Creativity + Inspiration
Tell Your Story with 3 Tarot Cards
The imagery and symbolism in a tarot deck can help an author achieve clarity on character and story arcs, internal and external journeys.
Yes, Writers Need to Hear the Hard Truths. But Warnings Can Go Too Far
One author considers the power that writing conferences have to inspire—and to discourage—their audiences.
3 Writing Prompts to Spark Your Creativity
In this excerpt from her book The Joy of Writing Journal, Lisa Tener offers three prompts to help you see story ideas all around.
The Most Significant Choice Of Your Writing Career
This choice has nothing to do with the act of writing, but everything to do with how you talk to yourself about your vocation.
Strained Brain? How to Stoke Your Mental Fire
It’s impossible to fire on all cylinders all the time, so dedicate some of your writing time to stoke the flames of creativity.
The Green-Eyed Monster: Jealousy in the Time of Quarantine
Despite our best efforts, artistic jealousy affects us all at times. But how we perceive another’s success is never the whole picture.
How to Restart Your Unfinished Book
Your calendar will never be suddenly free of urgent distractions. To finish that book on the back burner, you must actively bring it forward.
Letter Writing as a Powerful Prompt
From Franz Kafka to Bob Dylan, history shows that letter writing can be a portal to discovery that benefits a wide variety of projects.
Writing from the Bottom Rung: How to Sustain Your Creativity During a Pandemic
In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the top rung is where creativity happens—after our sustenance and security are met. Many of us are just not there, yet.
For Writers, Silence Might Not Be Golden After All
Research shows that most people reach peak cognitive performance under moderately noisy conditions—roughly the sound of a coffee shop on a busy day.
7 Non-Literary Ways for Writers to Get into the Flow
At times when reading seems like a chore and writing every day is like squeezing blood from a stone, try nurturing your creativity in different ways.
Loss: The Exact Reason to Read and Write
Loss can make fiction feel like an obnoxious waste of time. And maybe it is. But what if all of this loss is the exact reason to read? To write?
How to Get Out of the Writing Doldrums
When stuck in the doldrums, writing coach Mathina Calliope recommends "writer candy"—literary distractions that nourish the muse.
Context: When a Story Demands More Than Plot
Sometimes a story demands more than just a plot. You may want to create a context, a descriptive background that sheds light on a story's meaning.
Better Your Writing By Being a Beginner—Every Day
You've probably heard writing advice such as “Ass in chair” and “Write every day.” While the advice has its limitations, there's a good reason it's mentioned so often.
Writer’s Block Is a Gift. Here’s Why.
You're intimately familiar with the nature of your writer's block, right? In this guest post, creativity coach and author Julia Roberts pinpoints specific tools, and how they helped her, to clarify and solve the real issue.
Considering Your Reader Is Not Coddling Them
Which approach is right? Write only for yourself and in service of your vision OR write with an intended readership in mind.
Knowing When to Fly: Leaving Your Critique Group
In working on your craft, it's one thing to find the right critique group. It's quite another to know when to fly. Writer and librarian Lisa Bubert shares her experience, outlines her formula, and offers tips on leaving the nest.
The Myth of the Natural Writer
There's a legendary joke about the writing life, often attributed to Margaret Atwood. It goes like this: A brain surgeon and a writer meet at a party.
When You’re Just Not Ready for Rejection
Rejection is painful, and there's no avoiding it as a writer. But you don't have to submit before you're ready to deal with it. Writer and blogger Shana Scott offers some perspective on the conventional "publish or perish" advice.
When Words Are What You Love Most of All
The writers who visit you in class, when you're still a student—especially if you're young and impressionable—these writers stick with you for a lifetime.
The Myth of Plan First and Write Later
You don’t have to choose between planning and "simply writing." Do both, at different times, all the way through the novel writing process.
Voice Is How You Dance on the Page
Voice: It's either there in the writing or it's not. And some writers haven't developed or "found" their voice yet.
Feeling Envious of Other Writers? Here’s a Solution.
Writer Anthony Doerr once told me something his father told him, and I'll paraphrase it poorly here: You're going to get your neck sunburned looking up all the time.
Feeling Stuck? Focus on a Single Sentence
Focusing on the smallest thing you can accomplish: this is the magic trick to making progress or getting unstuck.
Take Charge of Your Creative Life: The SWOT Analysis
When you understand your SWOT as an author, you can take control over your time. You can stop fighting fires, and start focusing on the things that will truly help you in the long run.
How to Describe Neurodivergent Characters
How do you describe a character with Asperger’s—especially if your story takes place before such a thing had a name?
Something to Remember as NaNoWriMo Begins
The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating – in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic,
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.
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 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?
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.
Character, Writers, and Portrait Photography
In many ways, a portrait photographer encounters the same great issue as fiction writers, chiefly, creating and revealing character.
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?
You Must Write Through Many Bad Sentences
Writer Jane Delury discusses the importance of showing up and writing regardless of the conditions you find yourself in, no matter how you feel.
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."
The Totality Effect: Thoughts for a New Year
What I learned from the total eclipse was this: What wasn’t phenomenal? Everywhere I looked, something grand was there for the taking.
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.
How to Write From a Child’s Perspective—But for Adult Readers
Novelist Sophie Chen Keller offers an incisive look at what's different about writing a novel for adults when the narrator is a child.
Is It Too Late to Start Writing After 50?
Yes, it is possible to have a very successful writing career later in life—and doing something new later in one’s career helps to keep you young.
How I Used Writing to Survive (Or: Writing Despite Illness)
I started writing seriously after being diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s. Now was the time to do it, or quit talking about it.
What Writers Can Learn About Voice From Opera
Opera is the single Western art in which voice determines character, or, more closely, expresses character. For writers, opera offers a set of finger exercises, if not pointers.
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?
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.
Creation and Doubt Are Conjoined Twins
All writers have to find a way to deal with the internal negative voice that tells them their work is crap and not worth pursuing.
Troubleshooting for Writers: 7 Questions to Ask When You Lose Desire to Finish Your Book
Ideally, we’d have all the creativity and energy and desire we need to write amazing stories. However, the truth is, sometimes we hit roadblocks while following through. Here are some of the most common roadblocks and how you might solve them.