• The cover of the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

    Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

    First things first: you want to write, then you’ve gotta sit your butt down in that chair (or bed, if you’re Capote or Proust; or you can just stand like Hemingway—whatever) and work. How long should you work, you ask? Well, let’s take a look at Mason Currey’s wonderfully informative and (not surprisingly) a bit discouraging book Daily Rituals, in which Currey briefly explains the writing schedules of 161 major authors. Take your pick: you could work the not unreasonable hours of 9 am to noon, like Thomas Mann did, or you can take the graveyard shift and work on and off from 5 pm until 3 in the morning, like Fitzgerald did (or tried to do; he was off partying many of those nights). But if a rigid routine is not your strong suit, maybe you can take after Sylvia Plath, who could never nail down a solid writing routine. Or if you’re just obsessed, you can work twelve-hour days like H.L. Mencken, but…I wouldn’t recommend it.

  • The cover of the book Last Night’s Reading: Illustrated Encounters with Extraordinary Authors

    Last Night’s Reading: Illustrated Encounters with Extraordinary Authors

    After selecting your bookstore/s, we must discuss readings. Yes, some writers adore the attention of a public event, while others (most, I think) find them to be nerve-wracking spirit-crushing torture fests. Luckily, the wonderful Kate Gavino captures them in Last Night’s Reading with charm and artfulness—but most importantly because Gavino draws some well-established authors, who are by now to a certain degree used to such performances, her illustrations show the fan’s side of things, which should inspire and encourage young writers nervous at taking their place at the podium. Readers are listening! They’re interested in what you have to say! Each of Gavino’s drawings is accompanied by a quote from the subject. Here’s my favorite, from Donna Tartt: “If you’re not enjoying something, it’s almost always because you’re doing it too fast.” So don’t let your nerves get the best of you; take a moment and heed Tartt’s advice. Enjoy the reading, if you can!