Unpublished Writing

When You Have Lots of Unpublished Writing in Boxes

As a teenager, I looked on my mother’s files with disdain and, later, with pity. How sad, I thought, to just move papers about and never really do the things you want to do. How tragic, to lock up a life in a box.

Stephen King by Oscar Oliva OA / DeviantArt

Stephen King Still Fears Failure. How About You?

Today’s guest post is by freelancer and author Marcy McKay. The November 2014 issue of Rolling Stone interviews the master of contemporary fiction, Stephen King. The Q&A covers a myriad of interesting topics for writers: the author’s typical working day, his literary legacy, as well as how alcohol and drugs affected his writing back in the […]

John Thornton Williams

How to Reveal Character Emotion Without Venturing Into Cliché

One of the most important goals of any fiction writer is getting the reader to connect on an emotional level with the story’s characters. But how do you accomplish this without being clumsy—without saying, directly, “Joe felt so upset he wanted to die,” which takes you right into the heart of cliché? John Thorton Williams […]

Elizabeth Kadetsky

The Benefits of Procrastination & Distraction

Every month, Glimmer Train releases a bulletin that includes a few brief essays by writers on the writing life. For October, I was happy to find the themes of procrastination and distraction—and how they can be a positive influence in our work lives. Elizabeth Katdetsky discusses how she gives in to the procrastinator in herself, and how […]

Amina Gautier

How Revising Rewards Mistakes

One writing and publishing adage I’ve always believed in: “Writing is rewriting.” Fiction writer Amina Gautier’s approach is similar. For her, revising is the best part. Over at the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, she offers tips on unlocking the joy of revision. She says: Revising encourages and liberates the writer to “make mistakes.” It rewards mistakes; each […]

Josh Weil

Sow Your Characters’ Emotions in Early

In a thought-provoking post over at Glimmer Train, Josh Weil talks about Chekhov’s rule: If you bring a gun into the story, then it must fire by the end. Weil reverses it to produce a new insight: “If you’re going to fire a gun at the end, you’d better bring it in near the beginning.” He goes on to discuss […]

World Domination Summit

3 Takeaways for Writers from the 2014 World Domination Summit

This past weekend, I attended the World Domination Summit (WDS) in Portland, which attracts 3,000 creative people who are concerned with answering the question: “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” They are guided by three values: Community Service Adventure Speaking personally, I’m really into the first two, as well as […]

Celeste Ng

The Argument for Ambiguity in Your Story

To create a story that feels as if it could leave the page: That’s the dream of many writers. But to pull it off means leaving space for the reader. Celeste Ng, author of the newly released Everything I Never Told You, explains: … you need to leave a few unmapped places so the characters can step beyond […]

Bret Anthony Johnston

Understand Your Character’s Obsession

Fiction writers: How well do you know your protagonist? While you may have learned the basics of point of view, and can tell the story from your protagonist’s perspective, how does your protagonist see the events and details of the world around him? Bret Anthony Johnston suggests, “Point-of-view is defined by obsession.” He writes in […]

Monica Byrne

Let’s Resist the Culture of Idolatry in American Literature

In a bold and insightful piece by writer Monica Byrne, she discusses how, as an emerging writer, she created a list of her favorite authors titled “My Idols.” But she scratched that out, then wrote “My Models.” Then, finally, “My Peers.” Why? … I realized the difference between admiration and idolatry. How I placed the famous writer’s innate […]

David James Poissant

Make Submitting Work Your Superpower

Over at the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, writer David James Poissant discusses a topic very near and dear to my heart: Grit. Or maybe you call it persistence. He calls it relentlessness and tenacity. It goes by a lot of names, but basically it means a few rejections aren’t going to stop you. Or just […]

Beth Ann Fennelly

A Collaborative Novel Is Twice the Work, Not Half the Work

In an essay about writing a novel with her husband, Beth Ann Fennelly discusses that the process did not lead to fighting, but that it was fun, and not as lonely. However, it didn’t mean half the work. It meant twice the work. She writes: That’s when the novel really started cooking—and finally became fun to […]

Photo by Daniel Y. Go / via Flickr

10 Apps to Help You Stay Focused on Your Writing

Today’s guest post is by Frances Caballo (@caballofrances), a social media strategist and manager for writers, and the author of Avoid Social Media Time Suck, among other titles. Inspiration is the windfall from hard work and focus. Muses are too unreliable to keep on the payroll. —Helen Hanson As authors, we love to read, write, and talk about […]

Finding a Balance Between Writing and Marketing

Note from Jane: The following post by Joshua Graham (@J0shuaGraham) is the third in a series sponsored by Nook Press, offering tips and advice from authors on writing and publishing. Read earlier sponsored posts from Nook: How to Build a Writing Group in Your Community by Nathaniel Kressen The Importance of Your Book Cover: Finding the Right Fit by Colleen Gleason […]

Celeste Ng

The Challenges and Opportunities of an Omniscient POV

The most prevalent point-of-view used by writers today is the third-person limited POV (sometimes spread across multiple characters), as well as the first-person POV. It’s pretty rare to find a contemporary novel written with an omniscient narrator—which is why Celeste Ng found it a terrifying realization, while writing her first novel, that her story required […]

Carrie Brown

Writers: Look for the Majestic Silence

Inevitably there will come a moment when the writer’s gaze stays somewhere—there’s that “majestic silence”—and at that moment, the writer knows to stand still and listen and look.

Photo by fatllama / Flickr

A Call to Disarm Technology & Hype (And Boost Your Writing Productivity)

The internet and other technology keeps us on insanely high alert, ultimately producing an effect where we attend to everything and we attend to nothing (deeply). This high-alert state is producing a fatigue that’s detrimental not only to our psyches and relationships, but also to the quality of our professional output.

photo by Ian Burnes

Editors Are Usually Really Nice People

If you have Zen or Buddhist inclinations—and you’re also in the profession of writing and publishing—you will love this story and meditation by Gillian Burnes. It begins: In the middle of a Vipassana meditation retreat last summer … I went up to the teacher at the end of the dharma talk and said, as sweetly […]

E.A. Durden

The Problem With Overly Nice Characters

What’s wrong with overly nice characters? To begin with, they’re boring. This is because they can’t abide conflict, and smooth it over every chance they get.

Melissa Sipin

Write What Haunts You

What haunts you? What images or moments have never left you? What do you keep revisiting again and again and again?

Photo by Caro Wallis / Flickr

Submission: 6 Rules of Thumb From an Editor-Turned-Writer

Today’s guest post is by writer and editor Jennifer Niesslein (@jniesslein), who is based in Charlottesville, Virginia. I’m experiencing karma. For more than a decade, I co-edited a literary magazine—I was the person who wouldn’t respond regarding your writing for three months, sometimes longer. And now, for the past nine months, I’ve been writing. It […]

You've Got a Book in You by Elizabeth Sims

To Be Great, Strive to Be Ordinary

The following guest post from Elizabeth Sims is adapted from her newest book, You’ve Got a Book in You, from Writer’s Digest. As you plunge into writing your book, here’s the main thing to do: Strive for the ordinary. Because that’s what the greats do. If I were a person who used vulgarities, I would […]