Writing Tips from Jen Doll, author of Save the Date

Is there something you do to get into a writing mood? Somewhere you go or something you do to get thinking? I am one of those people who just loves working in my own quiet little apartment, with all my stuff around me. (I live alone, so things are calm enough to do this!) I don’t like writing in coffeeshops or public places generally because I get distracted and want to watch everyone. On the best mornings, I get up, I make coffee, maybe I poke around a little online, and then, still wearing pj’s, I start writing. But I also balance book writing with freelance writing work for websites and magazines and editorial work, so deadlines can pop up that I need to deal with first. My goal is to write something creative daily, to fit it in when I can, even if it’s just ten minutes (which usually turns into something longer). There are days that doesn’t happen, though. I try not to be too guilty about it, and to consider not-writing-but-thinking time an important part of the process, too. Did you always want to write? How did you start your career as an author? I always wanted to write. I told my dad I wanted to be a writer when I was little and he said something along the lines of “Well, it might be hard to make money doing that,” and so I said, “OK, I’ll be a librarian then.” Clearly, I loved (and love) books. My path to writing a book was a little bit circuitous, but after a few jobs that didn’t take—in advertising, for example—I started working in magazine publishing, and later I became a writer for the Village Voice and The Atlantic, which led to me getting my agent’s attention and ultimately selling my first book. What’s the best piece of advice you have received? A friend told me once, “Just open the Word document.” You can’t write until you do! And even though I can procrastinate and psych myself out of writing for hours—because the longer you go without writing, the more the mind spirals into thinking whatever you’ve accomplished up to this point is just terrible—once you’re staring at an open document, you start to reread what you’ve written, and you start to edit, and soon enough, you’re writing again. And that’s the part that’s really fun, even though when the document is closed it can feel impossibly scary. What clichés or bad habits would you tell aspiring writers to avoid? Do you still experience them yourself? Don’t spend more time asking people for advice about writing than you actually spend time writing. The only way to ever write a book is to actually just write it. And it’s a slow process, but you chip away at it and eventually, it happens. I have many bad habits, and finding ways not to write—tweeting and Instagramming and reading random websites and cleaning my apartment—is definitely one of them. (Speaking of which, I should probably clean my apartment now.) Do you ever base characters off people you know? Why or why not? Save the Date is a memoir, so yes—the “characters” are actually people I know, though most names are changed to protect the innocent and even the less innocent. There is definitely some existential angst involved in writing about real people. It’s nerve-wracking to think someone won’t like the portrayal; after all, I’m talking about humans who actually exist and have feelings and have the right to their own feelings about being in a book! (Just as I have the right to write it, and to feel my own feelings about it.) I’m working on fiction now, though, and it’s really fun to create characters out of thinish air. Of course, I can’t help but bring my own experiences and perspectives to them, and there are probably elements of people I know in all of them. But no one will know if I do it right. Read more about Save the Date here.

Writing Tips from Lily Brooks-Dalton, author of Motorcycles I’ve Loved

What writing techniques have you found most important or memorable? When it comes to revising something, I’ve gotten into the habit of retyping my pages. It sounds pretty time-consuming—and it is—but it’s so worth it. I don’t know how else to get that kind of fresh perspective on a sentence-by-sentence level unless you force yourself to literally rewrite every single line. After developing an idea, what is the first action you take when beginning to write? I’ll probably do an outline. Sometimes I just dive straight into the prose, but at a certain point I need to step back and organize my thoughts. Particularly if it’s going to be a book, I’ll end up laying it out chapter by chapter pretty early on. That outline will change radically as I get further in, but it’s good to have a road map. I’m a big fan of lists—I might make a list of all the scenes I already have in mind, or elements that I want to include, just to get it down on paper. If I’m stuck, a list like that is a great resource to look back at. Is there something you do to get into a writing mood? Somewhere you go or something you do to get thinking? I need a quiet room and a big, uninterrupted chunk of time. I’m at my most productive when I know that I can devote an entire day to a project—wake up with it and go to sleep with it. But if all else fails… candy. Did you always want to write? How did you start your career as an author? I’ve always written, but it wasn’t always clear to me that I could be a writer (whatever that means). When I was a kid, I really believed that I could do anything, but as I got older, it seemed impossible, like I was being foolish if I didn’t have a plan B lined up. I think the first time I really gave myself permission to at least try to be a writer was when I was an undergrad, working on the opening chapters of Motorcycles I’ve Loved, and my writing professor told me it could be a book. I’m not sure I would have allowed myself to entertain that fantasy if someone hadn’t given me the go-ahead. It’s an amazing gift to give someone—to give them permission to go for it. I wish it was easier to give it to ourselves! What clichés or bad habits would you tell aspiring writers to avoid? Do you still experience them yourself? Don’t use three words when one will do. I am totally guilty of that, I always have a whole list of adjectives that I cannot part with. What’s the best piece of advice you have received? Finish things. I forget where I first heard that, but it’s the most important thing I know about writing. It doesn’t matter how good your ideas or your opening pages are if you don’t finish your project. Read more about Motorcycles I’ve Loved here

Writing Tips from Andrea Chapin, author of The Tutor

How would you recommend creating and getting to know your characters? I write historical fiction—some of my characters are based on real-life people, while others are invented. But the process of developing who they are is very similar for both the fact-based and the fictional characters. When I began The Tutor, I did a minimal amount of research because I didn’t want the history, the facts, to get in the way of the story. As the novel progressed I did a tremendous amount of research, but at the start I was interested in developing the dynamics between my main characters, how they reacted to each other—so I hurled them into situations where their dialogue and their actions began to convey their personalities, their likes and dislikes, their anxieties and obsessions. I wrote the first fifty pages this way, so that I got to know my characters before I started soaking them with the actual history of the times. For all my characters, I bring traits of people I know, including myself. But sometimes, and this is the alchemy of the art, I don’t even realize who I’ve brought in, what ghosts from my past I’ve conjured in creating these characters, until I’ve finished writing. Is there something you do to get into a writing mood? Somewhere you go or something you do to get thinking? Over the years I’ve learned that for me there are no special places I go and no special things I do to get into the mood to write: I just sit down and make myself do it. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s very hard. There is a wonderful magic that often comes with the process of writing—the sentences or moments that seem to come out of nowhere and light up the page—but I don’t think there’s any magic to the act of sitting down to do it. You have to stay at it and feel as though you are stuck to that chair with Velcro. I guess I’m afraid that if I have to go to a special place or do a special thing in order to write then the process will become precious, even fetishized, and that I will lose the natural, organic impulse. I can work with kids running around me, dogs barking, piles of laundry undone, dinner waiting to be made, bills waiting to be paid, or I can work while I’m alone and there is peace and quiet. Did you always want to write? How did you start your career as an author? My first “novel” was a mystery called, well, The Mystery of the Green Glass. I wrote it in third grade, longhand, on thick yellow paper with a thick pencil. I wish I had that copy now! My third-grade teacher launched a literary magazine for her students to publish poems, short stories, and art. This was way back before computers were ever used in schools or were ever used at all. We painstakingly wrote and drew everything on mimeograph paper and then printed out copies on the mimeograph machine in the school office. I started my mystery “novel” for that magazine, and then I just kept on going. I remember the satisfaction I felt as the stack of yellow paper grew on my desk. A few years later, my stories became more personal: I’d sit on the basement stairs of our house, in the dark, and in my head I’d write very autobiographical accounts of all the dysfunctional things that were going on with my family. Decades later, after I’d published journalism and a few short stories, it was returning to my autobiographical voice and then publishing memoir pieces and personal essays that truly enabled me to find my voice and to launch my career as a writer. What’s the best piece of advice you have received? Stop talking about how you’re going to write—sit down and do it! Because the real learning starts when you commit yourself to putting the words down on the page. What clichés or bad habits would you tell aspiring writers to avoid? Do you still experience them yourself? For writing novels: I think it’s very important to get through the first draft before you start extensive rewriting and revising. It’s hard to know what that first chapter or those first several chapters need to be until you’ve gotten to the end of your story. I remember I wrote a novel in graduate school, and years later I looked at all the drafts of the first chapter that I’d labored over–draft after draft after draft where I tried to incorporate all the comments from my workshops and all my neurotic insecurities about a word or a sentence or tense (past or past perfect, etc.). I think I wrote at least twenty drafts of that first chapter. When I looked at them again, years later, I realized they were all pretty much the same and that I’d been like a cat licking the same patch of fur over and over again. I could have written a draft of the whole book in the time that it took me to rewrite that first chapter so many times. Learn more about The Tutor here.

Writing Tips from Elizabeth Berg, author of The Dream Lover

We know readers tend to be writers too, so twice a month, we’ll feature writing tips from our authors. Who better to offer advice, insight, and inspiration than the authors you admire? They’ll answer several questions about their work, share their go-to techniques and more. Now, get writing! 

Do you ever base characters on people you know?

All the time! And I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a writer who wouldn’t say the same thing. But. Even if you do base a character on a person you know, that person becomes changed in small or large ways to accommodate the story you are trying to tell. So in the end, a real person becomes a made-up person. That’s the way it works for me in fiction, anyway.

How would you recommend creating and getting to know your characters?

For some writers, characters just come to them, though they are usually vague at first, ill formed.  As the writer keeps on with the story,  the characters reveal more and more about themselves.

There are times, though, when a character comes out of nowhere, fully formed; I love when that happens. HOW it happens, I have no idea. It’s like finding a four- leaf clover.

Some writers are very meticulous about keeping notebooks, compiling details that will go into making up a character, and so by the time they start writing, the character is pretty much determined: how he looks and acts and says is less of a surprise.

If you want to write, you need to find out what methods work best for you. It’s always best for me when it’s FUN writing a character, even the obnoxious ones–in fact, the obnoxious ones might be the most fun to write.

How is writing historical fiction different from other fiction?

I think what’s most important in historical fiction is that it feels like the story is actually taking place in whatever time you set it. People need to talk a certain way, have certain ways of doing things, have certain expectations of each other, certain moral codes. Clothes need to be right. Food. The political and social climate. You take on a lot of responsibility when you write historical fiction. You have a contract with a reader that you will take them somewhere else in time; you don’t want them feeling like they’re seeing behind the curtain. It’s much harder than contemporary fiction!

Is there something to do to get in the writing mood?

Yes. Write.

I don’t mean to sound flip with this answer. It seems to be true that if you just get that first sentence down, another will want to follow. That said, I’m almost always in the mood to write; it’s what I love doing most. I think if writing is an awful chore for you, if you have to trick yourself into sitting down and putting down lines, you might be better off in another line of work. Even if you’re a good writer, if you don’t like doing it, what’s the point?

What is your writing style, in five words or less?

Intimate.

Read more about The Dream Lover here.

Writing Tips from Anna North, author of The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

We know readers tend to be writers too, so twice a month, we’ll feature writing tips from our authors. Who better to offer advice, insight, and inspiration than the authors you admire? They’ll answer several questions about their work, share their go-to techniques and more. Now, get writing!  After developing an idea, what is the first action you take when beginning to write? I try to get started pretty much right away — for some reason I can never make myself outline anything, or even do all that much thinking or research before I start writing. I think I just need to see the story on the page before I know what to do with it or whether it’s working. So as soon as I have the very beginning of an idea, I usually try to start writing the story or novel as I think it might go, starting from the beginning. I don’t know if this is actually a good system — I almost always end up rewriting much of the beginning, and for a novel I typically spend about a year writing and rewriting before I get to a story that actually works. But so far it’s the only system I’ve been able to follow.  Is there something you do to get into a writing mood? Somewhere you go or something you do to get thinking? These are pretty clichéd, but I like to make tea and sit in a chair by the window. Sometimes I even light a scented candle. If it’s a first draft, I usually write long-hand in a journal. I find the computer pretty distracting, and I can’t seem to get in a groove if I’m looking at the screen. The journal allows me to sort of slip into an alternate mental space where I can think about the story I’m trying to tell. Did you always want to write? How did you start your career as an author? I always wanted to write. Before I actually knew how to write I’d make my mom or my aunt take dictation. I produced several “books” this way. You could say I started my career as an author when I published my first short story in The Atlantic in 2005. But I didn’t necessarily feel like I’d started a career then. I wasn’t sure I could ever publish anything else, and for a long time I didn’t. When my first novel came out in 2011 I felt a little more like I had a career, but I still wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to publish anything again. I guess I’m not sure I’ll ever fully feel like I have a career as an author — I might always feel uncertain about the next step, the next thing. I do feel like a writer most of the time now, which is different from having a career, but which still feels good. Do you ever base characters off people you know? Why or why not? Sometimes when I’m thinking about what a character looks like, I’ll imagine people I know, but usually not people I know well. I don’t usually base characters’ personalities on people I know — my writing isn’t usually very autobiographical, so the stories I’m writing often call for people with particular characteristics that wouldn’t necessarily match those of people I know. If anything I tend to base characters on aspects of myself. If I’m trying to think about how someone might behave in a situation, I might think about how I might act if I were a little stronger, or weaker, or meaner. And so sometimes my characters end up being an expression of a particular side of me, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. How is writing a novel different from the kind of writing you normally do? I’m also a journalist, and writing a novel feels very different from that kind of writing in that it’s more inward. When I write a news story I’m talking to people and reading things and stitching it all together into a piece that says something about the outside world. When I write a novel I’m sort of going deep inside my own brain and building a new world in there, and then trying to communicate some of it on the page. Someday I’d love to have my brain scanned while I’m writing fiction and then while I’m writing non-fiction — I wonder if the activity would look really different. Read more about Anna North’s book, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark here.
Unabrow by Una Lamarche

Writing Tips from Una LaMarche, author of Unabrow

We know readers tend to be writers too, so twice a month, we’ll feature writing tips from our authors. Who better to offer advice, insight, and inspiration than the authors you admire? They’ll answer several questions about their work, share their go-to techniques and more. Now, get writing! What writing techniques have you found most important or memorable? Probably “Outline, Cross Fingers, Stress-Eat Thai Food.” It’s my own invention. Basically you just try to create a loose structure for your story, essay, or book and then hope for the best as you eat—past the point of satiation, this is crucial—directly from plastic delivery containers. How would you recommend creating and getting to know your characters? I think it’s hard to create a great character in a very calculated way, like in “Weird Science” when Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith enter all of their specifications into their ancient computer and then Kelly LeBrock manifests in a turtleneck crop-top. In my experience, characters start out fuzzy and one-dimensional, and then you have to sort of coax them into focus. Often I’ll get the germ of an idea from something I hear on a podcast, or someone I see on the subway (pro tip: the New York City subway, in addition to being a magical underworld of many nefarious smells and diverse crazy people, is basically a free vault of endless characters!). My high school art teacher once asked my class to sketch the shoes of a stranger we saw on the street and then make up a story about where they were going, and that’s a pretty good metaphor for what I do when I’m writing fiction. I’ll start with some detail, like shoes or an expression or a quirky personality trait, and then build from there. In terms of getting to know them, you can do a lot of prep work if you want (for example, one playwriting book I read—and by way of disclaimer I am not a playwright, so clearly I missed the point—suggested interviewing each character, on paper, in their own voice, about his or her life story before beginning), but I think it’s OK to start without it. The detail work—what makes each character interesting and idiosyncratic—often happens for me as I’m writing. However, it bears mentioning that in my nonfiction essay collection Unabrow, I am my own main character, so to get to know her I actually lived inside my body, endlessly picking apart my every waking thought twenty-four hours a day for 34 years. It’s very Daniel Day-Lewis and not for the faint of heart. After developing an idea, what is the first action you take when beginning to write?  If there is anything in my life that I can turn into a list or outline, I will do it. It is a fact that I once TO DO-ed my shower regimen (wash face; shampoo; rinse; body wash; rinse; condition; shave legs; rinse conditioner; stop being such a sociopath; towel dry), so it follows that I like to summarize and outline my work to within an inch of its life. Usually I’ll start by writing a one-page summary of the idea and then developing that into a longer outline. With Unabrow, since it’s comprised of 20 shorter essays, I made a big chart on two pieces of poster board with boxes for each essay and the life event or theme it would tackle. Then I covered it in color-coded Post-Its and impulsive scrawls of illegible handwriting so that the finished product looked like something a serial killer might make after finally reading through her backlog of Real Simple magazines. Is there something you do to get into a writing mood? Somewhere you go or something you do to get thinking?  I have to trick myself into getting inspired, since actively trying to think of what to write about tends to make my brain short-circuit, open up a Netflix window, and stream old episodes of 90s sitcoms until the thinking subsides. Just taking a walk and running some errands usually helps, the more boring the better. The only downside to this practice is that I tend to like to talk out loud to myself when I’m generating ideas, so I look insane. About half the time I realize, much too late, that I can use my cell phone as a cover. Did you always want to write? How did you start your career as an author?  I have this file my parents collected for me of a bunch of stories and poems I did starting around age six and going through high school. They’re almost all either insanely short or unfinished, and largely terrible, but they were clearly labors of love. So I like to believe that I was always a writer in my soul of souls, but was just scared to try to do it in any serious way until my late twenties. I remember not wanting to major in English in college because so many people majored in English—I tried to play it like it was such a cliché, but really I think I was afraid of the competition. So instead, I majored in film studies, because I liked movies. Then, because at the time I was under the incredibly misguided impression that your undergraduate liberal arts major should determine what you do with your entire life, I started working in film—mostly doing archival research for the kinds of documentary television specials that involve slo-mo reenactments of people riding horses and brandishing muskets. While I was doing that I started a blog, which became, almost a decade later, the springboard for Unabrow. But, if I’m being honest, the main reason I’m writing professionally right now is that I got unceremoniously fired from my job in 2006. I was just sort of blindly continuing on a path I didn’t really like—archival research was neither my strength nor my jam—but I never would have quit, so really I’m lucky that I sucked enough to warrant getting the boot. After that, I made a conscious decision to try to become a writer. What that meant to me, at the time, was applying for an office manager job at a magazine, ingratiating myself with the editorial staff, and then pestering them with my writing until they published something (for free, of course). Amazingly, it worked. I moved up from office manager to managing editor and bounced around New York-based magazines and newspapers writing celebrity profiles and pithy headlines about purses until 2011, when I went on maternity leave. After I realized how little I made as an editor and how much full-time childcare would cost, I decided to try to freelance and stay home with my kid. I can’t in good conscience recommend this as a general strategy, but for me, becoming broke and desperate while simultaneously completely sleep-deprived led me to take risks that I would never previously have dared. On the suggestion of a friend who worked in publishing, I decided to try my hand at young adult novels, which resulted in a two-book deal with Razorbill (Five Summers, 2013; Like No Other, 2014). Then, in the frigid winter of 2012, I auditioned for a live reading in New York called Listen to Your Mother. I got in, performed an original comic piece on all of the mistakes I had made that I wanted my future children to avoid, and received an email the next day from Brettne Bloom—now my amazing literary agent—who had been in the audience and who would go on to shepherd Unabrow to a sale at auction in the summer of 2013. Either Seneca the Younger or Oprah Winfrey (you’re no help, Google) said, “luck is when preparedness meets opportunity,” but I think my story proves that luck can also be made from a murky mixture of professional misjudgments, procrastination, hope, fear, and many, many hours of television. What’s the best piece of advice you have received?  Once, during a film class in college, my brilliant professor Jeanine Basinger said that all movies share the same dozen or so plots when you get down to it, and that what makes a story really unique is how the filmmaker tells it. I have applied this to writing and taken it to mean that coming up with a story that no one else has ever thought of before (“Twilight, but with centaurs! And one of them has MS!”) is near-impossible, but that it doesn’t matter. The thing that will make your story one of a kind is your voice. If your dream is to create the next insane dystopian franchise, have at it. But if it’s not, don’t be afraid that your story’s already out there; it can’t be. No one can tell it the way you can. What clichés or bad habits would you tell aspiring writers to avoid? Do you still experience them yourself?  My downfall will be my ability to procrastinate and avoid writing. I do it so much that I had to install software on my computer to block the Internet and shame me when I inevitably attempt to check email or Twitter every nine to eleven seconds. I don’t believe you have to write every day, or at a set time for a set duration, to be a good and successful writer, but I do think you have to muster enough willpower to do it at least a few times a week in a focused way. In terms of clichés and bad habits in the writing itself, it’s hard to give specific examples. Sometimes clichés work, and one person’s bad habit is someone else’s favorite thing. But here are a few things I do that I’m trying to stop doing:
  • Sticking unnecessary adverbs in after lines of dialogue. Like, “I don’t seem to trust my readers to infer tone from what’s being said,” she said worriedly.
  • I like to cram as many words/jokes into a sentence as humanly possible—often including asides within dashes (or parentheses!)—and while my aim is to amp up the humor with verbosity, I realize that it often has the opposite effect. If a line is poignant or funny, it’ll usually have more impact if it’s pared down to its most essential words.
  • Having characters live too much in their own heads. It’s always better to show how someone feels through action and dialogue than to tell it to readers directly through the person’s inner monologue.
  • Dropping too many pop culture references that will date the writing. I live for pop culture. I love it. It’s an essential part of who I am and how I see the world. But as fun as it is to weave current events into fictional scenes, remember that (hopefully) your book will still be kicking around decades from now, and that it will interrupt the narrative flow for our future cyborg relatives to have to pause to do a GoogleBrain™ scan for “Kimye.”
Describe your writing style in 5 words or less. Clever conversation with tipsy friend. Do you ever base characters off people you know? Why or why not? I don’t base an entire character’s personality on anyone specific, but I absolutely borrow traits and quirks. Part of it is just that it makes developing characters easier if you can pick details out of real life experience, but also I love leaving Easter eggs for my family and friends to recognize. I’ll only use something if it’s flattering or if it’s funny enough that it won’t be taken seriously (for example, a good friend of mine is really into Eastern medicine—specifically colonic therapy—and so I had a camper in Five Summers with her same first name reading a book about it. She took it in stride.) Obviously in my nonfiction I write about my husband, my parents, and other assorted real people whom I love and don’t want to hate and/or divorce me, so I tread very carefully with how I depict them. I’m willing to poke fun at some of their personality traits, but again, only if I’m reasonably sure they won’t be offended. Even just describing someone I know in real life can be frightening, because what if they read it and think, “Is that how she sees me?” I keep telling my friends that there’s almost nothing about them in Unabrow but that it’s because I love them too much to risk it. (For the record, I love my husband, my parents, and my sister, too, but since they’re the closest people to me in the world they’ve already accepted that there’s no escape. Sad trombone for them.) Read more about Una LaMarche‘s book, Unabrow, here  
everything you ever wanted by jillian lauren

Writing Tips from Jillian Lauren: My 3 Favorite Writing Tips You’re Going to Hate

We know readers tend to be writers too, so twice a month, we’ll feature writing tips from our authors. Who better to offer advice, insight, and inspiration than the authors you admire? They’ll answer several questions about their work, share their go-to techniques and more. Now, get writing!  Write a s***ty first draft. If I could give you only one piece of advice, it would be this. I didn’t make up—I heard it from Anne Lamott— thanks, Anne! Anne Lamott didn’t make it up either. Every writer since the beginning of time has written some god-awful, hideous nonsense at one time or another. I write straight through to the end of a book without once looking back. Not everyone does it this way— some people edit as they go. But for me, this is a great way to get out from under your own self-judgment. Sometimes I barely even punctuate my first drafts. I like to soft focus my eyes and write as if in a trance, going on tangents, allowing the most treacly sentimentality and absurd hyperbole. I breathe and write and try to open my mind to the click, the spark, the flow. I soldier on this way until The End. By that time I usually have some idea of what my book is about. It’s never what I thought when I started. Move around. Take a walk. Stretch. Breathe. Don’t live in your head so much that you forget your body. The body is one of our greatest recording devices– a goldmine of wisdom, memory and emotion. It digests and assimilates our thoughts and experiences, taking on a perspective that is often wiser than our intellect, and more accurate. There is no secret. I know you don’t want to hear “write badly” and “take a walk.” Usually what people ask for is my schedule (here it is: mornings, at least four hours a day, five days a week), a template for the perfect outline, a recommendation to the magic graduate school, a shortcut, an agent introduction, a way to make it not hurt so much. I often talk to people who are “stuck” with their memoirs, and watch their face fall when I ask them, “Have you thought about writing it straight through to the end and not looking back?” They usually have a million reasons why they can’t or shouldn’t do that. And maybe they shouldn’t. I don’t know what they need. But I do know three over-edited chapters won’t magically transform into a book one night while you’re sleeping. Writers are readers. We have grown up treasuring the books we devoured late at night, by the light of a stolen flashlight. We dreamed one day we’d be the name on the cover of just such a precious object. That may or may not happen, but either way it’s a worthy quest. It’s so easy to forget, while caught up in the morass of self-doubt and self-pity that can swamp our fragile writer souls, that this life of struggle is a dream come true. I love it fiercely. I hope I get to keep doing it until the day I die. Read more about Jillian Lauren’s book, Everything You Ever Wanted here.