Posts tagged ‘writing advice’

Jul 18 2017
0

Writing is carpentry! Must-read Granta post by Natasha Pulley

Writing is carpentry! Must-read Granta post by Natasha Pulley

I came across a post on Granta called “The Myth of the Creative Genius” and it so encapsulates how I feel about writing–not to mention, the Center’s philosophy about writing–that I had to share it here. Author Natasha Pulley writes: It’s tempting to feel like writers have some sort of special, unique connection to a well of creativity – everyone else can look in and make a wish, but writers go down on the chain…

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Aug 28 2015
Comments Off on Tips for Beginning Writers: Knowing the literary market

Tips for Beginning Writers: Knowing the literary market

Tips for Beginning Writers: Knowing the literary market

The web is rife with articles of the “tips for writers” variety. I’ve written them, and I regularly read them. Sometimes, they all start to sound alike. It’s not that it isn’t good advice. I tried to give good advice in this post for the Center last fall, too—the first post I ever wrote for the Center blog. But after a while, “read widely” and “revise often” can start to sound like mere buzz words—especially…

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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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Nov 06 2014
2

Fitting in: Is this a poem, story, or essay?

Fitting in: Is this a poem, story, or essay?

Lately I find myself writing things that are not poems. I’ve always considered myself a poet first and foremost, and a year or two ago, it would have been unheard of for me to sit down to write in any other genre. It didn’t even cross my mind. I thought in poems. Then my lines started growing longer. I started reading more poems in prose. Then I wrote a short story. And another. Then I…

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Oct 04 2014
Comments Off on On Teaching Writing

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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Aug 29 2014
Comments Off on John Gardner on Writing

John Gardner on Writing

This series of wisdom-quotes on writing and the writing life is taken from the classic, On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner and Raymond Carver. Elizabeth Ayres laments the constant use of the word “he” to refer to writers, as if we were all men, but the advice is sound nonetheless. “What the best fiction does is make powerful affirmations of familiar truths…the trivial fiction which times filters out is that which either makes wrong…

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Aug 25 2014
2

John Gardner on Writing

This series of wisdom-quotes on writing and the writing life is taken from the classic, On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner and Raymond Carver. Elizabeth Ayres laments the constant use of the word “he” to refer to writers, as if we were all men, but the advice is sound nonetheless. “As every writer knows… there is something mysterious about the writer’s ability, on any given day, to write. When the juices are flowing, or…

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Aug 16 2014
Comments Off on John Gardner on Writing

John Gardner on Writing

This series of wisdom-quotes on writing and the writing life is taken from the classic, On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner and Raymond Carver. Elizabeth Ayres laments the constant use of the word “he” to refer to writers, as if we were all men, but the advice is sound nonetheless. “The true artist plays mad with his soul, labors at the very lip of the volcano, but remembers and clings to his purpose, which…

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Aug 01 2014
Comments Off on Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

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Jul 25 2014
2

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

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Jul 18 2014
Comments Off on Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

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Jul 11 2014
Comments Off on Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

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Jul 04 2014
Comments Off on Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

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Jun 27 2014
Comments Off on Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

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Jun 20 2014
Comments Off on Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

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Jun 13 2014
Comments Off on Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

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Jun 06 2014
Comments Off on Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

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May 30 2014
Comments Off on Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

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May 23 2014
Comments Off on Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

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May 16 2014
Comments Off on Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

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May 09 2014
Comments Off on Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

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May 02 2014
Comments Off on Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

Read More »
Apr 25 2014
Comments Off on Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Anne Lamott: Advice to Aspiring Writers

In this series we look at quotations from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. You’ll find a new post here every week, and a great way to take advantage of the series would be to copy the post — by hand, so it sinks into your brain — onto an index card and pin it on your mirror so you can consult it in the morning while getting dressed. …

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Apr 18 2014
Comments Off on Finding God at the Tip of Your Pen: Preparing the Way

Finding God at the Tip of Your Pen: Preparing the Way

When I was ten years old I started writing my autobiography.  I wrote it from the point of view of an old woman looking back on her life.  She was a nun, this older woman, and she wanted to tell her readers the story of how she had become a Bride of Christ. I finished this autobiography a few months ago, at age 62.  It’s called Home After Exile: A Spiritual Odyssey, and at the…

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Apr 11 2014
Comments Off on Annie Dillard on the Writing Life

Annie Dillard on the Writing Life

In this series we’re looking at a few inspiring quotations taken from Annie Dillard’s marvelous book, The Writing Life. “It should surprise no one that the life of the writer–such as it is–is colorless to the point of sensory deprivation. Many writers do little else but sit in small rooms recalling the real world. This explains why so many books describe the author’s childhood. A writer’s childhood may well have been the occasion of his…

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Apr 04 2014
Comments Off on Annie Dillard on the Writing Life

Annie Dillard on the Writing Life

In this series we’re looking at a few inspiring quotations taken from Annie Dillard’s marvelous book, The Writing Life. “There is neither a proportional relationship, nor an inverse one, between a writer’s estimation of a work in progress & its actual quality. The feeling that the work is magnificent, & the feeling that it is abominable, are both mosquitoes to be repelled, ignored, or killed, but not indulged.”

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Mar 28 2014
1

Annie Dillard on the Writing Life

In this series we’re looking at a few inspiring quotations taken from Annie Dillard’s marvelous book, The Writing Life. “A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch. It is a lion you cage in your study. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion…

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Mar 21 2014
Comments Off on Annie Dillard on the Writing Life

Annie Dillard on the Writing Life

In this series we’re looking at a few inspiring quotations taken from Annie Dillard’s marvelous book, The Writing Life. “Out of a human population on earth of four and a half billion, perhaps twenty people can write a book in a year. Some people lift cars, too. Some people enter week-long sled-dog races, go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, fly planes through the Arc de Triomphe. Some people feel no pain in childbirth. Some…

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Mar 14 2014
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Annie Dillard on the Writing Life

In this series we’re looking at a few inspiring quotations taken from Annie Dillard’s marvelous book, The Writing Life. “A schedule defends from chaos and whim. A net for catching days.”

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Mar 07 2014
1

Annie Dillard on the Writing Life

In this series we’re looking at a few inspiring quotations taken from Annie Dillard’s marvelous book, The Writing Life. “Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our hearts? Can the writer renew our hope for literary forms? Why are we reading if not in hope that the…

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Feb 28 2014
1

Annie Dillard on The Writing Life

In this series we’re looking at a few inspiring quotations taken from Annie Dillard’s marvelous book, The Writing Life. “One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for…

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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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Jan 31 2014
Comments Off on Doris Lessing on the Writing Life

Doris Lessing on the Writing Life

Doris Lessing was a prolific British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer. She was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. In awarding the Prize the Swedish Academy described her as “that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”. Lessing was the eleventh woman and the oldest person ever to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.  She died in November…

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Jan 24 2014
Comments Off on Doris Lessing on the Writing Life

Doris Lessing on the Writing Life

Doris Lessing was a prolific British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer. She was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. In awarding the Prize the Swedish Academy described her as “that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”. Lessing was the eleventh woman and the oldest person ever to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.  She died in November…

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Jan 17 2014
Comments Off on Doris Lessing on the Writing Life

Doris Lessing on the Writing Life

Doris Lessing was a prolific British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer. She was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. In awarding the Prize the Swedish Academy described her as “that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”. Lessing was the eleventh woman and the oldest person ever to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.  She died in November…

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Jan 10 2014
Comments Off on Doris Lessing on the Writing Life

Doris Lessing on the Writing Life

Doris Lessing was a prolific British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer. She was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. In awarding the Prize the Swedish Academy described her as “that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”. Lessing was the eleventh woman and the oldest person ever to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.  She died in November…

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Jan 03 2014
Comments Off on Doris Lessing on the Writing Life

Doris Lessing on the Writing Life

Doris Lessing was a prolific British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer. She was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. In awarding the Prize the Swedish Academy described her as “that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”. Lessing was the eleventh woman and the oldest person ever to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.  She died in November…

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Dec 27 2013
Comments Off on Great Writers on Writing (E.L. Doctorow)

Great Writers on Writing (E.L. Doctorow)

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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Dec 20 2013
Comments Off on Great Writers on Writing (Stephen King)

Great Writers on Writing (Stephen King)

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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Dec 13 2013
Comments Off on Great Writers on Writing (Anne Lamott)

Great Writers on Writing (Anne Lamott)

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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Dec 06 2013
1

Great Writers on Writing (George Eliot)

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 29 2013
Comments Off on Great Writers on Writing (Zora Neale Hurston)

Great Writers on Writing (Zora Neale Hurston)

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 22 2013
Comments Off on Great Writers on Writing (Edna Ferber)

Great Writers on Writing (Edna Ferber)

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 15 2013
Comments Off on Great Writers on Writing (William Styron)

Great Writers on Writing (William Styron)

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 08 2013
Comments Off on Great Writers on Writing (Cyril Connolly)

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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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
Comments Off on Writer’s Block (Philip Pullman)

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
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Ernest Hemmingway)

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
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Ray Bradbury)

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
Comments Off on A Writer’s First Audience

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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Jun 28 2013
Comments Off on Advice To Fledgling Writers: Fear of Being Creative

Advice To Fledgling Writers: Fear of Being Creative

 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 haven’t been writing for very long, and it’s thrilling and terrifying at the same time. Sometimes, when I’m writing, I lose track of time. I feel like Something Else is…

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Jun 21 2013
Comments Off on Advice To Fledgling Writers: Getting Started

Advice To Fledgling Writers: Getting Started

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 have lots of wonderful ideas. But they float through my head and I Don’t write them down. When I do sit down to write, all the ideas disappear! How do…

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Jun 14 2013
Comments Off on Advice To Fledgling Writers: The Inner Critic

Advice To Fledgling Writers: The Inner Critic

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 have a fierce inner critic.  What should I do about it?” Elizabeth responds: Remember that your inner-critic problem is exacerbated by a very real outer critic problem. Most people have…

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Jun 07 2013
Comments Off on Advice To Fledgling Writers: Avoiding Perfectionism

Advice To Fledgling Writers: Avoiding Perfectionism

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 have really great ideas. But as soon as I get the first sentence out, I compare it to what’s in my head, and it sounds so stupid, so primitive, so…

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May 31 2013
Comments Off on Advice to Fledgling Writers: Moving Beyond the Personal

Advice to Fledgling Writers: Moving Beyond the Personal

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 been keeping journals all my life. I like to write poetry, too, but I never show it to anyone. Lately I’ve wanted to write something a little less personal, but…

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May 24 2013
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Advice to Fledgling Writers: Discipline

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 never written before at all. I just thought it’d be fun. I need a creative outlet in my life, but I also know I need discipline.” Elizabeth responds: Discipline! When…

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May 17 2013
Comments Off on Advice to Fledgling Writers: Discouragement

Advice to Fledgling Writers: Discouragement

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 love to write, too! But when I compare what I’ve written to the books I read, I get so discouraged. I’m afraid I’ll never be that good. I guess I’m…

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Apr 26 2013
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Journal Writing

In this excerpt from a letter to a student in her online class Writing for Children, Helena explains her journal writing practice. I write in my journal every morning.  It’s something I’ve practiced for almost 35 years, is a way I collect myself, commune with myself and, frankly, God.  All my hopes and dreams, my insights, all kinds of contemplation go into that pen-tip on paper. Looking back at them is not something I ever…

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Apr 19 2013
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Moving On In Your Writing Practice

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 third question and my answer. JL: What suggestions do you have to help writers move past the self-imposed “shoulds” of their writing career, release them, so they can embrace the “coulds” of the future? EA: I think the most important suggestion I could make is…

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Apr 12 2013
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If Your Writing Needs To Change…

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 second question and my answer. JL: What kind of practical suggestions do you have to help people get “unstuck” if their current writing path isn’t satisfying for them? EA: The very first suggestion I would have is to take seriously the nudge to do something…

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Apr 05 2013
Comments Off on A Writer’s Chrysalis

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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Mar 29 2013
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What Is Communication?

If you want to write, you want to communicate, yes?  But what does that really mean? I invite you to consider the Latin root of our word “communicate,” which is “com” (with) plus “uni” (one).  The literal meaning of the word “communicate is “to be one with.”  The word “community” has the same root, and means the same thing:  “to be one with.” So when you write, there is a “being one with” that happens,…

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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 15 2013
Comments Off on The Sound Of Inspiration

The Sound Of Inspiration

In a recent post, I quoted E.B. White, who said, “All writing is communication; creative writing is communication through revelation — it is the Self escaping into the open.” I’m intrigued by this notion of writing as self-revelation, because it’s what keeps me coming back to my desk day after day.  Not because I have a message for the world, not because I have a story to tell, but because as I find the words…

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Mar 01 2013
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A Guilt-Free Writing Practice

Many of the aspiring writers I’ve worked with seem to feel guilty that they can’t keep up with all of life’s demands and still have time to write. I would like to encourage all of you to adopt an attitude beautifully expressed by Isaac Asimov in his book, Asimov Laughs Again: I was once being interviewed by Barbara Walters in three segments, all at once, though they were to be run on three separate days….

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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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Feb 15 2013
Comments Off on Unsticking Your Writing Practice

Unsticking Your Writing Practice

In the literature on creativity, four stages of the creative process have been identified.  These are:  inspiration (when you first get an idea); incubation (when the idea percolates in your unconscious); assimilation (when the original idea matures to include new and old ideas); completion (when the work is created that embodies the ideas. I use the word “idea,” which is more relevant to nonfiction writing, but of course, we could be talking about images (for…

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Feb 01 2013
Comments Off on Surprise: A Writer’s Gift to the World

Surprise: A Writer’s Gift to the World

Yesterday during my morning’s walk, I noticed a ditch along the side of the road, filled with rainwater and clotted with leaves. Dead leaves in a ditch, I thought, but then my brain registered something else:  a mighty fretwork of trees towering loftily above – or were they plunging down below? – into a sky where alabaster clouds drifted by, billowing underfoot, but no, that’s impossible, they must be drifting high above, but no, the…

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Jan 25 2013
Comments Off on A Writer’s Sacred Duty

A Writer’s Sacred Duty

One of the reasons I founded the Center for Creative Writing was to provide aspiring writers with an awareness of artistic endeavor as a sacred call, a holy vocation, a divine mission to a people starved for wisdom.  Recently I came across this quote in a book called Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet by theologian Matthew Fox. All artists have to let go of the modern world’s silly and reductionist notions that…

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Jan 18 2013
Comments Off on Failure: A Writer’s Constant Companion

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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Jan 11 2013
Comments Off on A Writer’s Homeland

A Writer’s Homeland

In his poem, “Boast of Quietness,” Jorge Luis Borges writes, “My homeland is the rhythm of a guitar, a few portraits, an old sword, the willow grove’s visible prayer as evening falls.” The writer, it seems to me, is one whose true homeland is the imagination.  And if that’s true, then whenever we’re caught up in other endeavors, we’re in exile, longing for home.  I know that’s how I feel when I’m not writing.  And…

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Jan 04 2013
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Why Do You Write?

Why Do You Write?

As the new year begins, I invite you to reflect on why you write.  And don’t be ho-hum hum-drum — put some muscle into it!  That special muscle available to the writer called “imagination.” As a warm-up, please read the following, excerpted from Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert by Terry Tempest Williams. Dearest Deb: You asked me why I write…. I write to make peace with the things I cannot control.  I write…

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