The Heart and Craft of Writing

Lesson 11/15 - Your Work is None of Your Business


The Heart and Craft of Writing


Lesson Info

Your Work is None of Your Business

This is what I do. You work is actually none of your business. This might sound really counterintuitive. It's like well of course my work is my business. It's my, I have to write the best book ever so that everyone will love it, and I can live and finally have the life that I want. It's like you have your writing voice. You have the stories that are going to come naturally to you. And you're gonna write those stories, and you're gonna have high points and low points. And then you're gonna send your work out into the world. And then there's nothing you can do about it. So I really think that it's so great to just have this practice of like your work is none of ... Is it good? Does it suck? It's none of your business. Who knows? You can be just like I don't know. I don't know if my work is any good or not and try to find some sort of peace with that. And that's hard 'cause, you know, when you do feel like something's really good, you want to be just like I'm awesome. I just wrote somethi...

ng good. But then the flip side of that is just like I'm such a bad writer. I just wrote the worst piece of crap. And it's like, this little, you know, roller coaster that you can get on when there's an alternative idea which is that your just a channel for whatever story is yours to channel, you know? And you do your best, and you get it out there, and then you move on to the next thing. I find this really freeing because then I get to move on to the next thing which is great. You know, people have different opinions about how much a book should be edited, you know? And I probably fall on one extreme where I don't do a ton of editing, and I know I have another writer friend who has edited his book 11 times. Like has it gotten any better after the third edit? I don't know you know. It's kind of like really expensive jeans. You're like after a certain price point, like it's just a jean, you know? It's like it's not better because it's $400. It's just like the same as the $100 jean, you know? So is, you know, how much better is a book, you know, after the 11th edit? At what point do you know to let go of your work? I should feel like three edits, and then I bring in outside eyes. I do believe that you could edit your book, one book, for the rest of your life, you know? I look at my book Valencia which I wrote when I was like 23 years old, 25 years old, and people like it. And I'm grateful for that. And I look at it now, and I'm like (gags) oh my God. Like whoa, who needed an editor really badly, you know? But the thing is that, you know, it is the book it is because I didn't edit it 11 times. And if I did, it would be a really different book. Better or worse, who knows? We don't know, but at some point, you have to just let your book be the book that it's going to be. Put it out into the world. Wish it well. It's like a little child. You don't have control over it. You don't know where it's gonna go. My book Valencia ended up in Iceland. Somebody read it, and now I'm here teaching this workshop because there's just these little spirits that you created that go out into the world so. Yeah. It's none of your business. Just keep your nose to the ground and do your next book.

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.

Irene Richards