Q&A with writer Lyzette Wanzer

Hear about San Francisco writer and editor Lyzette Wanzer’s love of killer kombucha and thrilling tennis matches (along with her writing passions and teaching style, of course) in this author Q&A. 

Q: What are your hobbies and passions (other than writing)?

I follow the tennis and baseball seasons. I used to follow figure skating and ice hockey too, but had to cut them out due to time. Both tennis and baseball are very long seasons and it takes a lot of time to remain current with the matches, the games, and the standings.

Q: How do you deal with writers’ block and/or procrastination?

I put aside the project that’s fueling the block or procrastination and turn to or begin another project. I also take weeks-long breaks from writing just to read books that are on my Goodreads list.

Q: How do you foster a creative and inclusive classroom environment?

I have a Workshop Bill of Rights that I require students to read and adhere to. This is a page-and-a-half document detailing how I expect students to conduct themselves in my workshops and addresses topics of racial, ethnic, religious, and gender inclusion. I created this document during 2020’s fraught summer of racial reckoning.

Q: Are you a coffee or tea person while grading assignments?

Neither. I’m probably sipping a bottle of kombucha or a can of La Croix flavored water!

Q: Who’s an ideal student to take your class?

For any of my professional development workshops, my ideal students are:

  • career-oriented, committed go-getters who are keen to advance their writing careers
  • eager to learn the business side of being a writer
  • maintaining a regular writing practice, whether they have published or not
  • sophisticated readers. They tend to be savvy about parsing and analyzing text, for example.
  • welcoming and supportive of all types of participants, including various ethnicities, nationalities, religions, gender expressions, and sexual orientations
  • able to check their egos and non-class-related baggage at the door.

Q: What do you love most about teaching?

I love it when, six months after a workshop is over, or even a year (and often it’s even longer), I hear from a former student whose email is filled with elation and says: “Lyzette—guess what? I just won my first literary grant!” or “I just won second place in the Writer’s Digest competition!” or “Such-and-such journal is publishing my short story! This is my first publication credit.” 

As a teacher, it just doesn’t get much better than that, and it’s the most rewarding part of my job. News like that brightens my entire day!

Q: What advice do you have for other writers today?

One of the most powerful tools in your arsenal, besides talent, follow-through, and persistence, is a thick skin. You won’t get far as an author without it.

Q: If you could write a letter to your younger writer self, what’s the one tip you’d give?

If you want to succeed as an author, just as much work needs to happen outside of the studio as within it. 

Invest the time and learn the business side and professional practices side of being a writer! Doing so will save you a ton of time and headaches, and shorten the timeline to your goal of establishing a sustainable author career with multiple sources of foundation funding support.

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