilliant and funny . The. I lose them . Is there a way to capture these ideas and stories in real-time ? Do you have advice about how to capture these ideas ?

  • 3

    votes

    How important is sticking to one point of view? Does it work to switch out randomly to, for example, the antagonist’s point of view?

  • 3

    votes

    Finding a place for writing: Non-traditional spaces. Medium? Patreon? Others?

  • 3

    votes

    How has writing so honestly about your own trauma helped to heal your own spirit and soul…even as you experienced criticism and maybe even estrangement from those you love?

  • 3

    votes

    When I write from life, from the heart, words might not come easily for a long time. Then, suddenly and quickly they tumble out. Sometimes I can barely keep up. It’s as if I am taking notes as fast as I can. What’s the balance between trusting this natural way of writing and writing for a larger audience?

  • 3

    votes

    My life’s desire is to publish a collection of short stories and a novel that is memorable and has lasting value and appeal to readers. I write something, and I might be really happy with it, but I never have confidence it’s worthy, that others will find it worth reading/memorable. Do great writers feel the same, or when you’re finished with something, do you have confidence that it’s a great and memorable work?

  • 3

    votes

    What do you do when you get stuck rewriting the same section over and over?

  • 3

    votes

    As the demonstrations for racial justice continue, and with them, awareness that there are so many untold stories that need space, air, daylight, telling; and having some idea that the publishing industry is slanted towards white, how do you reconcile with all that: step back, make space for all those stories and elevate them, at the same time being able to commit the “I” to the page? Thank you.

  • 3

    votes

    What is your favourite book that you’ve written?

  • 3

    votes

    I started with personal vignettes, then moved to memoir. Now I am working on a novel which is a fictionalized compilation based loosely on real life experiences. My question is: does this qualify as fiction? Or is it creative non-fiction? Where to draw the line?

  • 3

    votes

    How do you know if someone more experienced in the publishing world (with better contacts, etc.) is already working on your non-fiction idea? I see a need for a particular work on non-fiction, but how do I know if I should spend the next year or more of my life researching and writing about a topic? And would it be a waste (in a financial sense) of my time to start on a big project if someone more established than me is already ahead of me on this topic?

  • 3

    votes

    This is related to question way up there about resistance to writing. What’s the point of writing if you don’t think anyone else will read what you’ve written, and you don’t think what you’re writing is worthwhile anyway. Thanks.

  • 3

    votes

    Concerning editing, what guidance do you have for knowing when you’re done?
    Someone asked a similar question, that I interpret as having a different focus.

  • 2

    votes

    Still waiting for the link!

  • 2

    votes

    Hi Anne! I finally have the wonderful luxury of being able to dedicate quality time to write to “publish” after close to a lifetime of journalling – my creative outlet and main form of prayer. I recently launched a blog that focuses on my travels, photography, personal perspective. Separate from the blog, I have several ideas of topics I’m itching to write about – fiction, my family heritage, a form of daily devotional/inspiration are just a few. My main purpose to write is to get all of these ideas out of me, but if I knew one story, or one format would be more likely to make it all the way to being published, I’d start there and let the rest wait. How can I research what publishers are looking for, what is lacking on the bookshelves? And I’m stealing this from above – What’s your tip on how to get my question’s vote count up when I arrive to the party 230+++++ votes late?!!!! 😉 I too, am pretty excited for Saturday!

  • 2

    votes

    What’s your approach to revising a novel? Have you ever taken several years to write a book and had trouble sustaining the same tone/focus in later drafts that you began with in the first?

  • 2

    votes

    Do you recommend an unpublished, budding memoirist write a bunch of essays first before tackling the big project? Especially if they’re already stuck/stalled on the big project? 😀

  • 2

    votes

    Please offer best advice on staying the course working with difficult material (be it buried, traumatic, layered) and/or slippery narratives (slipping through fingers but compelling and necessary), when one believes and trusts there is a great story to tell.

  • 2

    votes

    How do you turn memories/life events into fiction?

  • 2

    votes

    I was born as a mixed gender person I knew I was female (or different) at a young age. I have had peaks and valleys in my life. I have been widely successful with my career path. I’m nervous of laying my life bare but I am who I am

  • 2

    votes

    I checked appropriate questions that are relevant to my participation in this Saturday’s
    Workshop 8/8/2020.

  • 2

    votes

    I wanted to echo the person who said: “I have these moments where, in my mind, the scene/dialogue is so rich that I frantically sit down and explosively tap out little vignettes and then the moment disappears as quickly as it came…or it leads to another memory that I then launch into. Oftentimes the scenes are completely unrelated, simply fleeting, rich, ephemeral memories that surface like jeweled mermaids from the depths. I have a bazillion little “explosions” of thought – on post-its, scribbled in notebooks, in draft form hogging up my email memory allotment. Is it wise to allow the mind to wander like this as a sort of exercise…” because I suffer from the same affliction/gift. Also I want to share a quote that I think sums up beautifully why we MUST write: “Everything in creation is intended to relieve a need. Everything that grows, grows because someone, somewhere, awaits it.” -Rumi

  • 2

    votes

    240 votes late here as well. What are your thoughts about “staying in your lane”? I’m editing first draft of a piece of historic fiction set in SC in 1740’s. POV mostly first person, switching between Black and white characters. Nine years of research, three trips to Charleston, good intentions all might not be enough. Almost walked away dozens of times over the years but now committed to trying to get it out there.

  • 2

    votes

    How do you to choose which idea to work with, or which of several projects to work on? I feel like every time I get excited about something, I have ideas for very different projects – they’re so different that it’s hard to know where to start, or really get traction with any of them.

  • 2

    votes

    I’m trying to create an antagonist that’s not a cliche but still had the power to advance my story. I keep “finding” ones that lead the story down a blah path. Can I borrow your “handy machine” that takes my protagonist’s traits and spits out the proper foil? Or: How do I “try on” antagonists?

  • 2

    votes

    I have written nonfiction for years, and tried repeatedly to write fiction, but it feels forced and strange and not enjoyable, like wearing clothes that don’t fit right. Is that something I should work through, or should I just stick with what I enjoy and have more knack for?

  • 2

    votes

    I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression lately and can’t seem to make myself write. A little depression or anxiety is usually fuel for writing, but when it’s bad… I just have nothing. Any tips on pushing through the mental health walls?

  • 2

    votes

    I am on my third draft of my novel. I’m trying to cut things that are not important. How do you look at your book, scene by scene and make sure each has a strong enough importance to stay?

  • 2

    votes

    What’s the one thing you’d suggest keeping in mind when writing a query letter to an agent?

  • 2

    votes

    Are you competitive (with other writers) and has it ever crept into your writing? (Good or bad?)

  • 2

    votes

    How to get a co-author or ghost writing?

  • 2

    votes

    What is the method of writing a book based loosely on real events?

  • 2

    votes

    when I start writing I find myself copying your voice, which makes me feel like giving up. You write memoir and nonfiction so well, and I know I’ll never be able to write as well. Did you ever feel like you were copying another writer’s style and if so how did you find your own voice?

  • 2

    votes

    How do you handle criticism?

  • 2

    votes

    Tell me about your writing ritual.

  • 2

    votes

    How do you turn off your inner critic when you’re writing? Easy enough to do for the first draft, but during revisions?

  • 2

    votes

    I’m writing a memoir on my over 30 years of broadcast interviewing. I have a lot of great stories and anecdotes but I’m not sure how to structure the book. I don’t want to write an instructional book on interviewing techniques. Thank you.

  • 1

    votes

    🤗 Having a gathering like this almost feels like “before time” when we often met up to socialize, discuss and learn. Thank you Anne!

  • 1

    votes

    Any tips for how you maintain continuity from one writing session to the next? (I am trying to avoid binge writing, which means I need to end each session. I’d like to do that without feeling that I have somehow missed important details, which I might forget.)

  • 1

    votes

    How do you weave together the stories of two people who ultimately meet? Sequentially or every other chapter?

  • 1

    votes

    If you have a lot of different stories to tell / books to write, do you find that the cleanest place to start is your own story? Is that the one you have to get out of the way first for the others to make sense?

  • 1

    votes

    How on earth do you read all these questions without having a heart attack?

  • 1

    votes

    How do I get over the fear of people not believe if me when unwrite
    My
    Stories

  • 1

    votes

    My beta readers tell me I need more deep point of view. What is my main character feeling, other than hungry, tired, and savoring some alone time with her man? I’ve tried writing it, and it feels excessive and draws me out of the narrative.

  • 1

    votes

    GIRL. I have been trying to find this Abigail Thomas book you recommended, and the only copies I can find are over $100. Got any sweet hookups for this book without spending enough to unclog my sink?

  • 1

    votes

    I think I have some important stories to share but have never enjoyed writing, (Who am I kidding? Writing is an excruciating exercise for me.) I have written 52 chapters/short stories for a book but may need to explore Story Telling rather than writing and don’t know where to start. Any thoughts?

  • 1

    votes

    Hi Ann, I’m so grateful a friend told me about this workshop and glad to be joining you. Of course I love your book bird by bird and when you suggest other books on writing for me to read I’m very willing, so ready to jump on Amazon and buy them right now. Sometimes though I wonder if reading about writing is preventing me from writing. What role does reading about writing play in both inspiring one’s own writing and also perhaps delaying sitting ones butt in the chair?

  • 1

    votes

    Do you have any advice about getting family members to share the juiciest and most compelling details of family stories (possibly secretive ones) from before your time?

  • 1

    votes

    How much do you think about internal/external conflicts before you start writing? Or do the conflicts usually reveal itself to you as you’re writing?

  • 1

    votes

    How is the HONEYMOON phase? And, how is Sam? I admire you so much. You’re books have blessed me when the trauma was too much to bear and your words deeply caressed my soul. Some day I hope to do the same for others. Thank you Anne.

  • 1

    votes

    Can you talk about poetry. Do you prefer essay to poetry. I am a self-published poet. Sometimes it takes me weeks to tinker with a poem I try to keep to keep to one page. I’m wondering if I’m getting it wrong,, that it should flow more easily. Why do you think there is so little support for poetry

  • 1

    votes

    I find that I have some inspiration — a vivid scene co-mingling memory and imagination — which provides an excellent character sketch or conflict, and often have brilliant (or inspired, but others like them too:) 6-10 pp starts … then I am suddenly “out,” uninspired, bored, lazy? but recognize what I’ve produced is short of a “marketable” or complete, acceptably Aristotelian story, let alone novel. Is there a solution for this? Solider on? Relish a fragmentary sort of calling and structure? Help! I feel a bit guilty for not completing the story/ies, while at the same time, reluctant to turn to the formulaic or turnkey sort of solution for winding things up and endowing meaning, etc., for the comfort of the reader. (Btw, hope this makes sense; it’s late and I’ve got a sleepy brain, but want to get my Q in in time!) Thank you!

  • 1

    votes

    I am a TV writer working on my first novel. I’m finding that writing an internal POV is very different; any advice?

  • 1

    votes

    Twenty+ years ago a professor wrote on my paper that I “stick too much to the surface.” I’ve never gotten over that because I feel like I write honestly and deeply. How can I be sure that I really am getting deep?

  • 1

    votes

    I’m working on a nonfiction book and wondering if you’ll be addressing this genre. Thanks!

  • 1

    votes

    A huge thank you to Annie for running this workshop. I moved to Northern California two years ago and on the bumpy ride of adjusting to life here, your writing helped me come home to myself. Your books mean everything, thank you.

  • 1

    votes

    After watching your video above, I am really interested in how you know you are “done” writing. I am reading your “little books”. Currently, I am reading Stitches….curious how those books evolved. I find those books so joyous….interesting word choice….Looking forward to “seeing” on Saturday. Much love & gratitude, Marsha

  • 1

    votes

    How important do you think it is to follow the traditional protocol of a scene: Goal, Conflict, Disaster. Is that even something anyone cares about anymore?

  • 1

    votes

    I’ve written in the past under my own name, but have met with resistance from my husband as his profession has him in the limelight, and he feels that readers will assume the male characters are based on him. After agonizing over this, I’ve decided to write under a pseudonym. I know Rhys Bowen and other authors have done this (Louise May Alcott wrote several racy books under one!) and wonder what your thoughts are.

  • 1

    votes

    What’s the difference between a short story and a novel?

  • 1

    votes

    What are the differences among writing a memoir or a blog? If money is not a concern, is one medium more fun or easier than the other?

  • 1

    votes

    I work in memoir/personal essay and find that I am overall happy with the work( after many rewrites) the ending seems to fall flat, any suggestions for writing an ending that resonates as strongly as the rest of the essay?

  • 1

    votes

    Hi Annie. I used to think I wrote fiction. Recently, I reread my so-called short stories, and I’ve gotten a conscience about their being based on autobiographical events. Now what do I do?

  • 1

    votes

    Have your written about your son’s journey, and yours as his mother, through addiction? Was imperfect birds the way you did that? I would love to read how you navigated during his active addiction and how he came out of it. Love you and reread all your books often.

  • 0

    votes

    What inspired you to offer this class?

  • 0

    votes

    Others have asked the questions I was going to ask, so I guess we’re all in the same boat to some extent. That can be comforting when doing anything new. Thank you for offering this.

  • 0

    votes

    Is all ready asked and I voted!

  • 0

    votes

    I am writing a prayer memoir about the many prayer requests that have been answered while raising five children. Some of the writing is humorous. I keep thinking something is missing. What? I have been a newspaper writer and columnist, magazine writer and editor for decades and yet…. We have met a few times at your talks; you are so real, kind and fun. I am looking forward to Saturday. Be of good cheer!

  • 0

    votes

    How important are similes in fiction?

  • 0

    votes

    Dear Anne,
    I have taught your work in my creative nonfiction classes for over 15 years, and when I polled my former students about what book stayed with them after the course, they overwhelmingly responded: Bird by Bird. Often, in social media posts, they will mention just the words “bird by bird” as a piece of advice to each other. I wanted to let you know that you’ve been such a powerful force in my students’ writing lives (and in mine). I hope you read this.

  • 0

    votes

    Part of the memoir I’m writing was published online several years sgo. Butt I ‘m stuck and don’t now how to make the memoir move forward how do I structure what I’ve already written?

  • 0

    votes

    All of my questions have been asked and voted upon. Looking forward to this afternoon. Thank you!

  • 0

    votes

    How do you break into the world of textbook publishing. Or, getting your book on a list as a supplemental reader for a class?

  • 0

    votes

    Many thanks!

  • 0

    votes

    Do you (and your father-the-writer) write by pure inspiration, and entrust an agent with marketing and sales? Or do you contract an agent who already breathes the air of a proven market, and team up to write “on assignment” following your family’s Bird by Bird model?

  • 0

    votes

    Few books are translated to English. How can these readers be best reached if you didn’t win a Nobel or are on the best-seller’s list?

  • 0

    votes

    How do I get to the workshop?

  • 0

    votes

    When will we get the link?

  • 0

    votes

    Comment – You know that mystical occurrence that often happens in life ? Last week a friend of mine told me about this workshop. I was on the fence until two days ago. No OFFENSE. But I had not heard of you prior and $75 is you know .. . My brother sent me a book last week . ” Amazon Woman ” by Darcy Gaechter. Two nights ago I came to page 181 where the author writes ” While writing this book, I read Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott ” . There was my answer and here I will be with you and the others .

  • 0

    votes

    Where can I look to build a support team of people in this arena who can help me make a meaningful contribution.

  • 0

    votes

    I have writing ability, voice, style, ideas, description, narration, dialogue, but I don’t have plot. How do I create that?

  • 0

    votes

    What is the best way to do a word count? Do you use an app for that?

  • 0

    votes

    The FAQ indicates that we need to register for this workshop, but I do not see any place to submit a registration. Can we access the recording from this page if we are not registered? If registration is needed, please advise how to do it!

  • 0

    votes

    Are authors friends with each other or competitors? Do authors keep their writings to themselves until they are published, or do they share writings with other authors while in process of writing, running the risk their “great” (lol) ideas may be borrowed by others?

  • 0

    votes

    I have the first chapter finished and it’s rather good but now not sure where to go from here. Any direction you can give me?

  • 0

    votes

    ART ON A MISSION: Dedicated to Social Artistry & Love Activism my life’s work of writing and int’l award winning fine art Nature photography illuminate the Divine Unity of LOVE, SEX, and SPIRITUALITY through our most universal and common language — EARTH.
    QUESTION: How do I create, publish, and market a non-fiction “sex ed” book with my provocative nature photography?
    *I have celebrity blurbs and client testimonials!
    As a Photographic Artist and ICF Certified Intimacy, Sex, and Relationship Coach, writing and the visual “voice” of my images serve to ask and answer intimate questions like:
    ❓Can we enjoy inner-peace, deep love, and spiritual wellbeing without sexual enlightenment?
    ❓Can we heal the manufactured split between religion, sex, and spirituality which condemns our God-given birthrights to the pleasures of sensual intimacy and ecstatic loving?
    PURPOSE OF THIS BOOK: To engender an everlasting legacy of integral love and environmental stewardship which, in turn, sustains humanity and Earth’s biodiversity.

  • 0

    votes

    How seriously should authors take deadlines? Is it better to ask for an extension or submit on time but offer to revise or just submit and see what happens?!

  • 0

    votes

    I haven’t enjoyed writing lately, and perhaps like many living in isolation, feel hollow these days. I live with/take care of my elderly mother with dementia in a small apartment and feel depleted, emotionally, physically, intellectually. Have tried to write about my mother, and about other topics once if interest, but so much just comes out looking and feeling stale. Writing always revived me, but now I feel dead and empty on and off the page. Any suggestions?

  • 0

    votes

    Annie, I began my memoir having read “Hard Laughter” when Ann Brebner advised me to take your first workshop at Dominican in 1985. I read my one chapter and you told “knocked your socks off”. Now thirty-five, years, fully committed to my writing and legal research has caused my “happy ever after” ending to vaporize and the cruel twist I discovered took it to an entirely new level. My dilemma, since I know your theory about writing about family, my children are now victims in denial but their stories must be told…its truth to justice. What to do just when I see the light at the end of the tunnel/

  • 0

    votes

    What are the ethics regarding memoir workshop attendance. After attending my first such workshop And sobbing through my first public reading of that in class ten minute writing assignment was later gut punched when some of what I’d written was later published by another attendee verbatim.

  • 0

    votes

    Talk a bit about the expectation for published writers to promote their own work. How can that be done authentically without being off-putting?

  • 0

    votes

    How do I register? I have read to the end but can’t see a link or sign up area.

  • 0

    votes

    I didn’t think Anne would be down with taking $75 from a widowed mum with two kids who can’t afford to be doing this but registered anyway and now can’t access the session or reach anyone to discuss not being able to access the session. That truly sucks.

  • 0

    votes

    I write fiction, mostly romance, and there’s typically a lot more in my head that doesn’t make it on to the page. Usually I don’t notice this until I get feedback. How do I get better and better at making sure what’s in my head makes it on to the page?

  • 0

    votes

    Where is the registration link for Anne Lamott?

  • 0

    votes

    Thanks for offering this workshop.

  • 0

    votes

    I’m trying to write about my work; it is literally the most personal thing I do. A collection of essays is what I imagine. Any tips? Should I have a theme so it isn’t THE MOST BORING THING EVER WRITTEN??

  • 0

    votes

    Hi Annie. I used to think I wrote fiction. Recently, I reread my so-called short stories, and I’ve gotten a conscience about their being based on autobiographical events. Now what do I do?

  • 0

    votes

    Are we going to write?

  • 0

    votes

    Hi Anne,
    I have two quick questions for you:
    (1) What advice do you have for a writer who spends most of his time completing work-related research and writing assignments and meeting the obligations of family life, but who still dreams of creating something worthwhile with words?
    (2) I am the sort of writer whose “end game” is much, much better than his “openings.” What should I be doing to find the ideas and inspiration that will get me rolling on my next writing project?
    Thank you very much for your time. I am really looking forward to hearing your thoughts about the writing process.

  • 0

    votes

    Why to you like to write, what do you get out of it?

  • 0

    votes

    I’ve sent one email but I’m antsy. I have not received my personalized email to access the workshop this afternoon. When will it be sent? It’s after 9:30 AM EDT where I am.

  • 0

    votes

    I AM REGISTERED BUT HAVE NO FURTHER INFO AND AM SITTING HERE WAITING TO JOIN. wHY is no one monitoring the email address??

Frequently Asked Questions

On Writing is a live workshop, offered only to registered attendees on Saturday, August 8, 2020. We’ll record and archive this workshop so that attendees have the chance to return to it after the session concludes.

You can join this workshop via laptop, phone, or personal computer, so long as you have a good internet connection. We’ll provide you the rest, including the workshop-specific URL that only attendees receive to join the session. Once registered, please look for an email with this URL on the morning of Saturday, August 8th.

On Writing is a chance to spend time learning about writing with Anne Lamott, and to discover the essential things Anne has learned for herself about writing and the writing process. Please review Anne’s home-made introductory video at the top of the page. There she gives some suggestions and some suggestions for readings. That’s all you’ll need to make the most of your workshop.

There are no required readings, but if you’re curious about the way Anne thinks about writing we recommend her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You might also check out Anne’s TED talk, which is embedded in the page above, or some of Anne’s other wonderful books.

The receipt you receive via email immediately after you register is all you need to know you’re set for the upcoming workshop.

And the morning of the workshop, we’ll send you a personalized email with easy instructions for accessing the live workshop. This email will also provide all the details you need for viewing the workshop archive in the days following the live event.

Registration ensures that you join the live workshop on August 8, 2020 and gives you extended access to the archive of this session for 15 days – until Saturday August 23rd.

If for some reason your plans change and you can’t make the live session, we’ve got you covered:

An archive of this workshop will be available for 15 days following the live session. You can view this full archive any time during this period – as often as you like.

If you’d like a refund, we’ll instead credit the card you used to register for the session. Please send a note to pre.event@extendedsession.com, and we’ll confirm receipt as soon as we see it (We don’t need your credit card info – just your email address and date of purchase.)

There are two things to know:

  • Unfortunately, we can only accept cancellations and refunds up to 72 hours before a scheduled session.
  • There is sure to be a lapse in time between the time we refund your order and the time a corresponding credit appears on your credit card statement. So that you’re not left waiting and wondering, we’ll contact you as soon as we’ve processed the credit in our system.

We take data security and your privacy as seriously as you do.

That’s why we use Stripe to process your registration transaction. They take your credit card and secure your data – in fact we don’t even have access to your credit card number. Which is just the way we like it!

The information we do retain we protect carefully.

We’re committed to keeping personal information collected from those individuals who visit our website and make use of our online programming and services confidential, secure, and private. Our privacy policy ensures that we meet – and when we can – exceed most existing privacy standards.

Want to know more? Read the ExtendedSession Online Privacy Policy Agreement.

Still have a question? We’d be please to hear from you: info@extendedsession.com.