AWP2016 Los Angeles style

Panel session report

We’re on the Road to Somewhere: Approaches to Managing the Writing Life.

Another effective session. The panelists were all super candid about what works and doesn’t work  trying to manage a writer’s life. Heavens knows this is a tough management area for me. I need unbroken stretches of time, not only to write, but to fully embody my self as a writer. If I don’t get that space I am just walking around wishing that (insert blank here about writing). It’s not a pretty sight.


There are no shortcuts when it comes to writing. Sometimes, the challenge isn’t getting started—it’s sticking with it through criticism and rejection; doubts and confusion with the material itself. In this inspiring panel, successful writers discuss their own winding paths to publication and offer practical suggestions for building a creative and professional life in a variety of writing fields—including editing, blogging, and screenwriting—while managing a writing life over the long haul.

Cast of Characters: ,  ,  ,  ,  

Austin Bunn spoke about coloring outside your own lines as a writer. He discussed his experience  expanding his writing to include direct interactions with his audiences by creating collaborative synchronicity through screenwriting and immersive theater. He’s a super cool guy, smart, and funny. His approach of incorporating writing and expanding into other genres and mediums has allowed him to produce exiting work. Check him out.

“Art did not require a remove from the material of life; if could actually seek to dissolve the boundary between the two.”

Brag note about Austin: He wrote the screenplay to the excellent film  Kill your Darlings.


Leslie Pietrzyk

Leslie’s energy is contagious. She spoke about the long road of being a writer and pointed out what you can and can’t control. She’s the winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize for her novel This Angel on my Chest.   Thanks to Leslie’s suggestions  I am starting a local writer’s group. Here’s her essay for AWP around the writing group idea.

that kept her going a

Here’s Sonya Chung making one of her points in this interview from The Days of Yorea damn great blog about writers and artist in their ‘early days.’ A little inspo to keep you focused and reassured.


“My answer is persistence; hang in there. It takes awhile.”


  • Some of the suggestions I am running with, like creating a writing group.
  • Other ideas dealt with fighting demons of envy and despair and instead refocusing our the work to be real and concrete.
  • Working with what’s in front of you is also a huge leap of faith.
  • Hit the ball from where its at. It’s okay to go for low-hanging fruit.
  • One only has control of talent, hard work and perseverance, the rest is luck.
  • Yiyun Li, who is also a scientist motivates herself by uttering the words by Elinor  from Sense and Sensibility: “…Exert yourself, (dear Marianne).” She notes that in Science you don’t wait around for inspiration. You experiment. Do the same with writing.
  •  Josh Rolnick “There is virtue in abandoning something. Let it die a crypt death.”
  • Take your writing life forward in small steps.
  • Little victories matter.
  • If you’re wondering if you’re writing from a dark place or not, then you’re not writing from a dark place. It’s important to write from there.
  • Create small writing hacks, reward yourself  and writing partner with outrageous rewards or punishments. Did you write? Yes or No? Simple. Set a timer!
  • The question from the audience the panelists didn’t work hard to answer; ” How do you explain the necessities of the writing life to your spouse or partner?

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