A Writer Writes: Jennifer Weiner Wisdom

I love Jennifer Weiner.  Her books are good, but really, I just love her.  After reading a couple of her Lady Lit novels “Good in Bed,” “In Her Shoes,” among others, I browsed her website to see how she got her start and if I could extract some wisdom from her experience.  To my surprise, Weiner posted an extensive essay targeted directly at me!  Well, at aspiring novelists (other authors don’t have nearly as much advice on their sites).  Parts of it really spoke to me, which is why I love her now.  Specifically, she lists 10 steps (updated to 12 steps on her blog) one must take to get published (in reality, it’s 12 she took to get her published, but isn’t all advice basically a summary of one’s personal experiences?).  My favorite step is number 4: “Get a Job (not an MFA).” (An MFA, my lawyer friends, is a Master in Fine Arts.  If you want to master in creative writing, that’s the degree you would get.) Those years are better spent studying life rather than noveling. Beyond that, (and this is the part I liked), an MFA isn’t necessary because regardless of what job you have, a writer writes.

Side note: the other day, I edited a legal brief for my friend and crossed out all the block quotes because I hate block quotes.  Nevertheless, that’s not stopping me from using one in this blog.  I’m breaking my own rule because in explaining the statement “a writer writes,” Weiner said some things that reaffirmed to myself that I am truly a writer.  Those things (almost completely) are below, block-quote style:

If you’re going to be a writer, nothing can stop you.  You’ll write poems, you’ll write stories, you’ll begin a novel that will forever languish in a shoebox beneath your bed, but you will write.  You’ll do it in your spare minutes, you’ll snatch time before work or eschew prime-time TV after.  You’ll do it because it’s your passion and your calling, because doing it makes you happier than almost anything else, because, really, you don’t have any choice… – J. Weiner (The complete quote is on her blog here).

There are other reasons why I love Jennifer Weiner, but I’ll save those for another day.  For now, I’ll share with you her 12 steps to getting  novel published (some are depressing, but they her steps, not mine!).  She discusses each step in depth here.

Jennifer Weiner’s 12 Step Program to Getting Published:

  1. Have an Unhappy Childhood
  2. Have a Miserable Love Life
  3. Major in Liberal Arts (but not necessarily creative writing)
  4. Get a Job (not an MFA)
  5. Write the Story Only You Can Write
  6. Get a Dog
  7. Get Published
  8. Find an Agent
  9. Be a Smart Consumer
  10. Self-Publish?
  11. Use Social Media
  12. Read

I certainly agree with some of these, but not all.  What do others think??

UPDATE: Omg, Jennifer Weiner re-tweeted my blog post!!! Now I love her even more!!!  (Of course I tweeted “a writer writeRs” instead of a “writer writes,” but she tweeted me anyway!)


4 thoughts on “A Writer Writes: Jennifer Weiner Wisdom

  1. Hey, I just found this post because of JW’s retweet. Anyhoo, I thought I’d say hi because I am also a writer and a lawyer (well, former lawyer, but my husband practices).

  2. I have completed steps 1 – 6 COMPLETELY. (Except I have 2 cats, not a dog.)7.Get Published and 8.Find an Agent are the bitch :/ Don’t wanna self publish, and now I am on TWITTER and FB. OY. I think the one missing component is having my stars aligned.

    • Seriously! She definitely needs to add luck to the list. I’ve more or less done 2-5, and I’ve definitely done # 11 (social media) :). Having time to read (#12) is actually pretty hard…

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