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  • Ginni Chen 7:00 pm on 2016/03/09 Permalink
    Tags: advice, , , support and encouragement,   

    How Do I Get My Friend to Write? 

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    ginni0202Dear Literary Lady,

    I’m trying to convince my friend to write a book, because I know she would write something earth-shatteringly good. In addition to constant nagging, what are some other ways I can inspire her to try?

    –D.G., Bellevue, WA

    Dear D.G.,

    Would that all writers had a friend like you in their corner! Your confidence in your friend’s writerly abilities is inspiring in and of itself, but you’re probably right that she needs a little more motivation to pick up a pen than constant badgering. It’s easy to nag someone to take out the trash, but it’s a little more difficult to nag a novel into existence. Also, you don’t want her book’s dedication page to say, “To D.G., who wouldn’t shut up.

    They say creativity begets creativity, so you might need to get a little creative yourself when attempting to kickstart your friend’s writing process. It won’t be an easy task, but keep your eyes on the prize (the Nobel Prize for Literature, that is) and think of how readers everywhere will thank you for all of her masterpieces in the future.

    Now, consider trying the following:

    1. Give your friend tons of money.
    It worked for Harper Lee. Lee’s friends very generously gave her a year’s wages so she could take time off from work to write To Kill a Mockingbird. Think about it this way—if you live off ramen for long enough, you just might usher into the world the next American classic!

    2. Write with her.
    Okay, okay. I know most of us aren’t able to bankroll a friend’s writing career, but we do have the ability to create alongside them. It’s always easier to try something new with a good friend in tow, and you’ll be there for her very first foray into storytelling.

    3. Start small.
    You know there’s a masterpiece of a novel in her, but she might not know it yet. Encourage your friend to start small with short stories and articles. It could help build up her confidence enough to tackle a novel one day.

    4. Carve out time for her to write.
    It’s hard to sustain a creative endeavor when you have a job, a family, errands, appointments, and a million other demands on your time. One of the best things a friend can do is help someone carve out time to create. Meet up in a coffee shop and just do work together, or invite her over for takeout and dedicated writing time.

    5. Talk about books with her.
    Turn your attention outward and talk about the great books you’re both reading. Discussing writers and novels might get her thinking about what stories she has to tell and what her voice might sound like. There are also many wonderfully encouraging books about writing and the writing process authored by wonderful writers—like Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird—that she may find useful and inspiring.

    6.Give it a rest (for a bit).
    Remember it can be pretty intimidating to start a task when people you love are waiting expectantly and have high hopes for you. It’s possible that the more you persuade her to write, the more pressure she feels. Try laying off for a bit and see if she takes a few steps forward on her own.

    Remember that inspiring your friend to write a novel is like cheering someone on at a marathon. You can’t just be there for the start and the finish, you have to get creative, make fun signs, and cheer wildly at various points throughout the entire run.

    Love and paperbacks,
    Literary Lady

  • Ginni Chen 8:30 pm on 2015/11/04 Permalink
    Tags: advice, , ,   

    How Do I Support My Best Friend’s Soon-to-be-Released Book? 

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    Nutshell Library

    ginni0202Dear Literary Lady,

    My best friend just got a book deal! What’s are some ways to show my support?

    –J.M., Raleigh, NC

    Dear J.M.,

    Isn’t that just about the most exciting news in the world? It’s as if the publishing world has finally affirmed what you’ve thought all along—that your friend is brilliant, creative, and destined for greatness. Admit it, you kind of want to yell from the rooftops, “I told you so!” to nobody in particular. You sort of maybe want to grab editors by the lapels of their tweed jackets and exclaim, “What took you so long?” And an itty-bitty part of you is tempted to write snarky non sequiturs to your friends on social media (“That’s a great photo of your lunch. My friend is writing a book!”).

    But, of course, you won’t do any of these things, because there are more effective, and much saner, ways to show your support and enthusiasm. For example:

    1. Before the book is released, start a book club if you don’t already have one. That way, when the book comes out, you can make it the book of the month!

    2. Throw your friend a book shower. Everyone has bridal and baby showers to celebrate upcoming life events, so why should having a book published be any different? All the guests can bring gifts of pens, notebooks, and divine inspiration (whiskey).

    3. Pre-order copies of the book for everyone you know.

    4. Better yet, go to your local B&N the day the book is released with a pack of friends. Bystanders may become curious and buy a copy for themselves.

    5. Even BETTER yet, go to your local B&N the day the book is released with everyone you know in matching T-shirts inspired by the book. Everyone at the store will become instantly curious and rush to get a copy!

    6. Insert your best friend’s name and novel into all your conversations. For example: “So and so, the up-and-coming author of hotly anticipated novel _______, said the other day that…”

    7. Shoot a trailer for your best friend’s novel as if it were a movie. Make sure it goes viral.

    8. Last but not least, be supportive of your friend throughout the writing and publishing process. Make them sandwiches. Take them out for walks. Tell them that their ex was not their muse and that they’ll write brilliantly without them.

    Above all, remember there’s a long, arduous road ahead for your best friend. While you may have unwavering confidence in their creative genius, they may not always be so sure. So while it’s fun and important to celebrate their incredible achievement, remember you’re a friend first and a fan second.

    Love and paperbacks,
    Literary Lady


  • Ginni Chen 4:45 pm on 2015/10/21 Permalink
    Tags: advice, , , ,   

    How Do You Convince an Avowed Fiction Reader to Read Nonfiction? 

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    ginni0202Dear Literary Lady,

    I’m trying to convince an avowed fiction reader to try nonfiction, to no avail. What do I do to open his eyes?


    Dear N.G.,

    Tell me if this sounds familiar to you,

    “You should really check out this book about _______.”
    “Mehhh, but I’m not really into nonfiction.”
    “What do you mean you’re not into nonfiction?”
    “I just can’t get into it. It’s dry, it’s a bunch of facts—it’s like reading a history textbook.”
    “No, it’s not. It’s really well-written and engaging. And it’s about real things, unlike fiction.”
    “Fiction is real!”
    “No, it’s not!”

    Fiction readers and nonfiction readers have been having the same argument since the dawn of mankind. Possibly even longer. Scientists say some of our cave-dwelling ancestors only liked pictographs of real events, while others only liked pictographs of fictional events.

    As someone who reads both fiction and nonfiction, I’d say you first need to find common ground with your fiction-reading friend and bridge the divide. You’ll get nowhere if you each think the other is on the dark side.

    The first step is to stop assuming fiction readers only read for entertainment and enjoy stories with no basis in reality. Sometimes, a fiction novel can be more telling of the truth than a factual account. Understand you both read to be enlightened about people, places, and experiences, and that your friend simply chooses another form through which to absorb those lessons.

    Second, figure out what kind of stories your friend already connects with, and recommend books along those lines. You’ll be tempted to talk about the nonfiction books you like and why you like them, but remember, this isn’t about you. This is about them, so you need to be intriguing. Talk about nonfiction books that touch on things they’ve experienced, places they’ve been, what they do for work, what they studied in school. The possibilities for connections are endless.

    Third, mention things you’ve read offhandedly, without recommending them. Whenever you’re talking about something your friend is interested in, whether it’s airplanes, fashion, or soccer, share a fascinating, little-known fact and say casually that you read it in a book. Random trivia can be a subtle but astonishingly effective method of convincing your friend that if they read nonfiction, their mind will be replete with really cool facts, too.

    Lastly, and most importantly, show your friend it’s easier to share the experience of reading nonfiction than it is to share the experience of reading a novel. As much as I love reading fiction, it’s almost impossible to share a story with people who haven’t read the book. Unless you’re in a book club, you can’t sit around talking about the plot of a book. It’s a very weird and very boring thing to do. Reading fiction is one of those “you had to be there” experiences.

    Reading nonfiction, on the other hand, is easy to share, and is a less individualistic experience. Show your fiction-reading friend that when they read nonfiction, they can pepper fun facts into everyday conversation, and engage in some great discussions on the subject. Show them that sometimes the rewards of nonfiction reading come after you’ve finished the book, when you can spark the curiosity of others, share what you’ve learned, and also seem super, super smart.

    Best of luck!
    Literary Lady

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