Holiday wishes and holiday books



Happy New Year! May 2022 bring safety, good health, and lots of reading and writing.

After a week’s holiday, I’m looking forward to starting the New Year by sharing new Four Questions with… interviews, Craft Lessons, Readings to Savor, and much more. Tomorrow’s interview is with award-winning New Yorker staff writer and author Paige Williams who discovers the universal by tracking the granular.

I hope the holidays brought you the best writer’s gift: books.
For Christmas, I got Jonathan Franzen’s acclaimed novel “Crossroads.” I’m looking forward to diving in.

Please consider two writing advice books that I just published.  Both are available on Amazon in paperback and ebook editions through my author page or the direct links below.

Writers on Writing: Inside the lives of 55 distinguished writers and editors.  It’s an anthology of interviews drawn from two years of reaching out for Chip’s Writing Lessons to best-selling authors Susan Orlean and David Finkel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Lane DeGregory, John Branch, Diana K. Sugg and Thomas French, acclaimed poet Patricia Smith, Edgar Award-winning mystery writer Bruce DeSilva, powerhouse narrative editor Jan Winburn and 46 others that you first met here. 55 writers. Hundreds of Writing Insights. 111 journal writing prompts make it an interactive writing workshop.

“By asking four questions to 55 of our finest writers and editors, Chip Scanlan has hosted one of the greatest writing conferences you will ever attend.” – Roy Peter Clark, author of “Writing Tools”, “The Glamour of Grammar,” “Murder your Darlings.” 

“A marvelous book for writers, people who have a passion for writing, or simply, who want to become writers. Yet what strikes me about this book is that it is not just for writers only.” – The Blogging Owl 

Writers on Writing: The Journal” is a companion or standalone volume with 55 coaching tips, 55 inspirational quotes, like the ones you find here in the “Writers Speak” feature, and the 111 writing prompts drawn from the first book, along with three blank pages after each chapter. Here’s the place to start your day with reactions, stories, dreams. 


In this piece for Poynter Online, Roy Peter Clark wrote a tribute to writers who write about their writing and included the foreword to my first book, along with his Four Questions interview. 

And ICYMI, here’s my story behind the self-publishing journey that produced these two books and also provides a wealth of information for anyone considering that route to bring their books before the public.

My New Year’s resolutions for 2022: Never a day without a line. Publish more. Visit my local independent bookstore, Tombolo Books, in St. Petersburg, Fl. Support the independent bookstore in your community.

What are yours?


Please spread the word to sign up for Chip’s Writing Lessons.

Interested in personal coaching? Reach out to me at

Browse the newsletter archive. To find earlier issues, scroll to the end of the archive page, where you will find arrows that help you toggle back and forth between them.

Question? Comment? Suggestion? Email me at or send a reply to this newsletter.

May the writing go well, and may you be well.

Nulla dies sine linea / Never a day without a line

Black Lives Matter

It’s never too late!


If like me, you forgot someone on your holiday gift list, yourself included, it’s not too late to give the writers and avid readers in your life the jolt of inspiration delivered by my new book, “Writers on Writing.”

It’s a collection of interviews with 55 distinguished writers and editors, including Susan Orlean, Pulitzer Prize winners Lane DeGregory, Tom French and David Finkel, acclaimed poet Patricia Smith and Edgar Award-winning mystery writer Bruce DeSilva.

Of the book, Roy Peter Clark, the king of writing advice books, said: “By asking four questions to 55 of our finest writers and editors, Chip Scanlan has hosted one of the greatest writing conferences you will ever attend.”

So I’m giving Amazon gift cards to those I left behind when ordering the book as a gift, or sending them directly the Kindle version. In the digital age, it’s never too late for procrastinators like you and me.

Happy Holidays,



Chip’s Writing Lessons newsletter #66


Last week’s issue is the last one before a holiday break.


Writers Speak | Marge Piercy on good work habits

Interview | 4 Questions with Mike Sager

Craft Lesson | 10 paradoxes of the writing life

Reading Matter | “From reporter to the corner office: A self-publisher’s maiden voyage,” by Chip Scanlan, Poynter Online

Tip of the Week | Accept critiques of your work

#writers #interview #writing #work

CRAFT LESSON: Attitude is all


When I think of the hundreds of writers I have coached over the years, the best ones impressed me with their intellect and creativity. But what stands out most are not these strengths, important as they may be. Instead, it’s their attitude that makes them special in my eyes.

“The attitude we choose is by far the most important choice we make every day.”


Three decades of working with writers have convinced me that attitude — a way of thinking that is reflected in a person’s behavior —  matters more than talent. 

Talent may open the door, but attitude gets you inside the room.

“Most people place an undue emphasis on talent. I don’t doubt that it exists, but talent is essentially a potential for something. The issue is really not talent as an independent element, but talent in relationship to will, desire and persistence. Talent without these things vanishes and even modest talent with those characteristics grows.”


Writing is a craft. It relies on a set of skills: reporting and researching, writing and revision (and more revision), understanding of structure, and facility with language, syntax, and style. Mastery requires years of study, work and above all, patience. Malcolm Gladwell famously estimated that achieving mastery in many fields requires 10,000 hours of work. True or not, there’s no doubt that becoming a good writer takes an enormous expenditure of time and effort. And without the right attitude, the willingness to do that work, the chances of success are slim to none. 

In a field where so much — success and rejection, for starters —  is out of a writer’s hands, attitude is one thing we can control. We can decide whether to procrastinate or write every day, give up or commit to one more revision, try our hand at a different genre, or learn and learn from other writers rather than be consumed by jealousy about their achievements.

Inspired by the wisdom of acclaimed designer Milton Glaser, legendary coach Lou Holtz and David Maraniss, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, I found myself musing about the nature of attitude and its importance to writers seeking success, including myself. Here’s what I came up with. It’s a partial list; I hope you’ll add to it in the comment section.

  • Attitude matters than more than, talent.
  • Attitude makes the difference between giving up and sticking with a story.
  • Attitude means making one more phone call, writing one more draft, burrowing into your draft one more time to refine and polish your story.
  • Attitude means a collaborative relationship with editors rather than a toxic one.
  • Attitude means submitting a story the same day someone rejects it.
  • In the end, attitude is what makes the difference between failure and spectacular success

CRAFT QUERY: What does attitude mean to you?

May the writing go well.

Photograph by Jeff Sheldon courtesy of