“The Tragedy I See At Starbucks Every Day” – a new post by Art Holcomb

There are a few things I want you to know about this post, and all the articles that appear here from Art Holcomb.

First, I post these because I value the information he provides and the credibility of its source. Art is one of the premiere writing gurus in the business, not only in the screenwriting trade, but for novelists and playwrights, as well.

Art has launched a series of audio training programs that are game-changers for writers at all levels.  When these programs are referenced here, you should know that I’m not a paid affiliate, I don’t make a cent off your enrollment.

That said, Art and I have a mutual-respect for the work we do, because we share so much relative to the nature of the writing craft, and the value of it. It’s that last part that, perhaps, sets us apart in a digital space virtually clogged with “mentors” (so many of whom are teaching how to be a successful self-promoter and self-publisher, which is a completely different skill-set than writing an effective story, which in the heat of the self-publishing gold rush seems to have descended to footnote status).

It’ll never be a footnote here, or with anything by Art Holcomb (who might, in fact, endorse my training products, as well; that’s it as far as quid pro quo is concerned… it’s backed by belief). Indeed, for both of us craft will remain where it belongs: center-stage, at the forefront of the work, as the catalyst for careers and dreams. As I launch my own line of video-based training programs very soon (see HERE to sign up for that mailing list, which includes a FREE training module and on-going discounts), that will remain the focus and the entire reason I keep writing about this stuff.

And, why I’ll continue to endorse Art Holcomb and anything he puts out there to help up reach our writing goals.



Hi – this is Art – and I’m glad to be back with my friends at StoryFix!

Let me start out by telling you a story…

I went into my local Starbucks on the way to a conference in Los Angeles the other day, and conducted the same experiment that I’ve done many times before.

Got my coffee (regular drip, half-and half). Sat down and looked around.

And there they all were. I counted twelve people on their laptops, heads down, a serious look on their faces.

Furiously writing away.

Now, as a writing teacher, I’m always fascinated with what writers are creating. And so, like a busy body (and not really having anything else to do), I asked each of them a few questions:

      – What are you writing?
      – What’s the premise of  your story?
      – How long have you been working on it?
      – What draft are you on?

And so, here’s what I found out that day, which really got my attention in an alarming way:

Of this group, six were writing screenplays, six were writing novels – a nice, even split. On average they have been working on their stories for more than eleven months each, one for more than four years. Three were just starting, the others were on – at least – their fifth draft.

And therein resides the tragedy.

As a screenwriter and playwright, I’m trained to produce work quickly. My ability to get paid depends on it.  And, as a professional teacher of screenwriters and novelists, I teach my students the all-important technique of writing fast: getting the work out of their head and onto the page… and then using all their craft knowledge and process abilities to complete the work in the shortest period of time possible.

This is a vital skill. For example, when under assignment by a studio to complete a screenplay, a writer is typically asked to produce no more than two drafts and two polishes of the work – usually in less than six weeks.

Years ago, I first looked around a similar Starbucks and saw a similar sight – writers working away on draft after draft, and getting no further along toward their goal of publication or production.

So, here was the truth of the matter.

These are likely projects that will never be finished.

These are dreams that will never be achieved.

I saw the problem as twofold:  Here were writers who needed better craft skills, as well as a better process for getting their work done.

And process was the real problem here. Because it’s something that few writers even consider changing.  Most have stumbled upon a way of writing that worked for them in the beginning and they’ve stuck with it without question ever since, perhaps rejecting any solid guidance that might challenge it.

A shame, that. A real professional is always listening, always open to new and better ways of doing the work.

Is that you?

Here’s a valid analogy: writers – especially anyone who wants to have a career as a writer – are really more like athletes.  As such, we should be constantly tweaking and modifying our process to get the most work out of ourselves. (I frequently remind myself that I have only so many hours in a day, so many days in a year – and only so many years left to leave my mark on the world.)

And so, to help writers develop their fundamental craft skills, I created a comprehensive course to teach just that (my StorySkills series – many of you have already taken it).

However, that was only part of the equation, because . . .

The best craft skills in the world can’t help you if you don’t have a way to ACTUALLY get the work done and finished.

So now, I’ve created a 6-week audio course that teaches you how to improve your process. 

It represents the same practices and techniques that professional writers apply to their work. You’ll learn my listening to the same lessons I give professionals and using the accompanying workbooks to drive the practices home.

The course is called Two Drafts -Two Polishes. It makes a system that professional writers use to write quickly to anyone who feels this need… because we all labor within the context of this need.

For more information, and to register, click HERE.

Imagine being able to get the story out of your imagination just as you see it, to be able to structure it for maximum impact quickly, and to polish it in such a way that agents and publisher find compelling. Can you imagine that? My guess is… you can taste that.

So, the questions you need to ask yourself today are:

– Am I actually completing the stories I start?
– Am I stalled in my current story… not sure what to do next?
– Am I doing draft after draft… changing the words but never finishing?
– Do I need some help?

 The fact is – there’s no point in writing if you never finish. 

It’s as simple as that.

Here is something I know is absolutely true: There is an audience out there waiting for your story.  But they’ll never get a chance to enjoy it if you don’t get it done.

Two Drafts -Two Polishes can teach you how. Just click HERE for all the information you need to get started. This isn’t a webinar to put on your calendar, it’s a training program that is yours, to experience at your pace, as many times as you like… in your car, in your office, and most of all, in your head.

Don’t be one of those lost souls at Starbucks! Take control of your process!

Take control of your writing career.

I’ll talk with you again soon.




Filed under Guest Bloggers

12 Responses to “The Tragedy I See At Starbucks Every Day” – a new post by Art Holcomb

  1. Awesome. And so important, too. With my latest novel I did just that, two drafts, two polish, and submitted. Just signed the contract today, I’m happy to say. But I could never have done it without Larry, you, and all the other (good) craft guys out there. Thank you for all you do! There’s no need to write a sucky first draft. I wish more writers would understand that.

  2. Sounds like something I could use right now! I’ll be traveling the months of January and February. So, it will be a challenge for me to actually attend the class during the dates it’ll be taught. I would like to confirm that I’ll have access to the material/class for a later date. Thanks!

    • Joy:

      The seminar is actually a series of released recordings – so, even though the first one is available first on January 9th, they are in fact available to you whenever you’re free. That’s the beauty of these recordings. So you can sign up now and the links will be emailed to you. Enjoy them whenever your free. I have many students listen to them while driving!

      Thanks for your interest!


  3. MikeR

    I’m a professional computer programmer, and I was once questioned why I wasn’t “working” when I was poring over a word-processor instead of a (source code) text editor. Why did it seem that I was writing the documentation first?

    A glance at what I actually WAS writing quickly dispelled the doubts. I was planning. Working out the entire thing on paper before anyone started writing code.

    Meeting with the (internal) client with just that book … not a bunch of half-written source code that would now need to be torn apart and rewritten. (Which, by the way, is where most “bugs” come from.) We could present our ideas (usually as very quick mock-ups sometimes on a legal pad), get feedback, and implement those changes painlessly.

    The source-code was subsequently written, with the help of a couple other people, in about a week and a half, including testing. Each one of us simply took a page and created exactly what it called for. The questions had already been answered; the details already worked out. The system in question was deployed in time for “Black Friday and beyond,” and with only a couple of inevitable tweaks it worked flawlessly … as it surely needed to. So far as I know, it’s still in service.

    “Oh, yes, you CAN Plan!” Don’t write gobs of “finished” text if you don’t know that it’s going to be part of a finished draft. Don’t try to write it if you don’t know “what the writer knows, but the reader doesn’t (yet).” Don’t write “film that winds up on the cutting-room floor.” Don’t make “changing things” painful and expensive. There’s more than one way to write that scene, and don’t even write it yet if you’re not going to use it. The first idea that popped into your head might be the best one or it might not: keep ’em all. Writing consists of making choices. So, make “choosing” easy and cheap.

  4. Art, the link to PayPal from your site didn’t work, so I went into my paypal account and sent the 197.00 from there. Looking forward to the recordings!

  5. Larry- Thanks for sharing Art with us!

    Art – I signed up for the class via Paypal. I’m curious if the course will also help advanced writers? I’ve written 8 books, and can write a 66k novel in 2 weeks from outline to finished first draft. So, I’d really like to improve how long it takes to revise a manuscript, since I want to revise THREE 100k books this year (so I can’t take 6 months Full-time work to do it!) Thanks!

  6. I write a lot and finish my work, and self publish. I do very well. BUT I can do much better I just don’t know how. Would this help me to take my fiction/screenplays to a new level?

  7. Pingback: Death 2 a “Pantser” | American Writers Exposed

  8. Larry you have continued to be an invaluable source in my writing career. The pleasure of meeting you and attending your workshop in Portland, OR last April was mind-blowing. You are a resource and friend. I am not sure what I have been up to since, but this really smacked me like a wet fish and I thank you again!