10 Indispensable Writing Tips From Famous Authors

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
–Ernest Hemingway

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
–E.L. Doctorow

And more….!


The Creative Kick in the Pants You Need (You’re Welcome)

On a recent drive to Michigan, I passed the time by listening to author Elizabeth Gilbert being interviewed on the podcast “On Being.” She was talking about the creative process and said the same words that I’ve read on the back cover of her new book, Big Magic:

“The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.”

I admit, I teared up.


Was I Dreaming?

The Facebook message started: Tammy, I am a producer on Chelsea Handler’s new documentary series for Netflix…One of the films is on marriage…I was hoping you might share your story with Chelsea.

I re-read this several times with what I considered an impressive amount of skepticism, but honestly, I am not immune to words like producer, series, Los Angeles. So after taking 30 minutes to wander around my house pretending that I wasn’t a bit interested and it was all a mistake anyway, I did as the guy asked and called him.


The Dreams That You Dare To Dream

Judy Garland said it best: The dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

But why is the word DARE in there? Shouldn’t dreaming be easy?

It used to be, when we were kids. I was reminded of that this weekend as I drove my daughter 7 hours across Michigan to a performing arts camp. At the tender age of 10, she is one of those lucky souls who already has a dream that lifts and dazzles and moves her as tangibly as a pair of sky-high red heels. It’s inspiring to see, and hear, her in action; all the world (and house, and car) is her stage.


There’s Only One Question To Ask

It was wonderful to hear Marianne Williamson speak at Unity in Chicago! She talked about becoming disciples of love, and about being disciplined in the practice of asking

“Am I acting from love or fear?”

It’s the only true question, the one beneath all others!


What Color is My Parachute? And Does it Match My Shoes?

I made an appointment today to be evaluated by a vocational expert. What fun! At long last I’ll find out if my current job as stay-at-home-mom has earned me any street cred, or if, in fact, serving sausage patties 20 years ago at Bob Evans was the apex of my career.

This amusing little diversion is being “offered” to me compliments of my estranged husband, who was kind enough to bring this matter before a judge, who was gracious enough to pen the invitation on fancy paper with a Cook County logo on it, and even stamp it with a fancy stamp.


How Going Viral Leads to Dis-Ease

In last week’s newsletter, I asked readers to take a peek at my first article as guest author on DivorcedMoms.com. I was at 1,300 views and hoping to earn a bronze star on that site.

Fast forward (and I mean fast)… that blog was picked up and featured on the Huffington Post’s Divorce page, then picked up by HP Germany and today appeared in Australia’s IVillage.

The DM editor told me I’d gone viral. No wonder I’m feeling a little dizzy and having trouble catching my breath.


Stuck in the Middle Again

I just finished working with a wonderful story coach named Pat. We spent a month together shaping and defining my upcoming book. Pat was a pro about finding the arc of the story—the only hitch was that what I called the end, she said was the middle.

Ugh. Anyone who has tackled a long-term project knows that the last thing you want to hear is that you’re halfway there!

I didn’t want to write about my dad dying—too painful, or about the long overdue breakup with a boyfriend—too embarrassing.


Memoir: The Buddha at my Table

After learning of my husband’s multiple affairs and years of deceit, I chose to transform my pain by surrendering to it and living in “real time.” I was a spiritual seeker and life-long storyteller, but could I rise above my own story of betrayal to gratefully embrace the present moment?


I am an Author

I’m sitting in a room with 25 fourth graders and we are all shouting, “I am an author! I have something to say!” I have goosebumps. I’m much older than 10 and have written a novel, but never in my life have I shouted those words. Call me a slow learner. Add to that humbled volunteer. I’m a writing coach at an Open Books literacy field trip; my group and I have just spent 2 hours learning about character and creating our own from a photo of a nondescript brunette twenty-something. The kids decide she is Anna, a fashion designer in New York City with an on-again-off-again boyfriend. She’s trying to pay off student loans and doesn’t know if she can afford to stay in the city.