Erin Anais Hanson: 4.9 Things Writing Teaches

Erin Anais Hanson was born in Ketchikan and raised in Juneau. She is currently a second-year fiction student in UAA’s low-residency MFA program.

1) Always allow your mind to follow a question-train as far as it will go. Questions help build empathy. Empathy is important for many reasons, but is especially essential in creating believable fiction. For example: The janitor has a limp. How did he get it? When did he get it? Did he get it on the job? Was it something that happened to him in childhood? Can he go up stairs? Does it make his job painful? Is it the reason that he is a janitor, or is it his excuse to be a janitor? Does he like his job? Does he hang out with other janitors? Where do janitors hang out? Do they have online forums to talk about janitor issues? Or is it a lonely job? Does he listen to music while he cleans? What kind of music? Or does he listen to books? Etc.

2) Sometimes ask these questions out loud. Asking questions like these out loud can be hard to do since we often associate a lack of knowledge with stupidity. Do it anyway. Questions and their answers result in stories.

3) Give yourself permission to be foolish. You can’t learn anything new unless you stick your neck out. Usually you’ll feel like a fool for longer than you would like, but in the end, whatever you earn will be worth it.

4) Write it down. Just write it down. Write a word on your hand. Write a sentence in that notebook you carry in your purse. Write a page or two in a journal or in your email drafts. Write a short story. Write the start of a novel. Write an epic. Write things everywhere to remind yourself that you need to be writing.

4.9) When people ask what you do for work, tell them you’re a writer first, and then tell them about whatever it is you do for money.

We welcome your posts on 4.9 Things Writing Teaches. Email your list, along with a short bio and (optional) photo to

2 thoughts on “Erin Anais Hanson: 4.9 Things Writing Teaches”

  1. Because I am moving between fields, I have been practicing identifying myself as a writer and poet, first, before claiming the day job role. Sometimes it's awkward to find myself a-swim in the varied reactions out there…but this will smooth out in time. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Thanks for the question-train. Great way to put it! There is something very real in every one of these 4.9 things. Very nice!

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top