Posts tagged ‘tips for effective writing’

Nov 23 2016
2

The Back Door Into Creativity

IN MEMORIAM Paul Schulkind 1955-2016. During the Great Depression, there were many “hobos” (today called “the homeless”) wandering across the country. They would often knock on the back door of a house to ask for food. One might say that it was there, rather than at the formal front door, that the ‘action’ happened, that truly meaningful interactions took place. The same can be true for your writing. Is what you want to write about…

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Nov 12 2014
2

How To Find the Pulse in Your Comatose Drafts

Guest Blogger Ellen Collins is a Center Teaching Associate.  Here she offers guidance about how to sift through all that freewriting you’ve been hanging onto without believing it would ever amount to much, to find the living heart of a new piece. Sometimes we are lucky, and we sit down to write and wonderful words and thoughts and connections flow on to the paper. Other times, not so much. We all have notebooks and journals…

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Feb 21 2014
Comments Off on Moving Past Shoulds

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
Comments Off on Getting Unstuck: Beyond Words

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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Nov 01 2013
Comments Off on Great Writers on Writing (Annie Dillard)

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
Comments Off on Great Writers on Writing (Toni Morrison)

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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Oct 04 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Barbara Kingsolver)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Barbara Kingsolver)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Barbara Kingsolver)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer’s block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.” — Barbara Kingsolver

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Sep 27 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Laurence Sterne)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Laurence Sterne)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Laurence Sterne)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “[When] the thoughts rise heavily and pass gummous through my pen… I never stand conferring with pen and ink one moment; for if a pinch of snuff or a stride or two across the room will not do the business for me — … I take a razor at once;…

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Sep 20 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Hilary Mantel)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Hilary Mantel)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Hilary Mantel)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you…

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Sep 13 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Norman Mailer)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Norman Mailer)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Norman Mailer)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “Over the years, I’ve found one rule. It is the only one I give on those occasions when I talk about writing. A simple rule. If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material….

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Sep 11 2013
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Writer’s Block (Philip Pullman)

Writer's Block (Philip Pullman)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “Writer’s block…a lot of howling nonsense would be avoided if, in every sentence containing the word WRITER, that word was taken out and the word PLUMBER substituted; and the result examined for the sense it makes. Do plumbers get plumber’s block? What would you think of a plumber who used…

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Sep 06 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (John Steinbeck)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (John Steinbeck)

Overcoming Writer's Block (John Steinbeck)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “Many years ago, I met John Steinbeck at a party in Sag Harbor, and told him that I had writer’s block. And he said something which I’ve always remembered, and which works. He said, “Pretend that you’re writing not to your editor or to an audience or to a readership,…

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Aug 30 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Orson Scott Card)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Orson Scott Card)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Orson Scott Card)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “Writer’s block is my unconscious mind telling me that something I’ve just written is either unbelievable or unimportant to me, and I solve it by going back and reinventing some part of what I’ve already written so that when I write it again, it is believable and interesting to me….

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Aug 23 2013
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Overcoming Writer’s Block (Ernest Hemmingway)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Ernest Hemmingway)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you…

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Aug 16 2013
3

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Mark Twain)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Mark Twain)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” — Mark Twain

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Aug 09 2013
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Overcoming Writer’s Block (Ray Bradbury)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Ray Bradbury)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “Now, what I’m thinking of is, people always saying “Well, what do we do about a sudden blockage in your writing? What if you have a blockage and you don’t know what to do about it?” Well, it’s obvious you’re doing the wrong thing, don’t you? In the middle of…

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Aug 02 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Anne Lamott)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Anne Lamott)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Anne Lamott)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “I encourage my students at times like these to get one page of anything written, three hundred words of memories or dreams or stream of consciousness on how much they hate writing — just for the hell of it, just to keep their fingers from becoming too arthritic, just because…

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Jul 26 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Neil Gaiman)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Neil Gaiman)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Neil Gaiman)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “Suggestions? Put it aside for a few days, or longer, do other things, try not to think about it. Then sit down and read it (printouts are best I find, but that’s just me) as if you’ve never seen it before. Start at the beginning. Scribble on the manuscript as…

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Jul 19 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Maya Angelou)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Maya Angelou)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Maya Angelou)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the…

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Jul 12 2013
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A Writer’s First Audience

This week our guest blogger, Judy Halldorson, shares a very useful tip that avoids worries and bolsters self-confidence. I have tried various ways to help myself as I try to upgrade my writing efforts.  Taking Elizabeth’s courses was one way.  Reading a fair number of books was another.  And now I am teaching myself certain techniques from Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich.  He is really quite a wonderful teacher and gives several excerpts from…

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May 10 2013
1

Advice To Fledgling Writers: You’re Not Wasting Time

This series of blogs, “Advice to Fledgling Writers,” is excerpted from the book, Writing the Wave: Inspired Rides for Aspiring Writers by Elizabeth Ayres.  Here, a typical student expresses a common fear and Elizabeth responds. Writing the Wave is also an online writing class. TS: “I’ve always loved to write, to keep journals, to make up stories and poems, but I never seem to get anywhere. I feel like I’m wasting my time, goofing around, pretending…

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May 03 2013
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Discovering Point of View

In this excerpt from a letter to a student in her online class Writing for Children, Helena explains issues of voice and discovery that are applicable to adult fiction-writing as well as children’s writing. There is certainly a story to be discovered here, but remember, the point of view has to be the young people, not the adult’s view of the young people.  This is a shift slowly made in understanding and in actually experiencing…

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Mar 22 2013
Comments Off on Notes Towards Revision

Notes Towards Revision

When I discovered Haiku, particularly the Japanese poet, Basho’s, work, I sensed that I’d found an important key with which to approach revision. Words have to work hard in writing, so they have to, each one, mean something.  Like pieces of supportive architecture, words have to construct writing. One word can often do the job of three, and likely do it more potently.  In a Haiku every word is jam-packed with effect. What if I…

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Mar 08 2013
4

Finding an Authentic, True Voice: One Writer’s Story

This week our guest blogger, Karen Karper Fredette, describes the risks — and rewards — of discovering a true and authentic voice. The need to write was hounding me but whenever I tried, my thoughts flitted in fifty odd directions, and whatever I produced was scattered and shallow.  A habit of concealing my feelings, my fears, and my weaknesses kept me spinning my wheels, writing only superficial events. I seldom wrote directly of myself or…

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Dec 07 2012
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Inspiration Is Everywhere

Inspiration Is Everywhere

“I don’t have any ideas.” “My mind is a blank.” I can’t think of anything to write about.” It seems as if almost everyone I’ve worked with has said something like this. Okay, I’ve said it, too. But here is the world, available to us in all kinds of dimensions, scales, emotions, colors, activities, histories and possibilities — and we can’t think of anything? A long time ago, my economics professor held up a book…

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Nov 30 2012
Comments Off on A Catchy New Writing Prompt

A Catchy New Writing Prompt

Scrabble was a popular game in our house when I was growing up.  My goal was to use all the tiles in a single word.  I don’t remember that ever happening, but how I loved moving those tiles around to create as many words as I could. This love is the inspiration for this writing prompt using letter tiles.  You can either raid your Scrabble game, or you can purchase bags of letter tiles in…

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Nov 23 2012
Comments Off on Procrastination: How To Write Around It

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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Nov 16 2012
Comments Off on How To Mine Irritations for Writer’s Gold

How To Mine Irritations for Writer’s Gold

I’m a retired professor of teacher education (Weber State University, Ogden, Utah). Overhearing people’s cell phone conversations often annoys me. I know I’m not alone: in fact, that annoyance is Chapter One of the recent book, Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us by Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman. Yet these “half-alogues,” as that book terms them, don’t have to be irritating and can actually be interesting, even fascinating, as material for writers. I would…

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Nov 09 2012
Comments Off on Writing the Truth That Must Be Revealed

Writing the Truth That Must Be Revealed

“I can’t think of anything; I certainly can’t think of that!” Has something like that ever silently passed through your mind, perhaps when you were searching for something to write? Of course, it has. We all have thoughts that seem inappropriate and that we’re not going to expose. When images and ideas flash through our minds, we censor them. Either they are just not interesting or impressive enough for our writing, or they are somehow…

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Oct 12 2012
2

A Writer’s Voice

how to write, how to be a writer, writing prompts, writing tips

I’m taking a weaving class.  I’m learning on a small, portable loom, but it has all the necessary pieces of a traditional loom, and it’s great fun to learn an entirely new language, with words like “heddle” and “thrum” and “shed” and “apron” and “shuttle.” I’m learning how to “warp the loom:” to set up the long threads that provide the structural integrity of woven fabric.  It’s extremely complicated, requiring a lot of math and…

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Oct 05 2012
2

Writing Prompts Help

A recent prompt from the Center’s e-mail newsletter led me to a truly serendipitous experience.  As a retiree approaching my 75th birthday, I look around at other folks my age and see many who just stop ‘living’ when they stop working. Here’s the prompt you shared, courtesy Poets & Writer’s:  Pick a poetry book off of your shelf and open it to any page. Read the poem you’ve opened to, then write one of your…

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Sep 07 2012
3

Weaving Words

the words teach writers how to write

I’m taking a weaving class, and my teacher said something the other day I found illuminating for the writer’s life. She said that she never plans a project.  Instead, she goes into the store to see which yarns call out, “Take me home.”  Then she sits with them at home and lets them speak to her as she asks questions of them.  Are you soft and yielding, needing to be made into an airy shawl…

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Aug 31 2012
Comments Off on Writers Are What They Read

Writers Are What They Read

This is no new insight, but it does bear repeating:  if you aspire to write well, you must fill your mind with the very best writing. Nutrition provides a good metaphor.  If you want to be healthy, you must eat well.  You must put into your body only the best food. If you want your mind and imagination to remain healthy, you must feed it with the best writing you can find.  This is especially…

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