THOUGHTS ON WRITING by Scott Lax

How Often Should You Write?

January 2, 2017

Tags: On writing, writing advice

THOUGHTS ON WRITING, 1st Installment
By Scott Lax, January 1, 2017

Those of you who have liked this page – thank you. But I haven't really done my part in keeping up with posting content. That will change this year.

One of the things I'll be doing is to offer short bits of advice to writers and aspiring writers. (Or those interested in writing.) While I'll sometimes post a quotation from one of the greats, much of it will be from me, for better or for worse, for you to take or leave. I'm not one who believes that what works for one writer will necessarily work for anyone else.

So with that caveat, here's my advice for the first day of the year: If you really want to write creatively, be it poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, political commentary, a play, a screenplay or whatever – I think it's quite important to write something every day. My suggestion is to give yourself a minimum and a maximum amount of time. If you go over the maximum, I don't suppose that would be a problem for you. (Though it could be for others, so be mindful.)

It's attaining the minimum writing time that can pose the biggest challenge. So maybe try this: give yourself a minimum that you can achieve, be it five minutes, 15 minutes, or half an hour. The two most important aspects of this are, I think, that first, don't beat yourself up if you don't make that minimum, but rather go at it again the next day or as soon as you can and don't look back.

The second thing is to not compare yourself to others. You don't need to write Hemingway's 600 words a day. You don't need to write a given famous author's three hours a day or any other amount of time or word count. You simply need to put words on paper or computer at your pace. Unless you're on a paid deadline – and that's an entirely different thing, one where 12-hour days can be stacked one on top of another – you are responsible only to yourself.

Happy New Year and happy writing. -- Scott

Halloween 2016

November 4, 2016

Finn and Lydia, ready for the Halloween bounty
On this warm Halloween, Lydia and Finn were set for a fine night of Trick or Treating.

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Father's Day, 2016

June 20, 2016

Tags: father's day, scott lax, dads

Finn and me on Father's Day...photo by Lydia
Lydia took this photo on a wonderful Father's Day, June 19, 2016. A great day with my family, then the Cavs won the World Championship.

Back with a new look website

March 11, 2015

Tags: writing classes, Northeast Ohio

We've finally updated and I hope improved my website…just in time for Spring. It's brighter for sure, and I hope you find it clearer and easier to navigate. I'll be posting much more soon.

Oh, and if you're looking for a writing class, mine starts in April at the Valley Art Center in Chagrin Falls. For those of you who might be reading this in another place (such as Goodreads), you can find it on my website, www.scottlax.com. Just click the "Teaching" link.

What is a Full-Time Writer, Anyway?

January 11, 2015

Tags: full-time writing

You might ask what it means to be a full-time writer.

It means you write all the time. You wrote, initially, perhaps, to express yourself, or for the art of it, or because it was part of your job, if you're, for example, in marketing or P.R.

Then, one day, you realize it's all you do. You do it to express yourself. You do it for the art. You do it for money. You do it because, after years of doing other things, it's all you really want to do, or know how to do well, or because it's become as much a part of you as your own blood, to paraphrase something I wrote in THE YEAR THAT TREMBLED.

One day – you don't know which day – you were a full-time writer, writing for all those reasons, writing for your life.

That's how you know. It's no longer a choice. It just is.

Back to the Blog (on a regular basis)

December 27, 2014

Tags: writing life, freelance writing

The past year, for me, as for many of you, as been busy. One of the effects of that is that I haven't blogged. But that's changing now.

Many of you are aspiring writers, some of whom I've taught at workshops and seminars, or spoken to at school assemblies or even in the coffee shop. This is my way of continuing the dialogues we may have begun at those events and meetings.

So...where I'm coming from:

Writing is all I do professionally. My "day job" is full-time writing as well creative writing. That's something I'll be writing about soon: How I balance creative writing with freelance work.

Next up is a nonfiction book that I'm keeping under wraps. I think many of you will be interested. And, of course, fiction in the form of novels, short stories and maybe a screenplay.

I'l write about what I'm reading (and sometimes why I'm reading it), and perhaps you'll share with me your reading suggestions.

I'll be slowly filling up my events schedule. I have an upcoming event in Cleveland Heights on January 19, which I'll be talking about soon.

Other projects are on the boards, too. But this blog will focus on writing. Whether you're a part or full-time writer, a reader, or interested in the literary life, I hope you enjoy this blog. I'll share the wisdom of writers, past and present, of different genres, including from sources that are not available online. I'll offer my own advice, and talk about my own challenges with being a working writer.

About the Comments section. I do post comments, once they've been approved by the site administrators. This is an Authors Guild site, and thankfully the AG's standards are higher than those of many sites and periodicals that rely on click-throughs to generate revenue. This is not one of those sites. They – and I – have zero tolerance for trolling, bigotry, and attacks on ideas or people. This blog is about writing, not ranting. The AG still requires courtesy and respect, and so do I. So there is an oasis of that in the virtual world, after all. Your civil words – even if there are disagreements – will be safe here.

See you again soon, and please stop back.

Let's Say You're a Serious Writer

August 21, 2014

Tags: serious writing, advice

If you're a real writer, a serious writer who has devoted your life to words and the power behind them; and if you're a writer who does not just believe but rather knows that writing can and does change the world...then you also know that writing provides you with something intimate – provides you with a deep connection to your authentic self. And you understand the strange and beautiful comfort that can provide.

Books and Wine

March 30, 2014

Tags: wine, terroir, oenophiles, wine in literature

Wine, like people, can be complicated. No one will ever fully understand it, but here are three ways of looking at it.

• Wine is nothing more than fermented grapes that have been getting people hammered for thousands of years. On the other hand, wine, along with beer, has helped keep tribes, seafarers and even cultures alive owning to the fermentation that keeps it from spoiling too quickly. So wine is both a delivery system for relaxation and inebriation, and, throughout history, a contributor to the survival of humans.

• Wine writer Wes Marshall puts another view succinctly in his book, “What’s a Wine Lover to Do?” “Wine is food,” he writes. “It can be an integral part of a meal, enhancing food’s flavors, aiding digestion, and acting as a social lubricant.”

• On the far spectrum of the sublime, wine is a gift from God or the gods. It has a spiritual quality that comes from the l’âme du vin, or the “soul of wine.” Those who feel this way about wine may sense a divine quality to it. Wine has been used in religious rituals of different kinds for millennia. There are characters in my novel who view wine in this way.

Who really knows, though? Maybe wine is a combination of all three views, or something else all together. In my most recent novel, “Vengeance Follows,” wine is a non-human character, informing plot points, motivations, occupations, dialogue and spiritual elements of the story. As I’ve said in interviews, my protagonist, Sam, an expatriate wine writer from Chicago, who moved to Paris and ends up in Chestnut Falls, Ohio, knows more about wine than I do.



The Midwest Book Review on VENGEANCE FOLLOWS

March 17, 2014

Tags: The Midwest Book Review

"THE MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW: "Scott Lax is a master wordsmith of the first order and once again demonstrates his talent and expertise with "Vengeance Follows". A minor masterpiece of suspense and human nature, "Vengeance Follows" is a terrifically entertaining read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections." -- March 2014

The Role of the Writer

March 15, 2014

Tags: Anaïs Nin, the role of the writer

Anaïs Nin, 1903-1977
The quote that has sustained me as a writer more than any other, that I have taught more than any other is this: "The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." -- Anaïs Nin. Why? Because writers of all stripes have to dig to find the story behind the story, the words behind the words, the meaning behind the obvious, the depth beneath the surface.