Posts tagged ‘how to be a writer’

Nov 30 2016
2

A Writer’s “Four Noble Truths”

I was on a retreat recently, hosted by the Friends of Silence, which was founded by the writer Nan Merrill. Nan passed away a few years ago, and her legacy — the Friends of Silence newsletter — has been inherited by residents of the Rolling Ridge Retreat Center. As a tribute to Nan, Rolling Ridge has built a cabin to house her library, and in that library one can sit in Nan’s rocking chair, and…

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Nov 27 2016
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Creativity and the Evolutionary Impulse

Creativity and the Evolutionary Impulse

Since its emergence 13.7 billion years ago, the Universe has been a creative journey into ‘something more.’  From hydrogen and helium we get complex elements.  From a supernova explosion we get our sun and solar system.  From the alembic of Earth’s oceans we get one-celled organisms, worms, vertebrates, reptiles, mammals.  From seaweed we get ferns and oaks.  This is the evolutionary impulse, individuals sharing their characteristic energies in always-greater and more complex unions. The characteristic…

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Nov 20 2016
4

Nature Inspires the Imagination

For most of my life, nature has fueled my imagination.  When I am stuck inside for too long, I get cranky.   In school I angled for the seat near the window, and 365 nights a year I sleep next to an open window.  When I cannot be outside, I bring the outside in:  jars of sand, bowls of rocks, winter twigs arranged in a pitcher. Therefore, it is no accident that when I write, the…

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Nov 13 2016
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Imagination: The Writer’s Call

There is a mystery about sitting down to write, an alternate awareness, of a world where imagination and memory, and a mysterious knowing merge, indistinguishable.  A palette of our experience, and perhaps, if Carl Jung is right, the experience of everyone who’s ever lived. How did I know, for instance, when I wrote my story, “The Call of the Dove” (Cricket Magazine, volume 21, number 9, May 1994) how it felt to be a young…

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Oct 30 2016
12

Is Creative Writing Your Destiny?

Is Creative Writing Your Destiny?

So many doubts assail the writer as she struggles to put fleeting thoughts into memorable words.  He’s tempted to give up, because it’s hard.  There’s little recognition and even less remuneration.  The question keeps coming back:  “Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing?” The great priest-scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote beautifully about the process of becoming “something more.”  What he said about the Universe moving towards its Omega Point – its moment…

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Oct 04 2014
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On Teaching Writing

I teach writing and I also teach painting. Sometimes I teach them together. Recently, I taught a weekend workshop at Gallery North, in Setauket, Long Island. There were five of us: four students and me. We painted flowers, freesia and roses, then wrote, describing the flowers. I worked along with the other four. It was a pleasure for me but also a way to make myself vulnerable while holding the hands of my students while…

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Feb 21 2014
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Moving Past Shoulds

In April 2013, I was interviewed by writer Julie Leuk for an article called “Overcoming a Writer’s Identity Crisis: Find Your Writing Joy Again,” published in Wow! Women On Writing.  I incorporated Julie’s questions into an evaluative segment of my Writer’s Eye online writing class, and I’m publishing Michele Burnett’s answers because I thought they were particularly illuminating.  Here Michele answers this question, originally put to me:  “What suggestions do you have to help writers…

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Feb 14 2014
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Getting Unstuck: Beyond Words

In April 2013, I was interviewed by writer Julie Leuk for an article called “Overcoming a Writer’s Identity Crisis: Find Your Writing Joy Again,” published in Wow! Women On Writing.  I incorporated Julie’s questions into an evaluative segment of my Writer’s Eye online writing class, and I’m publishing Michele Burnett’s answers because I thought they were particularly illuminating.  Here Michele answers this question, originally put to me:  “What kind of practical suggestions do you have…

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Feb 07 2014
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Overcoming Fear in Your Writing Practice

In April 2013, I was interviewed by writer Julie Leuk for an article called “Overcoming a Writer’s Identity Crisis: Find Your Writing Joy Again,” published in Wow! Women On Writing.  I incorporated Julie’s questions into an evaluative segment of my Writer’s Eye online writing class, and I’m publishing Michele Burnett’s answers because I thought they were particularly illuminating.  Here Michele answers this question, originally put to me:  “You have started a creative writing center to…

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Nov 08 2013
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Great Writers on Writing (Cyril Connolly)

Elizabeth suggests:  “In this series, you’re asked to look at what master wordsmiths have to say about the activity which is central to their lives.  See if you can invite their passion into your writing life.  Try copying out the quote onto an index card and pasting it above your desk.  Contemplate it, live with it, noddle it around in your head.  Journal about it.  Try to come up with one concrete way to incorporate…

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Nov 01 2013
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Great Writers on Writing (Annie Dillard)

Elizabeth suggests:  “In this series, you’re asked to look at what master wordsmiths have to say about the activity which is central to their lives.  See if you can invite their passion into your writing life.  Try copying out the quote onto an index card and pasting it above your desk.  Contemplate it, live with it, noddle it around in your head.  Journal about it.  Try to come up with one concrete way to incorporate…

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Oct 25 2013
1

Great Writers on Writing (Franz Kafka)

Elizabeth suggests:  “In this series, you’re asked to look at what master wordsmiths have to say about the activity which is central to their lives.  See if you can invite their passion into your writing life.  Try copying out the quote onto an index card and pasting it above your desk.  Contemplate it, live with it, noddle it around in your head.  Journal about it.  Try to come up with one concrete way to incorporate…

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Oct 18 2013
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Great Writers on Writing (Toni Morrison)

Elizabeth suggests:  “In this series, you’re asked to look at what master wordsmiths have to say about the activity which is central to their lives.  See if you can invite their passion into your writing life.  Try copying out the quote onto an index card and pasting it above your desk.  Contemplate it, live with it, noddle it around in your head.  Journal about it.  Try to come up with one concrete way to incorporate…

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Jul 05 2013
1

Memoir Writing: the Deep Truth

Recently, the English writer Hilary Mantel wrote this about memoirs: “It’s hard for beginners to accept that unmediated truth often sounds unlikely and unconvincing.  If other people are to care about your life, art must intervene.  The writer has to negotiate with her memories, and with her reader, and find a way, without interrupting the flow, to caution that this cannot be a true record: this is a version, seen from a single viewpoint.  But…

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Apr 05 2013
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A Writer’s Chrysalis

Recently, I was interviewed by writer Julie Leuk for an article she’s working on about how a writer handles a changing identity within her or his writing practice.  Here’s her first question and my answer. JL: You have started a creative writing center to help writers transform themselves creatively. The key word here is transforming, which implies change. For some people this is scary. How do you help people move past the fear of change…

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Feb 22 2013
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Solitude in the Writing Life

With the popularity of social media — 10 million people networking 24/7 on Facebook — and given the cultural bias in favor of extroversion, it’s difficult for the writer to claim for herself or himself the one thing without which nothing can be written:  solitude. For that reason, I’ve provided a set of inspiring quotations on the value of solitude for the writing life.  You can pin these up on the closed door of your…

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Jan 18 2013
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Failure: A Writer’s Constant Companion

One of the laments I hear often from my students is that the words they’ve poured out onto the page seem shabby imitations of the story or poem or essay they really want to create.  For that reason, they tear up their papers and toss them in the wastebasket, considering themselves failures and giving up on the whole dream of becoming a writer. That experience — of being unable to capture the shimmering vision —…

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Dec 14 2012
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The Writer You Are Becoming

The Writer You Are Becoming

The other day I was wandering around nearby Leonardtown, after my appointment at the dentist’s and before the bookstore opened.  In the yarn store there was this woman sitting in front of a loom, doing mysterious things with her hands and feet that transformed stiff, straight rows of brightly-colored thread into soft billows of patterned fabric.  The me that has always been a weaver said, “I’ve always wanted to learn how to weave,” and I…

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Nov 23 2012
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Procrastination: How To Write Around It

A famous quote most writers can relate to is Dorothy Parker’s: “I hate writing, but love having written.”   This quote might mean different things to different people, but to me it speaks to one thing above all else: procrastination. Without a doubt, my biggest weakness as a writer is my penchant for procrastination.  I’ve been blessed with the ability to never really have true writer’s block.  I’ve always been able to think of ideas and…

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Oct 19 2012
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The Pains of Publication

Recently I’ve had two pieces accepted for publication — I’ve mentioned these in other blogs.  (See September 14th and September 21st.) The word ‘publish’ means ‘to make public.’  Because we live in such a results-oriented culture, a writer can be seduced into thinking that the act of making the work public is the important thing, the critical thing, the thing without which a writer can’t go on, and the frustrations of not being able to…

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