Two days ago John and I attended a reading and book-signing by Augusten Burroughs, one of John's all-time favorite authors. Augusten was promoting his new book, Possible Side Effects, but is probably most well-known for Running with Scissors (the movie adaptation of which will be out this fall, starring Annette Benning, directed by Nip/Tuck's Ryan Murphy... not that I'm excited or anything).
As you can see, Augusten's fashion sense is pretty laid back, so he fits into the Denver scene flawlessly. After he read an excerpt from his new book (15 rather tedious minutes), Augusten took Q&A for the rest of the presentation (45 really entertaining and informative minutes). Many of the questions centered around his Recovery, his writing style, and his new movie (!!! so excited !!!) -- I was SO proud of John, who asked Augusten if he ever missed the advertising business, his pre-writing career in NYC.
Augusten had some insightful tips for aspiring writers. The first tip is a bit stock, but appropriate: write every day, no matter what you write. This is such a simple, obvious piece of advice, yet is perhaps the hardest discipline yourself. Augusten's second suggestion: read, read, read; in particular, read books that are challenging. In my own experience, if a book is tough to get through, I usually QUIT half-way through -- I mean, why not? My free time is valuable, after all. Augusten encourages perseverance with the difficult books -- reading a book outside your usual interests will broaden your range and stimulate your writing.
If you've never read Augusten Burroughs, John recommends Running with Scissors. That's where I'll start.