Posts tagged ‘writing practice’

Nov 06 2019
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4 ways a writer’s notebook is a recipe for success

4 ways a writer’s notebook is a recipe for success

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie urges you to keep a notebook of writing ideas so you always have something cooking. My first graduate writing workshop opened with the professor assigning all students to obtain a journal in which we would record writing topics, lines and phrases and sensory observations of the world for future use. The task was not to master a craft tip, acquire a certain critical text, or commit to writing a formidable number of…

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Oct 16 2019
Comments Off on How revisiting old writing can inspire new ideas

How revisiting old writing can inspire new ideas

How revisiting old writing can inspire new ideas

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie suggests a little time travel to light your way out of a writing rut—and offers a great exercise as guidance. Sometimes the path to a new, exciting writing project leads back through a well-worn path. Writers, when you’re stuck in a rut and it seems like you’re writing the same story over and over—or worse, you aren’t writing at all—try going backwards instead of forwards by blowing the dust off some old…

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Oct 09 2019
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How to get back on the writing ride

How to get back on the writing ride

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie shares a metaphor to get writers back in the saddle. I once took a writing class with an avid equestrian who offered a riding metaphor for every writing exercise. I loved the way she related her two passions to each other, both of which are creative art forms that require science to build skill. I’m a writer, not a rider or scientist, but that won’t stop me from passing along some of…

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Sep 18 2019
Comments Off on How (and how not) to compare yourself to other writers

How (and how not) to compare yourself to other writers

How (and how not) to compare yourself to other writers

We all do it. We all compare ourselves to the people who are good at what we want to be good at, right? Sometimes such comparisons motivate us. Other times, they erode confidence and can lead to chronic negativity and even self-sabotage. Here are four things you need to know to make the right kinds of comparisons, the ones that will light a fire under you to write more and better:

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Jul 17 2019
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Writers, set micro goals for major progress

Writers, set micro goals for major progress

I want to finally write my memoir. I want to finish my novel. I want to learn how to write poetry. I have this great idea for a children’s book… It’s good to have goals. As writers, we often focus on the big picture, but let’s face it: the big picture can sometimes feel too big to achieve. So what if we made smaller goals—not giving up on the bigger ones, but breaking them down…

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Jun 19 2019
Comments Off on How to make writing prompts work for you

How to make writing prompts work for you

How to make writing prompts work for you

  Writers either love or loathe prompts; there seems to be no in-between. Those of us who love them use them to focus, or to explore, or just to write when we are stuck on another project or feel uninspired. Those of us who loathe them feel constrained by their specificity, or think there are no original prompts out there, or just don’t want to be “told” what to write about. At the Center, we…

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May 08 2019
Comments Off on Make the absolute most of your writing time

Make the absolute most of your writing time

Make the absolute most of your writing time

You did the hard part already. You shuffled things around in your schedule, prioritizing what needed prioritizing and letting go of what didn’t. You analyzed your “free time” and figured out when and how and where you might fit in a good writing session instead of a Netflix binge, and you created a space in your home specifically for writing, complete with good lighting and your favorite pen. You are ready to go. Now, what…

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Apr 17 2019
Comments Off on Dive into writing readiness with these 5 tips

Dive into writing readiness with these 5 tips

Dive into writing readiness with these 5 tips

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie offers some suggestions to set yourself up for success before you even start writing—especially if you’re writing about tough topics. Writing readiness is more than having a dedicated writing space and practice. Especially in the case of writing harder stories or traumas, it’s important to prepare mentally and emotionally for putting memories into words. If you are suiting up for a deep dive into rough waters—or even just a marathon laptop session—here…

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Apr 10 2019
Comments Off on 7 writing tips for moving from rut to routine

7 writing tips for moving from rut to routine

7 writing tips for moving from rut to routine

Adapted from a 2015 Tips for Beginning Writers post on the benefits and logistics of establishing a writing routine, if you’ve struggled to do so. Maybe you aren’t a routine kind of person. Some of us are; some of us aren’t. But I’m guessing that if you’re reading a blog post about writing tips, you’re open to suggestion. Because there are precious few writers out there who can subsist solely from practicing their craft, most…

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Feb 06 2019
Comments Off on Write more and better by embracing quiet

Write more and better by embracing quiet

Write more and better by embracing quiet

Adapted from a 2017 Center post about resisting distractions that keep us from the page, this post distills those resistance tips into an ethos that will yield more and better words: you have to be alone sometimes to write. Many writers are all about developing a community around the practice of writing. At the Center, we certainly love our community. But let’s face it, the writing itself doesn’t happen when you’re in a (physical or…

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Jan 16 2019
Comments Off on When to write on vs. when to write later

When to write on vs. when to write later

When to write on vs. when to write later

Sometimes it might seem like the best writing advice you’ve ever heard conflicts with other advice that also makes sense. Step away and gain some perspective sounds like a wonderful tip…unless what you really need to do is keep pushing yourself and finish that draft! If you’re wondering how to tell when you should do which—write on or write later—this post offers some insight. First, remember that all writers have their own process. You are…

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Nov 21 2018
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Helena Writes #5: On writers’ groups

Helena Writes #5: On writers' groups

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 fifth post, Helena reflects on her experiences in writers’ groups…

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

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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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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May 23 2018
Comments Off on 4 workout tips to strengthen writing muscles

4 workout tips to strengthen writing muscles

4 workout tips to strengthen writing muscles

Feeling motivated to make some writing gains but overwhelmed and not sure where to start? Shawna Ayoub Ainslie shares some workout advice that translates easily to overcoming challenges on the page. When you want to develop any skill, you practice it. When I learned to play basketball, I started with dribbling and passing drills that improved my hand-eye coordination and in-game reflexes. When I learned to swim, I practiced floating. When I learned to write…

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Feb 21 2018
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4 ways to de-stress your writing practice

4 ways to de-stress your writing practice

I promise, I won’t insist that writing is without stress and that you’re somehow doing it wrong if you aren’t having fun 100% of the time. Writing should be fun, of course. Getting down the last scene of a suspenseful story or finally finding the right metaphor for a childhood experience you’ve been trying to accurately show on the page are feel-good moments in a regular writing practice. But nothing gold can stay, writers. Inevitably,…

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Sep 10 2015
Comments Off on Tips for Beginning Writers: Developing a writing routine

Tips for Beginning Writers: Developing a writing routine

Tips for Beginning Writers: Developing a writing routine

Maybe you aren’t a routine kind of person. Some of us are; some of us aren’t. But I’m guessing that if you’re reading a blog post about writing tips, you’re open to suggestion. Because there are precious few writers out there who can subsist solely from practicing their craft, most of us tend to fit writing in where we can, between paying jobs, managing households, raising children, and engaging within our communities. As such, don’t…

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Jul 30 2015
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Not writing? Maybe it’s a matter of energy, not time

Not writing? Maybe it's a matter of energy, not time

I had what was for me a major realization the other day and couldn’t think of a better place to share and reflect on it than here at the Center’s blog. I’ve had an incredibly busy summer. Appointments, work, teaching, my child starting daycare, fun things, stressful things—June and July have been packed to the brim. Before you begin to think that this post won’t be anything more than a complaint about not having time…

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Oct 29 2014
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Writing through resistance: Tips for getting to the page and staying there

The image I have set as the cover on my Facebook profile bears this quote: “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.” The quote is unattributed so I don’t know what its author meant by “Resistance,” but I know what it means to me….

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