Category: GEMA, GEMA Event

Title:GEMA Hoyas in Letters Presents “An Evening with NYT Bestselling Author Laurie Halse Anderson (I’84)”

GEMA Hoyas in Letters Presents
An Evening with New York Times Bestselling Author Laurie Halse Anderson (I’84) and Brian Tart (C’92), President and Publisher of Viking on Wednesday, March 16.
By Alum Michael Riley (B’12)

View photos from the event

I recently attended a Georgetown University alumni event in NYC for people interested in writing and the publishing industry. The event’s main focus was an interview with Laurie Halse Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of young adult novels such as Speak and Prom. I had never heard of Laurie before, since I’m more of a nonfiction guy and less aware of Georgetown alumni who are authors. That being said, I’m always interested in learning about how others have achieved success in their fields so was eager to hear what she had to say. I was pleasantly surprised by her quirky personality and impactful advice on what it means to be an artist and writer.

Key takeaways from the interview:

1. Do whatever it takes to write. Squeeze in time wherever you are.

As a mother of four, Laurie has a lot on her plate but still manages to carve out the time to write, even in the most precarious of places such as in the car while waiting for soccer practice to end.

If you *really* want to write, you have to make the time, regardless of your schedule. For me, that’s before and after work and on the weekends (although for not as long as I’d like at times). There are definitely other cracks of time I could explore like writing on the phone while on the subway or tuning out my office environment for 15 minutes during lunch. Could you be writing more than you already are? Where are the holes in your schedule that you could fill in with writing time?

2. The most important writing space is the one you keep in your heart.

This is a reminder to do you. To be true to who you are and your voice no matter what. Despite there being a lot of blueprints out there for how to become a certain type of author, originality can’t be replaced. You will have a better chance to succeed if choose to stand out instead of fit in.

I’ve been taking small steps in my writing journey over the past few months by writing about the stuff I care about. While I’m still finding my voice and content niche, I feel good about my efforts to communicate the things that are true to me and my outlook on the world. You should too.

3. Write bad drafts. Then figure out how to make them stronger.

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. You’re not going to nail a writing project on the head the first time your write it, so just accept it before your drive yourself crazy. I still struggle with this but have been getting a bit better, as I know the revisions will come. I just need to spew all my thoughts out onto the blank page and trust that it will all come together nicely. You need to have that faith in yourself too.

4. Stop wasting time. Turn off the TV and go work on your art.

This should be the motto for wannabe artists. You can’t just expect to become an “overnight” success if you’re not consistently practicing your craft outside of your day job. Too many of us dedicate a disproportionate amount of our free time to activities that are not going to help us become better artists (e.g. binge watch Netflix). Laurie’s plea is a wake-up call to get off our butts and dive into our art if we want the chance to turn a pro and make a living out of it.

5. Put regular creativity into your life. It will be better. You will connect.

As a writer looking to build up an audience, I couldn’t agree more with Laurie. Whether it’s been writing down 10 ideas perday or spending 30 minutes on my next post, my creativity and life have definitely improved these past few months. It’s been amazing to continue to embrace who I am and share that with the world. There’s nothing like writing something that strikes a chord with someone else and having a 1-to-1 conversation with them. The opportunity to give value to that person and the relationship that develops over time is such a huge driving force behind why I do what want to do.

For people who don’t identify themselves as creatives or want to be artists, practicing regular creativity still matters. For example, not all solutions to problems at work are black and white. Sometimes you need to think outside then box to come up with a solve. An excellent way to increase your odds of coming up with those creative solutions is to practice creativity and exercise your right brain on a daily basis. Creativity shouldn’t make you cringe because it can come in many forms that can be suited to your interests. Make it fun and it’ll become a part of the day you always look forward to.

6. When you’re stuck, move around.

As a writer, it’s common to get writer’s block. For Laurie, she likes to step away from her desk and enjoy the beauty of nature around her home.

Some days, working on your art is going to feel like pulling teeth. That’s a fact. Instead of driving yourself up the wall by trying to make it work, try taking a break and moving around. Go for a walk. Hit the gym. Take a drive. Sometimes your brain needs a mental breather before it can come up with the quality stuff you know it can. Move!

About Laurie Halse Anderson

The New York Times bestselling author writes for all ages and is known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity. Two of Laurie’s books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists, and The Impossible Knife of Memory was longlisted for the NBA. Chains was also a finalist for the Carnegie Medal in the United Kingdom. Laurie was the proud recipient of the Intellectual Freedom Award given by the National Council of Teachers of English, and the Free Speech Defender Award given by the National Coalition Against Censorship and presented to her by her hero, Judy Blume. She has also received the Margaret A. Edwards Award given by YALSA division of the American Library Association, the ALAN Award from the National Council of Teachers of English, and the St. Katharine Drexel Award from the Catholic Librarian Association.

Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes. You can follow her adventures on Twitter, .

About Brian Tart

After graduating from Georgetown University with a B.A. in English Literature, Brian attended the Radcliffe Publishing Course and started in publishing as an editorial assistant at Bantam Books in 1992. In 1998, he left Bantam as a Senior Editor to become the Editor-in-Chief at Dutton. He was named Publisher of Dutton in 2005 and President in 2006. In 2014, he became President and Publisher of Gotham and Avery in addition to Dutton. In 2015 he moved to become President & Publisher of Viking, which is a literary hardcover imprint at Penguin Random House.

He has edited the #1 New York Times bestseller A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, as well as The Reason for God, The Prodigal God and other bestselling books by Timothy Keller; It Gets Better by Dan Savage; Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams; A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George; and Miracles by #1 New York Times bestselling author Eric Metaxas. He has published such notable books as Harlan Coben’s Six Years, Ken Follett’s World Without End, Mark Owen’s No Easy Day, and Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. Brian lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and twin boys.