Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What's the Best Writerly Advice You'd Give Your Younger Self - Erin Bowman

The contest to win a copy of The Near Witch ARC is still going strong, but please post only in the comments of the the contest blog post below. It will stay open for one week and I'll announce the winner on or about July 4th.

 Today's guest post is by Erin Bowman who is a fellow HarperCollins debut author whose fabulous new book The Laicos Project will be released at the same time as mine, in Winter 2013. Do you want to hear how good it is? Here's her PM announcement:

Erin Bowman’s THE LAICOS PROJECT, about a 17-year-old who has grown up in a primitive town where boys are Heisted on their 18th birthday never to be seen again, and who is determined to find out the truth behind the disappearances, to Erica Sussman at Harper Children’s, in a significant deal, in a pre-empt, in a three-book deal, by Sara Crowe at Harvey Klinger (NA). 

Yeah, how good does that sound? It sounds like "who do I have to kill to get an advanced copy" good! So I'm absolutely thrilled to turnover the blog to Erin today!

While I’ve been a storyteller my whole life, I have not been writing my whole life.

I wrote like a maniac when I was younger. It started with crayons and that old-school, pre-lined handwriting paper. In middle school, for three years in a row, I went to writing camp during the summer. Yes, writing camp. While other kids were roasting s’mores and swimming in lakes and telling ghost stories, I was inside, scribbling writing prompts into a spiral notebook.

I wrote with that level of undying fervor until high school, when something changed. From high school up until a few years ago, I didn’t write all that frequently. I churned out a short story here or there, but I didn’t dream big. I didn’t want to take on a story with subplots and layers and complexities because I was so busy. With sports and SATs and college applications. With college classes and resumes and job searching. With moving and commuting and a career and a wedding and a husband and moving again. I had a lot going on and I didn’t have the time to write.

But here’s the thing: We all have the time, and the same amount of it. Each and every author to have ever put a book into this world has written it page by page, piece by piece, day by day. Twenty-four hour increments, that’s all anyone has. No one has a magical 25th hour. No one.

You make the time. You carve it out. You shave off the minutes and seconds and gather them up. You squeeze the writing in when you can. Some days will be more efficient than others, and that’s OK, so long as you’re always looking to make more time.

I wish I’d realized this when I was younger. It makes me wonder where I’d be in my writing career now had I carved out the time then.

Ironically, I “found” the time to write again after being laid off a job. It was a crappy way to learn my lesson, but it gave me a much-needed kick in the butt. I tackled the story that had been lurking in my mind and I didn’t let up. Not even after getting a new job. Not after moving and adopting a two-hour commute. Not ever. When I finished the first story, I started a new one. And then another. And another.

The clock had not been my enemy. I was my enemy. For giving myself excuses and taking the easy way out and blaming “time” for my inability to prioritize.

A day is a decent chunk of time: 24 hours, or 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds. No matter how you slice it, it’s the same. So if you love something, start carving and shaving and gathering. Round up that time and make it happen. The only person holding you back is yourself.

Even though Erin is now a pro at time-carving, she is still on the lookout for that elusive 25th hour. If you stumble upon it, please let her know. When not writing, Erin enjoys hiking, camping and staring at the stars. She drinks a lot of coffee, buys far too many books and is not terribly skilled at writing about herself in the third person. Erin is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger. Her debut YA novel, THE LAICOS PROJECT, will be published by HarperTeen (Winter 2013). Erin tweets @erin_bowman and maintains a blog at


Charles Gramlich said...

we all have exactly the same hours. that's so true. Good to see it pointed out. I don't often think of it that way.

Emy Shin said...

Love this post, Erin! It's true that none of us have the magical 25th hour -- and making time to write means stealing it from something else.

Jessica Spotswood said...

Yay, so true! I used to feel SO guilty for passing on social stuff to write, but you do have to make it a priority. I have become a pro at banishing the guilt over not cleaning the house, for instance.

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