How-To Studio

Welcome to The How-To Studio

Every creative operandi needs a modus — this one’s for you: We write, therefore we am. These are the prose and cons, how-to’s and “why nots?” of making creative work. I’ll be your Ms. Lonely Arts advice columnist.

  • Shit, I Missed Banned Books Week

    Shit, I Missed Banned Books Week

    Despite all of the press releases, despite all the bookstore banners, and despite the groundswell of media attention, I managed to miss Banned Books Week. Last week! Perhaps I was blinded by its ubiquity — I couldn’t see the forest for the trees (before it was pulped into paperbacks). Or maybe there is something more sinister…

  • AI Writing Obituaries

    AI Writing Obituaries

    Last week I received some trade-pub spam from Editor & Publisher topped by the headline: “Optimizing obituaries to drive traffic and increase revenue.” Ugh. I’m all for driving traffic and increasing revenue, but not as a digital grave robber. Reconciling how our words are read by both humans and the search bots that feed them is par…

  • True Stories: Weekly World News Starts Studio

    True Stories: Weekly World News Starts Studio

    As the saying goes, “If you remember the ’90s, you were there and bored.” That’s unless you were a reader of an inky supermarket tabloid that boasted headlines about the fabled “Bat Boy” and other “journalistic” meshugas that instantly turned your coffee table into a Ripley’s Believe it, Or Not exhibit. Well, believe it or not—it’s back: The Weekly World…

  • Brand Plan

    Brand Plan

    James Bond just underwent a redemptive reckoning onscreen. The latest iteration of Superman is, as the New York Times reports, “Up, up and out of the closet.” Rebranding cultural icons seems all the rage. And not just for superheroes. Many public-facing entities have endeavored to refresh their image, some to fix longstanding cultural offenses—looking at you,…

  • The Graduate: Writing in degrees

    The Graduate: Writing in degrees

    Until this week, the only thing Rodney Dangerfield and I had in common was a penchant for one-liners and general anxiety about our respectability. Then we both went “back to school.” His experience was fictional—apart from the cameo by a real-life Kurt Vonnegut—and arrived in the local cineplex as the movie Back to School. My back-to-school…

  • Write is Might: Voice of a (de)Generation

    Write is Might: Voice of a (de)Generation

    Like every other writer I know, I’m the voice of my generation. Apparently, my voice just isn’t loud enough to overcome our collective screams of desperation. That said, I feel obligated to continue trying, partly because I have the rare privilege of being a writer with a day job, which is being a writer—but with some…

  • Writing in Cafes

    Writing in Cafes

    Remember writing in cafes? My own obsession began with Christine’s Cafe in Petaluma in the mid-’80s but quickly metastasized into San Anselmo’s Cafe Nuvo and finally into San Francisco’s North Beach. This is where my cohorts and I vainly searched for traces of the Beats, who, by the early ’90s, were so heavily productized and…

  • How to Write Your Pandemic Movie

    How to Write Your Pandemic Movie

    Fresh from my gig as the editor of the North Bay Bohemian, here’s a bit from my Press Pass column for screenwriters and those who love them. Why wait for the inevitable pandemic movie deluge when you can script your very own COVID-19 horror film right now? Every filmmaker worth a roll of gaffer’s tape…

  • Hunting the Elusive Creative Side Hustle

    Hunting the Elusive Creative Side Hustle

    While sheltering-in-place, I find myself reeling between manic fits of productivity and total torpor. Surely, I say to myself, I can find some kind of cadence and develop a creative side hustle that will keep the grocery deliveries coming as my industry — the media — endures another seismic contraction. Where does the time go? Between…