Nov 14 2018
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Build confidence as a writer in 5 steps

Build confidence as a writer in 5 steps

I write, but I don’t feel like a writer. I hear this from beginning and blocked writers all the time, and the issue isn’t talent or commitment or energy. The issue is confidence. Do you feel insecure in your writing, like maybe you just aren’t cut out for it? Do you feel like it’s something you enjoy doing and want to do more, but you can’t justify the time spent on it, either because it…

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Nov 08 2018
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Write now, worry later! Avoiding the path of self-censorship

Write now, worry later! Avoiding the path of self-censorship

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie offers some critical advice against censoring our work in our early drafts. “What parts should I leave out?” a student asked regarding the memoir she’d begun. “Why are you asking?” “Well,” she said. “There are some things I don’t want my kids to know.” I nodded in understanding. Self-censorship is a common theme in all writing, not just trauma-based narratives. Moving our stories from our minds to the physical world can leave…

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Nov 01 2018
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Letter from the director, November 2018

Letter from the director, November 2018

You can’t tell whether this leaf is still attached to a tree or has drifted to the soon-frozen ground, but you can see the intricate beauty of its veins, the damage its papery skin has endured, the bold color, the fragility, the persistence…all these competing forces contained in one iconic seasonal image-object. So. Look close. Do you see life or death? What do you think about when you look at this image? Write about it.

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Oct 25 2018
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Helena Writes #4: On forcing the arc

Helena Writes #4: On forcing the arc

Helena Clare Pittman, one of the Center’s most dedicated teachers (Writing for Children and Midwifing a Small-Scale Memoir), has written, painted, and taught her entire life. In a new blog series called Helena Writes, she shares a lifetime of wisdom, one pearl at a time. Learn more about Helena through the Center’s Teacher Feature, her reflection on teaching writing, and her artist’s website. In her fourth post, Helena tells of how her story Counting Jennie came into…

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Oct 17 2018
Comments Off on Over-write first for a better final draft

Over-write first for a better final draft

Over-write first for a better final draft

You’ve heard the age-old writing advice “show, don’t tell,” right? We try to incorporate as many sensory details as we can, and to rely on imagery as much as simple, declarative sentences. But no matter what kind of prose you’re writing, you can turn ordinary action, like making a sandwich, into a showing scene by first over-writing it. You might be asking, what do you mean, over-write? Aren’t I supposed to use word economy, cut…

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Oct 10 2018
Comments Off on Respect the process to meet your writing goals

Respect the process to meet your writing goals

Respect the process to meet your writing goals

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie offers an exercise to integrate into your writing practice, one that’s as much about recognizing where you’ve been as it is about planning where you’re going. Writer Brenda Ueland, in her book If You Want to Write, describes a writing practice as coming to the page and remaining with it whether or not writing happens. Translation: a true writer shows up even when the words don’t. Ueland adds that, with consistent showing up, the…

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Oct 01 2018
Comments Off on Letter from the director, October 2018

Letter from the director, October 2018

Letter from the director, October 2018

Ah, a country road in the fall. Is this a road in, or a road out? What is it leading to or away from? What is that old fence holding in or keeping out? What do you see around the bend? What do you hear, smell, taste, feel? What do you think about when you look at this image? Write about it.

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Sep 26 2018
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Helena Writes #3: On a writer’s persistence

Helena Writes #3: On a writer's persistence

Helena Clare Pittman, one of the Center’s most dedicated teachers (Writing for Children and Midwifing a Small-Scale Memoir), has written, painted, and taught her entire life. In a new blog series called Helena Writes, she shares a lifetime of wisdom, one pearl at a time. Learn more about Helena through the Center’s Teacher Feature, her reflection on teaching writing, and her artist’s website. In her third post, Helena tells of the persistence required for writers…

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Sep 19 2018
Comments Off on How to write like no one is watching

How to write like no one is watching

How to write like no one is watching

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie flips the old adage about cutting loose on the dance floor to offer advice to writers about keeping rhythm on the page. It was the night of our local Pride festival that I, for the first time, danced like no one was watching. I’ve heard the adage plenty, but I am a self-conscious soul who has long battled with letting go enough to have fun. That night, I saw someone dancing who…

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Sep 12 2018
Comments Off on Writers, revise or edit? How and when to do both

Writers, revise or edit? How and when to do both

Writers, revise or edit? How and when to do both

You’ve written something that really excites you. After the initial adrenaline rush of creative energy subsides, you can see the writing has, well, issues. You were rushing, so there are misspellings. You know in your head that this character is good and that one is villainous, but you aren’t sure it’s coming across that way. And this flashback, does it make sense at the beginning or near the middle of your story or chapter? And…

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