The First Fifty


The Heart and Craft of Writing


Lesson Info

The First Fifty

The first 50 pages, I had this thing happen to me where I had a few different projects, and I wasn't sure which one to go with, which one was the good one, you know? So I picked one. First 50 pages, I'm cruising, I'm so glad I picked this story, I'm having so much fun. I hit that 50th page, around there. This was the wrong project. Why did I think this was the right project? This stinks. I don't know what I'm doing. How am I going to get 200 more pages out of this? I gotta go do the other project instead. I go start the other project. 50 pages in, same thing happens. I go back to the other project. I'm like, "Oh, I get it." For me, when I'm starting a project, I'm filled with possibility, I'm inspired, I know how to enter the story, I figured that out. So I get in it, and then it's that, it's the hard part. The hard part of writing happens. So I learned that feelings aren't facts. Just because I'm feeling like this is the wrong project doesn't mean that it is the wrong project and that...

any project that I go, the same thing is going to happen. I'm the problem. It's like when you realize that you've been the problem in your relationships, and you're just like, oh god, you know? It's actually been me. So, yeah. There's me. 50 pages in, wait a second. Maybe this is the wrong, how am I going to do it? See your project through. Just see your project through. And it's hard. I know it's really hard. I started a screenplay, and I don't, I'm really feeling like it was the wrong screenplay, but I know because I've learned my lesson writing novels. It's the same thing. I have to just finish this project before I start something else. Otherwise, you will have little half-finished projects here and there, and they'll make you feel crazy. And you will have done all this work and not really have anything to show for it. And it can really get you down. I really, really believe in sticking with your project through thick and thin. Any problems you're having you're going to have with whatever else you run away to. So there's just no easy way through a book. There's going to be moments of flow and moments of hardship, and you just have to stick with it.

Class Description

If you’ve embarked on the process of writing your first book, there’s a good chance that you’re struggling a bit. Books are big, unwieldy creatures, and even the bravest of among us can feel overwhelmed by the thought of filling all those hundreds of blank pages with intelligent, effervescent words.

Award-winning author, editor and teacher Michelle Tea offers this class to help you believe in your abilities as a writer, stick to your goal and push through that first draft. She’ll outline some of the key tricks to writing a great book and inspire you to produce the vibrant, sparkling and unique work that’s inside your head and waiting to come out.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Be specific and avoid vagueness.
  • Bring your five senses to your writing by including sound, light, scent, texture and taste in every scene.
  • Find your pacing: write slow, write strong.
  • Show, don’t tell.
  • Build your unique voice and create a shelf of voices you wish your voice to be in conversation with.
  • Keep your editing brain away from your creative brain.



What a wonderful class! Michelle is knowledgeable, authentic, generous and open-hearted with her experience and advice. She offers a genuine sense of validation and practical tips for new writers. I especially liked her thoughts on how to carve out a space for your writing.