Litsub was created to be an email-based community of writers, editors, readers, and literary folks. Started in 2019, was a brief experiment to create a place for people to share in their love of writing.

Email remains the most robust, intimate social community online. Letters to friends are thoughtful, deep, and empowering.

Alas, fostering communities is challenging. In the brief time I spent running Litsub, I spent more time thinking about the community aspect then it brought benefits to my writing, which was strictly counter to the point.

For posterity sake, an archive of the few posts to the list are below.


From: Nick Wynja <>
Subject: [Writers] A Curiosity for Words
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2019 07:47:28 -0500

Welcome to the writers.litsub mailing list!

I've been thinking about the idea for this community off and on for a few
years. As I've been focusing on my writing practice lately it has become more
important to me.

William Zinsser wrote in "On Writing Well":

> You'll never make your mark as a writer unless you develop a respect for
> words and a curiosity about their shades of meaning that is almost obsessive.
> The English language is rich in strong and supple words. Take the time to
> root around and find the ones you want.

Often I find myself struggling to grab hold of words that seem just out of
reach. My vocabulary is stunted. Too often I've wished for a legion of writers
to have on call when I'm stuck, lost.

I've spent enough time lost (and have read about other writers who spend their
time lost) to know this is normal. But it's lonely trudging through the woods
trying to find your way out of a sentence. I'm glad to find some friends to
help along the way.

Do you have any good suggestions for finding words just out of reach? Do you
keep a Thesaurus on your desk? What do you do to practice your vocabulary or to
stumble across new words?

Nick Wynja

From: Nick Wynja <>
Subject: [Writers] Voice
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2019 23:04:42 -0500

Hi friends,

I recently dug up some old creative writing pieces from 2012 and 2013. When I
wrote them, I had just moved to New York and was stumbling into who I was.
Discovering that writing was something I needed to do was an accident that was

I wanted to read these few pieces again to help me work through finding my
voice. The beginnings of a large writing project is intimidating and I wanted
to go into it early with confidence of who I am and what I want to say.

I was hoping to find some clues in these early pieces like hints I left myself
before I was consciously writing as a craft. As you'd expect, these pieces were
raw and rambling. I was clearly lost and lonely. Yet when I reread those pieces
I still saw myself in them. The topics, when not forlorn, are often about
journeys, moments, and scenery. Just as I was at the time, my style was a
little sad and disconnected.

Maybe in five years, when I look back on what I'm writing now it'll be more
full of joy and humanity since I am too.

What do you do to help find and refine your voice? Do you feel like yourself
when you write or are you impersonating?

Sincerely, Nick

Nick Wynja

From: Nick Wynja <>
Subject: [Writers] Favorite Current Essayists?
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2019 08:30:14 -0500

Hi everyone,

I'm curious who your favorite current, living, producing essayists are.

A favorite of mine right now is Jill Lepore. She's a historian and staff writer
at The New Yorker.

She weaves her recent essay on journalism[1] together beautifully while her
essay in the latest edition on Eugene V. Debs[2] had me hooked early, somehow
capturing the labor, race, and class issues of the late 1800s in the first few

I'd love to hear about the essayists that inspire you.



From: Nick Wynja <>
Subject: [Writers] Breakthrough
Date: Mon, 01 Jul 2019 11:34:52 -0400

I made a breakthrough on my book project this weekend. After letting a draft
sit for a while, I came back to read it. It is awful. It's nothing but a
disembodied voice complaining. I need to start over but at least I know where I

Have you made similar discoveries? That something you've put a lot of time into
just isn't working? Did you scrap it and start over or just leave it in the
trash and move on?

Best, Nick

P.S. As a reminder, this is a small mailing list of writers. Replying goes to
the whole list so we can work through the writing process as a community.

From: Nick Wynja <>
Subject: [Writers] Messy
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2019 21:46:01 -0400

Hi writing friends,

I've noticed a fundamental shift in my writing process that should not have
come as a surprise.

For many years, I focused on making my writing process as efficient as
possible. This led me to spending an undeniably grotesque amount of time honing
in on a work flow that removed as much rewriting between mediums, reduced the
times I needed to move around words, copy/paste between platforms, or take
otherwise cruel steps between getting ideas from my head to the world.

Some parts of this process continue to pay dividends yet I was surprised to
realize how, at its most natural, unadulterated state, the writing process is
just messy.

The essay I'm working on right now, coming in at only around 700 words edited,
started on a yellow legal pad, was then typed, reworked through a massacre of
red Fineliner on a printed draft, rewritten again, first on another slab of
yellow pad, then again, yes, on a typewriter, only to be then retyped into a
new text file draft, printed off again and, only parts of it surviving through
another red Fineliner bloodshed, where new parts were written on the back of
said print off in red ink, then to be retyped again, before a painstaking game
of "this or that", moving between sets of reorganized words, sentences, and
paragraphs like an optometrist fine tuning a prescription.

Not efficient, no. But it felt right.

Each time I touched this essay by rewriting by hand or retyping it, I second
guessed whether I was saying what I needed or whether there was a more natural
way for the words to be arranged. If I had only just passed over it
continuously in the same medium, I'm not sure I would have been as ruthless in

The harder I try to write something true, the more effort I put into scrapping
nearly every word of what I'm working on to get to something more genuine. I've
come to recognize that "efficiency" in process has little place in writing


P.S. Reminder that this isn't your usual "newsletter". If you reply, your
message will go to a small group of writers; about a dozen right now. Don't be
shy! Reply with how you have noticed your way of writing change over time.