Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday Review—You Think You're A Writer, Now What?

Today I'm excited to introduce Laurie Epps to you. She's a full-time creative writing student at Anderson University and will be interning with me this year. I've been impressed with her ability and her enthusiasm. I'll know we'll all benefit from her regular contributions to The Write Conversation. She also has a great blog, and I hope you'll all support her there, too.

You think You're a Writer, Now What?
by Laurie Epps

You've been told you write well, or maybe you just like to write for the relaxation, or maybe you've just kept a journal since you were a child. Whatever the case may be, you've decided you're a writer. If you are one of the luckier ones, perhaps you wrote to the editor of a local newspaper and had your letter published. But writing is hard work.

"Writing is easy, you just open a vein and bleed."
~ Ernest Hemingway

So where do you go from here? 

1. All writers have been where you are now. Staring down a blank page with nothing but caffeine and a deadline. What do you do? My first suggestion is to join a writers group or critique group even if you don't feel ready. No one will understand where you are at this moment better than another writer. Please, right away, find a local group that you can meet with regularly. You can check your local library, local bookstores, and even the internet for a cooperative group of writers.

2. Schedule time in your day, and every day to write. I know this daunting task isn't always easy, I am a single mother, college student, employee, and a writer, but it is just like those algebra problems in high school, you will only get better with practice. Make it your priority.

3. Be a veracious reader. You can't write well, if you never read anything. If you want to write young adult fiction, then read it, and hope you can emulate it. Do not take for granted to read at least one writing book for every five novels you read. Find the right formula for you, and stick with it.

4. Be patient with yourself. This is often the hardest advice to follow, Sometimes I like to think more of myself as a re-writer, than as a writer. Your best work will shine through if you take the time to comb through your text over and over again to make sure it really shines. Remember your work is your baby, and you want it to look it's best come picture day.

5. Spend a little extra time, scheduling your time wisely. We all remember that professor that would always know when you spent the night before trying to force out a ten page term paper. The best advice regarding writing that I ever received was to tackle your larger writing assignments in smaller chunks and then stringing these ideas together with a common thread that highlights the theme. Not only does this create unity in your writing, but also cohesiveness.

Come back next week, and we'll continue the conversation.

Laurie Epps is a non-fiction author, essayist, and poet living in Anderson, South Carolina. She is the proud mother of three girls, and dreams of returning to Paris one day. To read more of Laurie's stories visit her column at:


  1. Welcome, Laurie. You've written a great post. I like #5 in particular.

  2. You and Edie are going to have a great time together! Good thoughts. Now for that writer's group...haven't gotten to that yet. I'm on it!

  3. Hi Pat, Thanks so much for your encouraging words. My fifth point didn't entirely come from the sky, or due to my own brilliance. Instead, it came from some encouraging words from the journalist, Patrick Caneday. He writes the column "Random Thoughts on Being Human" and for various Los Angeles County Newspapers. However, he gleaned some of this knowledge from a book on writing called "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamont. It has changed my writing and my approach to life for the better. I highly recommend that you get this book.

    Hi Ginger, Edie is a doll. She is such a knowledgeable editor, writer, and friend. I think a lot of us struggle with seeing ourselves as writers. I know I did. I have written Poetry since I was eight, kept a journal since I was eleven, and even finished a 400 page novel in middle school, but I didn't think of myself as a writer. No matter what life threw at me, I was reading everything I could get my hands on, and writing down my thoughts and feelings. I went to a writer's group out of curiosity. I still didn't think of myself as a writer. No surprise there, but I met Vonda Skelton, and Edie Melson there. They encouraged me to write again, and write I did but I was ashamed to say I was a writer till I was published. Sometimes I still cringe. But it is who I am, and meeting with other writers revealed my soul to me. I hope it is as wonderful a journey for you as it was for me. Good luck finding yourself a group. There are a lot of good ones out there.

  4. Great post, Laurie. I like #5 ... well, maybe not like it, but it's the one I'd most like to achieve. A schedule in 2013. There, I've written it as a goal. Thanks.

    1. Thank you so much S. Kim Henson, it has been a very helpful for me. It seems when I don't take the time to carve away time to write, as well as writing an outline of what I will do that day, everything else falls apart. I, again, highly recommend Anne Lamont's book, "Bird by Bird". It has had a bigger impact on my writing than any other book I have read on writing. At least try to read this book this year.
      Blessings, Laurie