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Surrender Your Weapons


Surrender Your Weapons is now available for sale at Life in 10 Minutes and Chop Suey Books.


“By sharing her stories, truths and wisdom, Valley Haggard’s new book Surrender Your Weapons: Writing to Heal, compels us to put our own stories down on paper. Addictively readable, the book is partly instructional, wholly autobiographical and generously inspirational. I will reread this book when I need a simultaneous hug and kick in the rear as a writer. I will recommend it to every writer I know. Valley Haggard’s book is the coolest, edgiest and most encouraging writing book I’ve had the honor of reading.”

Michele Young-Stone, author of Lost in the Beehive, Above Us Only Sky and The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors

“Whether you write for therapy, literary prestige, fun, or a combination, you can find something in Valley Haggard’s Surrender Your Weapons to catalyze your process. Haggard’s writing will make you laugh out loud, jump up and down in joy and in terror, then turn to your own writing via both overt and covert prompts. Students, individual writers, and teachers will love this book as it offers examples of brave story telling, brilliant moments of writing advice, and sage reflection on the process. I cannot wait to run this through my writing courses next year. Every writer, every teacher of writing, every human needs this book.”

Dr. Cindy Cunningham, Dpt. Chair of English and Director of Literary Arts at Appomattox Regional Governor's School

"Valley Haggard writes her heart out (and back in!) as she leads the way to help us heal ourselves in her new book. Surrender Your Weapons is part memoir, part writing guide and all the vulnerable generous genius healing spirit Valley embodies on the page. She has distilled her fierce generosity as a teacher between the pages. My clients will see themselves and heal themselves as they read this book."

Camille Adams, LPC, Psychotherapist

“Part memoir, and part how-to, Surrender Your Weapons is like a hug from an encouraging best friend who believes in you wholeheartedly and wants you to live your best, most authentic, most creative life now. For anyone who knows the words are inside (or hopes they are) and needs some help guiding them towards the light -- this is your book…”

Anne Soffee, author of Snake Hips: Belly Dancing and How I Found True Love and Nerd Girl Rocks Paradise City

Of all the lessons I’ve needed to learn as a writer and a human being, Surrender Your Weapons  resurfaces most. Weapons take many forms and manifestations, many of which we wield against ourselves. Judgment, comparison, impossible expectations, perfectionism, doubt, insecurity, destructive behavior, self-sabotage. Surrender Your Weapons began as the first rule of The Halfway House and grew until it became a book all its own. When we surrender our weapons, our true writing and our true selves begin to emerge in our lives and on the page in a way that is brave, beautiful and true.

Surrender Your Weapons is a marriage of selections from my own memoir and a guide for writing, exploring themes and threads that have emerged classes, workshops and retreats.

It is a guide for writing your story while showing you how I wrote mine. I hope that you, like me, find healing along the way. 

When Our Writing Begins

After my mother saw me swinging a chain on the playground to protect myself from the kids who threatened to beat me upside the head, she moved me to another elementary school across town. I carried a bear-handled knife traveling with my girlfriend across Eastern Europe alone. I’ve scratched, bitten, and hit when I thought I had to. But my best defense has always been my tongue. Sharp, cutting, and deadly words that know where to strike.

For several years I was involved in an online sado-masochistic affair. Words were the currency of our weapons and whips. The only way I could begin to repair the psychic damage done was to step out of the ring altogether. I could no longer win or lose. I had to surrender. 

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The Halfway House For Writers

A Life In Ten Minutes Handbook


If you are confident, joyful and productive in your writing life, if you understand your place in the world of writing, if you are happy and carefree when you think of what you have written and what you still want to write, this handbook is not for you.

If you have struggled with insecurity, existential angst, being stuck and feeling unworthy; if you have wrestled with writing that is too crazy, too boring, too shameful, unorganized, or just plain sucks, read on.

This handbook is for writers who are afraid to begin and writers who have begun but are afraid to continue.

This handbook is for anyone haunted by writing, writers who long to write but fear it, writers who are afraid to call themselves writers.

This handbook is the culmination of recurring themes and threads that have arisen in my writing classes again and again and the process by which my students and I have begun to recover from our crippling, debilitating and false beliefs.

This handbook is a guide to rehabilitation for wounded writers.


The Rules of the Halfway House

1. Surrender your weapons. We have abused and belittled ourselves for too long. We have been our own worst enemies, our own worst critics, the harshest arbiters on Judgment Day. We have shot down our fledgling works of art in infant form, before they’ve had the chance to take their first breath. The first rule of the Halfway House is to arrest our masochistic tendencies and let our work be what it is.


2. Seek shelter. Create structure. Build a frame to contain the vibrant, messy paint of your words. Erect a property line within which the wild animals of your writing can run without being slammed into by cars on the highway. Whether your structure is a timer at your desk, a writing class, a writing group or an accountability partner it helps to have structure within which to create.

As much as you may want to consider yourself a free spirit who writes with wild abandon, the truth is you need  structure. Otherwise your writing will blob forth like an amoeba, Jello, the inside of the body without any skin. Or, it will fail to launch at all. We need a vessel to pour our words into. Create a vessel.

Ten minutes at a time is that vessel for me. It holds the beginning of something big or the entirety of something small. It’s a poem or a letter, the jumble of thoughts clogging up the brain like leaves and sticks and twigs in a gutter. Ideas lurking in the back of the mind or buried in the heart. The overwhelm of shoulds and to-do lists that could stop me before I even get started. But I do, because ten minutes gives them a place to sit while I move on, discovering what lurks beneath.

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Nine Lives

A Life In Ten Minutes Anthology


Ten minutes is enough time to be born, get married, become a drunk, apologize in a grocery store, hate a vacation, watch the football team cry at lunch, fall in love with someone you shouldn’t, teach a Barbie yoga, find an unpaid internship in Syria, air your dirty laundry, die in a men’s halfway house in Mississippi, or change the course of your life forever. 

9 Lives: A Life in 10 Minutes Anthology is a collection of 148 creative nonfiction pieces written ten minutes at a time by 121 professional authors and beginning writers from all over the world. Ten minutes is enough time to write something strange and beautiful and true without editing the strangeness and beauty and truth out of it. Each individual story is a stand-alone piece, but read them together and advance through the ages and stages of life, from birth to death, from our first breath to our last.


Introduction to Nine Lives

What happens when the truth slips out uncensored? When you unzip your skin and expose the tender, wildly beating heart beneath? When you paint a self portrait with words and guts instead of brush strokes and lines? What happens when you look back on who you were and where you came from and let it pour out of your pen, 10 minutes at a time?

Life in 10 Minutes is a project designed to encourage people to share the stories from their lives whether they consider themselves “writers” or not. No PhDs, degrees, or background in literary criticism is required to sit down and write the truth for ten minutes, editing for another 10 minutes after that. The anthology you hold in your hands is the culmination of moments and lifetimes, a compilation of 148 pieces composed in flashes and bursts. Think slice of life, flash nonfiction, polaroids. Writing straight from the heart that’s not edited down to the bone.

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