Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Writers' Tip #6: Don't Be Boring

Hannah Moskowitz is just a regular 19-year-old girl--but she's also a published YA author, and a Publishers Weekly starred review one to boot.

Her first novel, Break, hit shelves last August from Simon Pulse, and was called "viscerally real" (PW) and "unique [and] emotional" (Library Journal).

Hard at work on her second book, Invincible Summer--due out next spring---Hannah is laying low for the most part in the publishing world. But despite not having a current book to promote, I stumbled upon her blog via literary agent extraordinaire, Janet Reid, and must admit, I was quite impressed (and entertained).

Not only did she write Break when she herself was a junior in high school, but her level of maturity and grasp of publishing professionalism is astounding. In fact, this past weekend, Hannah blogged about what it means to be a writer, what is expected of you, and how (and how not) to act:

This post has nothing to do with writing and absolutely everything to do with being a writer.

The stereotype of a writer--the middle-aged man pounding feverishly at a typewriter, cigarette in his mouth, sending hard-copy manuscripts to his agent and protesting the change of every word--has yet to catch up with the reality of what being a writer entails today.

We are not locked in our attics alone. We are not even the romantic writers of the '20s, drinking coffee and discussing literature. We are a legion of overworked, underwashed normals, pounding away at our laptops and shooing the kids to the next room.

And more importantly, we are not alone.

If you are reading this blog, you have obviously already met at least one other writer (hello there.) Chances are, I'm not the only one. Agent, editor, and writer blogs, facebook, forums like Verla Kay and Absolute Write, and God, above all Twitter, mean that, at the very least, most writers are at least a friend of a friend of yours. The term 'networking' is so appropriate here, because, in actuality, we--writers, publishing professionals, book bloggers--are a net. A web of interconnected people.

Which is why the act of being a professional writer has come to mean much more than it used to. Fifty years ago, all most writers had to do was avoid getting arrested and not respond to bad reviews.

You have a much bigger job to undertake. And it's stressful, and it's scary, but it can also be one of the most rewarding parts of this job. Somedays, my writing is absolutely shitty, and the house is a mess, and I'm crying because I can't find my socks, but I have 239 blog followers, Goddamn it, and I said something funny on Twitter today, so at least this day isn't totally for the birds.

You may think that I am the worst possible person ever to talk about how to be a professional. I'm loud and I'm obnoxious and I say fuck like it's a part of my name.


But I'm hoping all that will make me easier to listen to, because when people think 'professional,' they a lot of the time think boring, sanitized, safe. And that's not who you have to be. I'm living fucking proof over here. And I knew from the start that I was taking a big risk, but I hoped that people would find me interesting and remember me.

It's worked pretty well so far. And that, kittens, is the real reason you want to get out there and put on your professional face. So that people will remember you.

Read Hannah's entire post HERE

Hannah goes on to offer some professional guidelines to her fellow writers:

1. Get on Twitter
2. Read About Books
3. Remember Names
4. Don't Alienate
5. Don't Talk About Yourself All the Time
6. Don't Be Boring
7. Remember That You Are a Human Connecting with Other Humans

So, take a look, my dear authors, and bear in mind Hannah's seven insights as you create your writerly identity. She's spot on, you know, in my professional opinion.


  1. Hanna is so young to be published... I hate her. And by hate I mean I'm green with freaking envy.

  2. hahaha funny you should mention envy....YA author Susan Adrian addressed the very topic of author envy on her blog this week. Check it out @