RESOURCES (From Radar Productions. Click on image to read the whole article):

MICHELLE TEA GIVES YOU PRACTICAL ADVICE ON HOW TO BECOME A WRITER

I want to be a writer. What should I do?

If you want to be a writer you should write. That is what makes a person a writer – not how many literary journals you’ve been rejected from, how many other writers you’ve had affairs with at writers’ colonies, how many blurbs from Salman Rushdie you got for the back of your sixteenth and newest novel. Writing makes one a writer. So, write.

Don’t I need a Room of One’s Own to be a writer? I live with five alcoholic roommates / my mom / my lover in a studio apartment / thirty-one cats who need my attention always.

It really helps to have your own cork-lined room to recall the smells of formative pastries whilst creating, but that’s not always a possibility. I just moved into my own place scant months ago, and I have written much, pretty much always while living in crowded squalor. Two words of advice: 1. Do not believe your own superstitions of what you think you need in order to write. More on this soon. But, you don’t need your own room to write, so stop it. 2. Get out of the house and into the world! Cafes are great places to write! I look for ones with lots of electrical outlets and a late closing hour. If you need a late late closing hour, bars are wonderful libraries, too. Writing outside your home has a million benefits. You won’t get lazy and distract yourself with a sudden cleaning binge, or decide you’re hungry and start a pot ofcoq au vin. Though there are people all around you in a café, they are not your roommates and will not bother you (unless you are female, writing in a bar, and then men who feel lonely at the sight of you and need to be part of your action will ask you annoying questions and call you a bitch when you don’t want to answer them because um you’re writing. An upshot of this ; that man could become part of your story. Being out in the world writing let’s the world into your story. Amy Fusselman, in her brilliant book Eight: All True, saw Adrock from the Beastie Boys walk by the café she was writing in every day and now he’s in the book and the book is better for it. Don’t put off your work because of your housing situation. It’s just an excuse. Places I have written include: sitting on top of a jukebox at a dance club; writing on the back of pledge slips while working at my job as a telephone fundraiser for the environment; the bus; on the spare bed in my spare room the night me and my boyfriend broke up and I could no longer sleep in our shared bedroom; sitting on a curb; millions or bars and cafes; in a van; at the free breakfast in hotels; in the teachers lounge at a high school; I could go on, because I have written everywhere, and  dare you to let yourself do the same.

I don’t have time to work on my book. What should I do?

You do have time. Keep a journal of how you spend every waking moment for one week. Write it all down – how long was breakfast, your commute, your job, watching tv, hanging out with friends, having sex, working out, going to parties, taking baths, sleeping. At the end of the week go back and see what you can get rid of, or add writing to. Breakfast? Why not write while you eat your oatmeal? Your commute? Take the bus instead of drive and write while you ride. When can you unwork on the job. Can you ever? Daniel Handler wrote his first novel while pretending to work at a day job. I know lots of writers who Robin Hood hours on the clock to give to their art. If we lived in a better, non-capitalistic culture where artistic exploits were valued, you would not have to do this, but you don’t and you do and you should. If you really, really can’t write on the job, take those 15 minute breaks labor activists died fighting to win for you and write. What, you ask, can I accomplish in fifteen minutes???? More than you would have if you spent that fifteen smoking a cigarette and chatting with a coworker you have nothing in common with. As important as it is for you to be producing chunks of text (and it is important) it is also important for you to be building and feeding your sense of yourself as a writer – noble, dedicated, romantic. Someone who dedicates every spare minute to their craft, I dare you. Anyway, back to your list: Watching TV. Don’t get me started. You CAN NOT complain about having no time to write AND watch TV. I will not talk to you. Next: Taking baths: write in the tub. Get one of those things that kind of stratch across the tub like a tray, you know what I’m talking about? Writing in the tub – how decadent! Otherwise, take a freaking shower, don’t make such big deal about it. Stay dirty. Who cares. Write your book. Hanging out with friends: overrated. Find friends who arewriters and write together. Have a friend drop by the first half hour of the four hour writing date you made with yourself at a café. Half hour is up, she leaves, you work. Or tell your friends: I know I’m going to be scarce for a while but I’ve got to finish this book! Please support me! Anyone who doesn’t is a jerk and has won a place as the inspiration for the antagonist in your next book. Having sex: You will always get to have more sex. I have learned this, through a lifetime of fearing every roll in the hay will be my last. It won’t. Here’s the thing  – people like having sex with one another. So the opportunity will present itself again, especially after you have completed your novel. You will be so much more attractivewhen you’ve completed your work! I am not even kidding. Here is why:

1. Confidence. You will radiate belief in yourself. People think that is hot. People will want to be your friend and have sex with you and both at the same time.

2. It is so magical to write a book! In spite of how relatively easy it is, few people do it, so in this way you will be special, and people will want you.

3. Eventually your book will get published and people will think you are famous. Even if you are not famous, people will insist that you are, because people are attracted to fame and they want you to be famous, so that they can hang out and have sex with a famous person.

4. You will have unintentionally played hard to get by taking all this time away to write your book, and most people are game-playing chumps with intimacy issues so they will want you more than ever.

5. The considerably smaller but infinitely more attractive pool of ‘healthy’ people will be drawn to you because you have your own thing going on, and healthy people like that, because they tend to have their own things going on, too. Plus you will now be a person with discipline and focus, and healthy people like that, too. They don’t want to be anyone’s momma, know what I mean?

Okay: Working out: Write at the gym. I mean it. Schedule that writing time into your workout. Yes, your workouts may be smaller. Are you really prioritizing the strength of your triceps over the strength of your writing? Don’t do that. Sleeping: You’ll sleep when you’re dead. Wake up and hour or so early, go to be an hour or so late. Sure, you’re supposed to get eight hours of sleep, but studies have proven seven is just as effective, and you can totally get by on six a couple days a week if you need to, and if it’s a matter of finishing your book, you need to.

What about self care? you cry! Is this any way to live? I need to take care of my nemtal health, etc etc etc. Listen – It’s not for the rest of your life, it’s for right now, just until you finish your book, and the faster you adopt these guidelines the faster you will be done and can get back to lolling in your bathtub watching Real Housewives on your computer while simultaneously Facebooking with people you don’t actually care about on your hand held communication device, like you really want to. Finishing your book is self care. It will increaseyour mental health. All your excuses just make you sound crazy. Get to work.

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    Love Michelle Tea so very much. Seeing this badass lady next month; Sister Spit is a Spring tradition.
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    This photo was taken at Food For Thought Books in Amherst. Please leave some credentials where this photo originated :)...
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