what's a session?

  • Face-to-face or phone conference of 1-2 hours.
  • Unlimited e-mail and up to 1 hour of phone consultation between conferences.
  • Detailed evaluation of work submitted previously.
  • Ongoing development of a working plan.
During the conference, we'll talk about three things:

  • what you're writing
  • what you're reading
  • your practicehow you go about your writing

The primary order of business, of course, will be to go over what you've given me to read since the last conference. My assumption is always that what you've put there, you meant to put there, and what you left out, you left out on purpose. In other words, I don't see it as my job to rewrite what you've written — that's your job — but rather to tell you what I find when I read it. If that's what you wanted me to find, terrific! — we'll move on to the next thing. If not, we'll try to figure out how to do it better.

Either way, discussing what you did for this time will lead to a mutually agreed-upon assignment for next time.

But to be a good writer, you also need to be a good reader, and you can't be a good reader unless you do it all the time — and I don't mean how-to manuals or the news or stuff for work: I'm talking about reading for pleasure. Pulitzer Prize-winner Marsha Norman says she reads four hours a day — which is great if you've got that kind of time — but even an hour a day can make a big difference, and it's about the only thing (in addition to writing, of course) that I'll insist that you do during our time working together.

Finally, we'll talk over everything about writing that isn't actually writing itself: when's your best time to write, where's the best place, how long you can keep at it, the pros & cons of computer vs. typewriter vs. paper & pen(cil) — all those logistical matters that writers love to gossip about that bores everybody else to tears.

We can also talk about the biz — publishers, agents, readings, book tours, contracts, and the like — but I will mostly emphasize being business-like in your approach to and practice of writing, the better to actually get things done.

[back to about writing lessons]