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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Naked and Drunk Writing with Highly Acclaimed Writer and Teacher Adair Lara

By Sophia Kercher

This week, I spoke with the award-winning author, journalist, and teacher Adair Lara.  Lara is known to bare it all.  She strips down to the deeply personal in her memoir Hold Me Close, Let me Go and in Naked, Drunk, and Writing, a guide to crafting memoirs and personal essays.

The writing coach is also known for not letting her students shy away from getting personal in their writing.  Furthermore, she gives her students the tools they need for publishing success.  95% of her students have been published; their work have been featured in magazines and newspapers including the New York Times, Smithsonian, the Washington Post, Newsweek, Self, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Vanity Fair—not to mention the dozens of memoirs and novels that were incubated in her classes.

Adair will be bringing her expertise to Writing Pad’s Joshua Tree High Desert Retreat.  You can study with her Oct. 21-22 at the picturesque 29 Palms Inn. To sign up/for more information, contact or call 323-333-2954.  Until then, Adair has generously shared some great advice on writing and getting published:

1.    People think that writing a memoir or personal essay is a magical thing-- it’s not.  It can be taught.  Lara’s workshops teach a practical structure for how to write an essay or put together a memoir.  They also leave room for exploring what style or genre of writing is for you; whether it’s writing humorous pieces, long-form or short-form. “I have my students write everything to see what fits them best.”

2.    Some of the best writing comes from sitting down and writing for 15 minutes. Lara says: “I often assign instant writing prompts. The idea is as soon as you get the prompt you have to write your entire story in 15 minutes.”  Adair will be will be leading retreat attendees through fun, generative prompts like these in Joshua Tree.

3.  A writing habit leads to being published. To start, Lara says to "apply part A (butt) to part b (chair)."  Then she advises that you write every day, stick to a writing schedule, disconnect yourself from email and the internet when you are writing, utilize writing partners, take classes, and attend retreats to improve your craft and give yourself the structure you need to finish your writing projects.  This method has worked for her and her students.

4.   Writing is about how human beings change. Lara loves helping her students delve into and write about the turning points of their lives which lead to compelling stories on the page.

5.    Intensive writing workshops like the Writing Pad High Desert Retreat often lead to long-lasting friendships. Lara says: “You put a room full of intelligent people who are really being honest about their lives in their writing and you can see how bonding will develop. . . I’ve seen thousands of writing friendships begin like this."

6.  Getting naked sells. Lara, finally, explains, “Lots of readers have said that they bought my book because of the title.”

Don't forget to sign up for the High Desert Retreat for your chance to study with Adair. I can't wait to see you in Joshua Tree this October!

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