Still Alice: An Excerpt

Advice for Writers from an Award Winning Author

There’s a New York Times Bestseller entitled, Still Alice, a novel by Lisa Genova (Simon & Schuster). For anyone with a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s, this is a must read. Though there are many things I could say about this novel, I chose to do an entry for my blog about her writing this book and the advice she has for aspiring writers. Here is the quote from the Discussion Question section.  She says:

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I know so many aspiring writers whoa re sitting in a holding pattern, with a work completed, waiting to find a literary agent.  They’re stuck, unable to give themselves permission to write the next book because they’re waiting to find out if their work is “good enough,” waiting to find out if they’re a ‘real writer.”  This state of waiting, of not writing and self-doubt, is the worst state any writer can be in.  My advice is this:  If you don’t find a literary agent falling into your lap quickly enough, if you feel like your work is done and is ready to be shared with the world, self-publish. Give your work to the world. Let it go. And keep writing. Freedom! I was recently in my car listening to Diablo Cody, who wrote the  screenplay for Juno, on NPR and when asked what advice she had for aspiring screenwriters, she said, “Self-publish.”  I yelled alone in my car, “Woohoo! See? Diablo Cody agrees with me, and she’s just been nominated for an Academy Award!”

Explain Your Writing Schedule

I have a newborn baby boy, so these days it’s catch as you can.  But for Still Alice, I wrote in Starbucks every day while my then six-year-old daughter was in school.   I found writing from home too difficult. There were too many distractions—phone calls to return, food to eat in the fridge, laundry to do, bills to pay.  You know you’re procrastinating when you’re paying bills instead of writing the next scene!  At Starbucks,  there were no excuses. Nothing else to do but write. You can’t even daydream there for long without looking crazy.  So you just put your head down and do it . . . My time to write was my time to write . . . I think having a limited number of hours each day to write kept me hungry to get back to it.  I never dreaded it or experienced writer’s block.  Every day, I couldn’t wait to get back to Starbucks, drink chai tea lattes, and write.