What I learned from Sara Gruen

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During IFOA this year I attended a round table, or as host Steven W. Beattie called it, a “high brow version of The View“.
The main reason I attended was to hear from a writer that I discovered this year and who I really like. Sara Gruen is best known for her book Water for Elephants. I have told anyone who will listen how much I love this book. If you haven’t read it, you really should, or at least see the movie version that comes out next year.


Sara was charming and seemed to be comfortable on stage. She curled her legs up under her on the chair and made the audience laugh during the one hour event. Here are three things I learned from Sara Gruen:

1. She doesn’t think of the readers when she’s writing, and she doesn’t read reviews once the book has come out. Sara said she has “to be unaware of the audience” when she writes.

2. She got “pummeled by rejection” when she was starting out. Her success was not overnight but much more of a slow burn.

3. She doesn’t outline before she writes. She starts on page one and doesn’t edit along the way, which of course means that the first draft probably isn’t very good. Sounds a lot like the NaNoWriMo process I described in an earlier post. And rumour has it that a draft of Water For Elephants was actually written during NaNoWriMo.

Visit Sara’s website to learn more about her other books, like her newest release Ape House.

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