How to Write

This post by Heather Havrilesky originally appeared on The Awl on 5/5/14.

I teach a Popular Criticism class to MFA students. I don’t actually have an MFA, but I am a professional, full-time writer who has been in this business for almost two decades, and I’ve written for a wide range of impressive print and online publications, the names of which you will hear and think, “Oh fuck, she’s the real deal.” Because I am the real deal. I tell my students that a lot, like when they interrupt me or roll their eyes at something I say because they’re young and only listen when old hippies are digressing about Gilles Deleuze’s notions of high capitalism’s infantilizing commodifications or some such horse shit.

Anyway, since Friday is our last class, and since I’m one of the only writers my students know who earns actual legal tender from her writing—instead of say, free copies of Ploughshares—they’re all dying to know how I do it. In fact, one of my students just sent me an email to that effect: “For the last class, I was wondering if you could give us a breakdown of your day-to-day schedule. How do you juggle all of your contracted assignments with your freelance stuff and everything else you do?”

Now, I’m not going to lie. It’s annoying, to have to take time out of my incredibly busy writing schedule in order to spell it all out for young people, just because they spend most of their daylight hours being urged by hoary old theorists in threadbare sweaters to write experimental fiction that will never sell. But I care deeply about the young—all of them, the world’s young—so of course I am humbled and honored to share the trade secrets embedded in my rigorous daily work schedule. Here we go:


Click here to read the full post on The Awl.