Tarzan Kay


May 2, 2023

to you

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two pieces of writing advice

Prefer to listen in? Tune in to the audio version of this email:

Bad news:

My book sucks again ‍♀️

You may remember an email from a couple of weeks ago where I was like, “I AM THE BEST WRITER IN THE WRLD! I'M GOING TO MAKE THE NYT BESTSELLER LIST AND MARRY A FAMOUS TENNIS PLAYER!!”

Well, that was Monday and this is Tuesday. That’s kind of how writing a book goes. 

One day it’s so easy. 

One day you can almost feel the sand under your feet in your future life strolling along the beach hand in hand with Anna Kournikova. 

…then the next day there’s a loud (imaginary) asshole sitting next to you telling you that your book reads like a teenager’s diary and it’s a good thing you bought that Kirkland Signature sweatshirt because you are going to be working the hotdog stand at Costco within the month for SURE.

Tarzan sits at her computer pointing to the Kirkland Signature logo on her very plain-looking black sweatshirt

It is a gd rollercoaster. 

With writing habits, something works for a little bit, and then it stops working.

→ Writing on my laptop at my kitchen table at 6am worked for a while, until it didn’t. 

→ Taking my computer to bed and writing for 30 minutes with the promise of Netflix just inches from my fingertips the moment the timer stops, that’s working today. 

Tomorrow I’ll have to find something else. 

But two things are holding true for me, no matter what. And I’m passing these on today in case you’re trying and succeeding but also failing like me. 

This advice comes from a uni professor who’s written a few books. 

  1. Get your butt in the chair.

My goal this week is to write for 30 minutes a day, every day. It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be 30 minutes. Usually I end up writing for longer, but that’s a bonus and not a requirement.

Great writers are not born, they are made. (Well, I guess *technically* they’re also born ‍♀️) The secret to great writing is writing a lot and often. Easier said than done, I know.

  1. Park on a downhill slope. 

Don’t stop writing when you’re stuck. You won’t want to go back to it. Stop when you’re writing from that easy, effortless place. 

If you’re really stuck, try one thing to get unstuck. Your solution is probably not as sucky as you think it is, and it’ll help you get into first gear next time you sit back down to write. 

  1. BONUS ADVICE: Take a break after 90 minutes (even if you don’t want to).

No writer likes quitting when the work is gaining momentum. You worked SOOO hard for that “writer’s high”—but it actually IS a high, and if you don’t step away your brain will burn up all of your dopamine and you’ll feel like garbage after. That just makes it harder to get going again. (Hat tip to Kelly Diels who taught me this.)

Good news. If you follow C there’s a very good chance you’re also parking on a downhill slope. A super slope-y slope.  So B is covered too!

That’s what’s working for me. 

Got a writing project? I’d love to know what’s working for you. Hit “reply” and LMK.


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