Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Interview with Holly Landau

Holly Landau is a workshop facilitator and adult learning expert. She’s designed and facilitated dozens of workshops in corporate, non-profit, and community settings addressing a long list of topics including creative writing, poetry, innovation, communication, and various leadership topics.

She was a contributing writer for Women’s Monthly Magazine and has also written national public service announcements, documentary scripts, press releases, advertising copy, theatrical monologues, and a leadership blog. Current writing projects include humorous haiku and songwriting. She is one of the founding organizers of the annual Northeast PA Poetry Festival.

Holly attended American College for the Applied Arts in London, has a BA in Sociology from Thomas Edison State College and is currently completing a Master’s Certificate in Executive Leadership at Cornell University. She is an Adjunct Instructor at Lehigh Carbon Community College and a Guest Lecturer at corporate events and colleges including Penn State. She is currently the CEO & President of Landau Leadership, a corporate training consulting firm, where she coaches and motivates corporate leaders ( She is also a rock-n-roll singer in the acoustic duo, The Sparks (

BDWN: Thanks for speaking with us, Holly! Can you tell us a little bit about your business?

HOLLY: I lead the training & employee development firm, Landau Leadership. We specialize in customized training curriculum, public leadership events, and online learning solutions to boost individual and team productivity. We’re a team of facilitators, curriculum designers, and keynote speakers covering topics like leadership, strategy, creativity, and communication. I also do a lot of writing. I am a regular contributor to several business blogs including, New York Entrepreneur Week, and my own leadership blog at I’m really excited about to be one of the contributing writers for the upcoming American Express OPEN Book on Leadership.

BDWN: For many of us, getting started on a project is half the battle. Why is sitting down and getting to work so difficult?

HOLLY: I’ve talked to so many people about this subject. I know that many people feel stuck because they have too many ideas and all the ideas seem like great places to start. Others say that their minds go blank as soon as they start to write. And some people simply lack the confidence to put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard!). And for some of us, the idea of writing a lengthy novel can seem like a daunting task; and we don’t want to start something we won’t finish.

BDWN: Every writer has fought with writer’s block at one time or another. How do we power through when we get stuck? How can we keep ourselves from just quitting the whole project? Can you give us some pointers on how we can stay motivated?

HOLLY: One of the ironic aspects of writing (which is a solitary activity, for the most part) is that reaching out to others for feedback and support can help re-invigorate your idea/essay/story/play/etc. Collaborating with other writers is very indulgent to me because I get more ideas about possible directions to take my storylines or unique ways to develop my characters.

That said, I think it’s a good strategy to put some projects aside if you need a mental/emotional break from them. Unless you have a pressing deadline about your project, then putting it on ice for a while might allow you to explore other projects. You can always come back to it in the future and maybe you’ll have a fresh perspective and some new ideas that will add texture to the project.

BDWN: You do a lot of sessions on creativity, which is another important element for writers to tap into. So what do you say to those folks who say “I want to write, but I don’t have any ideas”?

HOLLY: I’m a big believer in creativity exercises to help your mind identify a specific idea and expand it. I also like the fact that you’re sort of tricking yourself into believing that the exercise is a game, so your ego is less likely to get in the way. You can take workshops that include creativity exercises and/or search for these exercises in books and on the web. I’m always amazed at how many incredible works started from these simple exercises.

Can you give us a sneak peek of what you’ll be talking about at the Write It Right conference?

HOLLY: I’ll be presenting two workshops during the conference. Hilarious Haiku is my humble attempt to combine haiku (which is normally pretty serious) with the silliness of comedy. I facilitated this workshop a few years ago and the attendees surprised themselves by writing some really funny stuff.
The other workshop I’m facilitating is called Build a Character (for your novel, short story, play, or screenplay). I love to start with a clean slate, so I’ll encourage attendees to create a character from scratch. We’ll then develop that character through a series of thought-provoking exercises. There’s also a surprising plot twist in the workshop itself!

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