creativity wounds

Overcoming Creativity Wounds

There’s no one recipe to overcome a creativity wound, but putting a pen between your fingers and then resting it on a piece of paper is a pretty good start to finding one.

everything is connected

Writing for Connection Brings Both Hope and Fear

Do you write write according to your own internal motivations or creative impulses—with the intention to create serious art—or do you write hoping to create a bond between writer and reader?

how long to write a book

How Long Should It Take to Write a Book?

Writing a novel requires the creation of a living, breathing, fully populated world. Deities can pull off a trick like that in six days, but how long should it take to write a book?

yin yang writing

How to Stay Sane While You Publish

To some degree, we get to pick and choose our publishing and publicity tasks. Sometimes we forget this and freak out because we think we have to do it all.

In & Of Itself

You Have a Voice and It Means Something

Despite the notion that we are voiceless, the challenge of a good creative writing instructor is to teach students that they do indeed have a voice and that their voice, that all our voices in concert, have meaning.

Writing About Acts of Violence

Violence can be too sanitized, too tamed into a generic, pre-packaged mold, and so it can’t yield the kind of interesting questions or meditations readers crave, and writers must eventually confront.

Make Your Writing Anxiety Disappear By Thinking Small

Many people I know are ambitious about their writing. Ambition is not bad in and of itself. But it definitely interferes with your writing. If even before you begin a writing project, you are thinking about where you want it to be published and who, you hope, will review it, you are opening the door to anxiety.

Your Characters Don’t Have to Change to Be Compelling

When a character “change” feels beautiful, it’s because the character has confirmed what we’ve hoped or suspected all along. Maybe the character hasn’t changed at all, but rather has finally been put in a situation where her truest self can be revealed.

What You Need to Write Your First Book After Age 50  

First and foremost: Set realistic goals. Is this book going to change your life? No. After publication, you will not be a different fifty-plus-year-old person. You will be pretty similar to the person you were before, only this fifty-plus-year-old person has written a book. So ask yourself: What are you hoping to get out of the experience?

asking questions

You Can’t Get to “Once Upon a Time” Without “What If?”

Danielle Lazarin: “At every stage of my work, questions are my most essential writing tools. I use them to move through to the other side of murky. It’s only by stepping into that unknown and uncomfortable space repeatedly during my process that I can become more deliberate in the story I’m telling.”

writers and parents

What Obligations Do Writers Have to Their Parents?

There’s a very famous piece of advice from Anne Lamott that occasionally makes the rounds on social media. She says: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” This advice, especially when shared out of context, makes me cringe.

distraction as asset

How Distraction Can Be an Asset

Over a last year, a consistent theme has emerged in my discussions with writers around the country: They feel distracted. What is to be done?

emerging as a writer

What It Means to Be a Writer—and to Emerge as a Writer

There’s a term thrown around in the world of writing that I’ve never fully understood: emerging writer. To emerge as a writer, or anything else for that matter, you must emerge from one thing into an entirely different something else.

writer worst fear

A Writer’s Worst Fear

Every writer’s pet fear stems from the mother of all fears: What other people think of what I write is more important than what I think of what I write.

Ira Glass on taste

On Tastemakers and Making

Taste is not static. Rather than a fixed endpoint toward which one toils away, it’s a target that moves over the course of a lifetime.

map and pins

Suffering From Writer Envy? There’s a Map Only You Can Make

Any accomplished writer is also a reader—and usually a reader first. For the writer who is the least a bit humble, this sets up one of the most significant psychological barriers to pursuing a writing career: How could I ever produce something as wonderful as [admired writer / admired book]? This is an area that Steven […]

story ending

When a Story Ending Doesn’t Satisfy

Sometimes endings are designed to satisfy, answering the questions posed along the way. Endings that allow you to leave as easily as you came in. But what if the ending isn’t designed to satisfy?

The Value of Writing Retreats

Why must writers schedule time for residencies and retreats? Because in doing so, we honor an annual appointment with writer self-care.

when brevity is bad

When Brevity in Storytelling Is Bad

It’s sometimes easier to cut a piece of writing if you can’t see how to fix it. Just remove the offending bits, job done. But it can deaden a piece.

Writer Unboxed

Pushing Up Against Your Limits

There are many analogies drawn between writing and sports: exercising your creative muscles, learning to go the distance, pushing up against your limits.

unlock your momentum

2 Keys to Unlock Your Momentum

Before you can take someone else’s advice, you have to develop a realistic picture of who you are, what your tendencies are, and what you’re willing and able to change.