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 […]

Career Changing Move

What One Small Step Made a Big Impact on Your Writing Career?

The biggest career-changing moves I ever made were a combination of: Signing up for Twitter in 2008 & starting the Best Tweets for Writers series (story here) Buying my own domain name—long before I ever started using it—in 2005, then actually launching this site in December 2009 What have your career-changing moves been? Writer’s Digest […]

Allison Amend

Worry About the Writing, Not About Being a Writer

If you could write a letter to your younger writing self, what would you say? Author Allison Amend has imagined and written such a letter. Here’s how she starts: I see you worrying endlessly about your future, and I just wanted to write you a letter and reassure you that fifteen years from now you […]

Matthew Salesses

The Pros and Cons of Being Agreeable and Saying Yes

As writers, we must often protect our time so that we can get our most important writing done. On the other hand, being agreeable and saying “yes” more often can lead to meaningful opportunities—even publication.

Flickr / Eole

If You Struggle With Plot, Here’s How to Think About It Differently

The notion of “plot” is a misconception that leads too many writers to get confused and focus on all the wrong things. Instead, writers should focus on using the plot-free concept of series. A series is the repetition and variation of a narrative element within a story, the process of improvement or deterioration which creates the narrative arc.

Susan Jackson Rogers

Start Small: Moving From Notebook to Story

In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Susan Jackson Rogers has written a brief essay on the writing life: “Closing the Gap: Moving from Notebook to Story.” She discusses how stories get their beginnings and gain traction: Each time, I have to remember: Start small. Why doesn’t “starting small” feel like real writing? Really, there isn’t any […]

Kate Gale

You Need Stakeholders in Your Writing Life

Over at Glimmer Train, author and editor Kate Gale discusses the importance of stakeholders in your writing life—just as a nonprofit organization needs stakeholders. She says: You need a group of people who buy into this idea that you want to be a writer. … You only need a few stakeholders. Five is a nice number. […]

Geoff Wyss

How to Write Characters Who Evoke Reader Compassion

How do you write fiction with characters who are mysteriously human, who evoke empathy and compassion from the reader? Is it by making them understandable? No. Geoff Wyss explains: The better we understand someone, the more fully we should be able to respond to him. But we don’t understand people in real life, not in […]

Creating Space by Ed Cyzewski

Quality Writing Projects Require Safe Places—And Here Are Five

Today’s guest post is by Ed Cyzewski (@EdCyzewski). You may remember him from a previous guest post at this site, Why Self-Publishing Is a Tragic Term. Ed’s latest e-book is available as a free download on Tuesday & Wednesday of this week—visit Amazon to download Creating Space: The Case for Everyday Creativity. After years of doubting that […]

Joshua Henkin

2 Critical Factors for Successful Stories

You can be a beautiful and gifted writer yet fail to craft a compelling narrative. Joshua Henkin, in the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, elucidates, in a memorable and striking way, how to check your work for two critical factors of a successful story: For a story to work, there needs to be both consequence and […]

3 Steps for Using Prompts to Write Better & Get Published

In January of 2007—as a New Year’s resolution—I decided I was a writer. I resolved that I would stop saying that I’d start writing “someday” and instead would sit my backside in the chair and start writing now. No more excuses. I was a writer and I would start acting like one. That was when […]

The Novelist by L.L. Barkat

Steal Your Way to Better Writing

Today’s guest post is by poet and editor L.L. Barkat. You may remember her from an earlier guest post, You Don’t Need a Degree to Find Your Voice. “I can’t write poetry,” she said. And it was true. This girl—who read Macbeth at age twelve and argued with the commentaries, who in the same season […]

What Does It Feel Like to Have Your Book Banned?

Did you know Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg—one of the most popular books on writing of all time—was banned? In honor of Banned Books Week, the good folks at Open Road Media have put together a video featuring authors whose books have been banned—plus celebrating censored favorites. If you don’t see the video appear […]

Josh Swiller

Kitchen Sink That First Draft

Lists of writing tips are always popular (and sometimes overdone), but Josh Swiller’s 12 tips in the latest Glimmer Train bulletin are a delight to read. Two of my favorite tips, directly quoted: Kitchen sink that first draft. Throw every damn thing in there. If you aren’t sure something belongs, if you aren’t even remotely […]

Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up

Drinking, Writing, and Self-Discovery

More than a year ago, I participated in a Q&A over at the Drinking Diaries website, which is a forum for women to share, vent, express, and discuss their drinking stories without judgment. It was a fun experience and many wonderful comments came through, plus a couple people bluntly said they didn’t want to know the […]

Stefani Nellen

How to Distract Yourself From Trying to Impress

Do you find yourself writing descriptive passages meant to “wow” the reader? Later, do you find that such passages amount to nothing more than small talk? Or maybe you’re just tired of your current revision process? Writer Stefani Nellen stumbled on a method that has helped her attain needed distance to see her writing for what […]

Leaving Behind Your Day Job

I worked many jobs in my younger days: Papa John’s pizza delivery driver, Cedar Point amusement park employee, McDonald’s drive-thru worker, and KFC associate, just to name a few. Most writers have worked a number jobs before finding the way or the means to pursue writing full time. Open Road Media has put together a […]

A Year of Writing Dangerously by Barbara Abercrombie

What Does Your Mother Think of Your Writing? Does It Matter?

Today’s post features an item excerpted from A Year of Writing Dangerously: 365 Days of Inspiration & Encouragement (New World Library, 2012) by Barbara Abercrombie. Barbara has published 14 books and numerous essays and articles, and has taught creative writing courses for almost three decades. She lives in Santa Monica, California. Find out more at her […]

The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood

5 Remarkable Writing Prompt & Exercise Books

After working at Writer’s Digest for a decade-plus, I saw more than my fair share of writing exercise/prompt books—plus I also acquired and edited quite a few. Writing prompts have always been an ever-popular topic of discussion (and usefulness) for writers, regardless of stage of career. Here I’d like to share what I found to […]

Danielle Lazarin

Why Write When Others Write So Much Better?

Every writer I know can identify with the following: I was only halfway through Stuart Dybek’s I Sailed with Magellan when I decided I should just give up on writing altogether; that the intimacy he achieves with childhood and adolescence was more than I could ever imagine accomplishing, and I wanted to leave it to […]

How Dads Influenced Some Famous Writers

My dad once told me I could do or be anything I wanted. Apparently that’s the same thing author Patricia Bosworth was told by her dad. Dads seem to enjoy sharing this advice with their daughters. In honor of Father’s Day, the folks at Open Road Media have produced a video where famous writers discuss […]

It Takes an Egg Timer by Joanne Tombrakos

There Are Two Kinds of “Busy.” Is Yours the Good Kind?

The following is excerpted from It Takes an Egg Timer: A Guide to Creating the Time for Your Life by Joanne Tombrakos (@JoanneTombrakos). It’s a brief but essential guide about how to get stuff done, while also helping you understand when and how self-sabotage occurs! Find out more on Amazon, or visit the author’s website. Technology’s […]

Silas Dent Zobal

Fiction Is About What We Can’t Say

If you write fiction, then you don’t want to miss the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, which features three wonderful essays focusing on craft. One of the essays, by Silas Dent Sobal, is a powerful meditation on both how things die and how one writes fiction. Here’s how it starts: I have a sense that what […]

Everyday Writing by Midge Raymond

No Excuse Not to Write: 10 Five-Minute Writing Prompts

The following is excerpted from Everyday Writing by Midge Raymond. The book is meant for anyone with a passion to write but never quite enough time. Find out more at the publisher’s website or view on Amazon. Why take the time for writing prompts? Writing exercises can help our writing in ways we don’t know until […]

Aurelio Asiain / Flickr

What Can Stop Your Career From Ever Starting

Today’s guest post is by Emily Latham. Emily has been one of my students this past academic year at the University of Cincinnati and will graduate soon. In response to Jonathan Fields’ new release, Uncertainty, she wrote the following. The honesty was so remarkable that I asked her if she’d allow me to share her […]

Naive Chaos by Dr. Motte

Why It’s OK to Be Naïve

Today’s guest post is by writer Nick Thacker. Many “normal people” ultimately fail to achieve what they set out to achieve. They’ll struggle for years subsisting on a 9-5 dead-end job, keeping that unfinished manuscript in a drawer—socking away 10% of their income until their blissful-yet-underwhelming retirement. It’s not very encouraging, is it? Let me tell […]

Let It Rain by Tomcat mtl

3 Possibilities for Defeating Writer’s Block

Today’s guest post is by Chris Rosales. Writer’s block. Damn. What was I gonna say? It happens to all of us. My own particular method of avoidance is to pretend it does not exist. As Marcus Aurelius said, “Eliminate the sense of injury, and one eliminates the injury.” But what if we find ourselves blocked […]

Brad Beauregard

Writers Should Struggle Against Style

I often hear writers say they’re struggling to find their voice or their style. So it was unexpected to read this piece from Brad Beauregard about avoiding the adoption of a style. Here’s a brief excerpt: Sometimes writers talk about style as something you can pick up when you buy groceries, something you might stumble […]

Jane Langton, Open Road Media

Bestselling Women Authors Discuss Women Writing

Here’s a lovely way to start your Sunday. With a nod to Women’s History Month, Open Road Media has created a 2-minute video featuring bestselling female mystery writers Ruth Rendell, Susan Isaacs, Jane Langton, Mary Burton and more, sharing their thoughts on women and writing. A couple great quotes from the video: “Being as old […]

Question Mark

100 Tips to Alleviate Self-Doubt

This post is a crowdsourcing effort to come up with 100 tips to battle self-doubt. Since this post went live on January 20, 2012, we’ve been able to collect 83 distinct tips. Click here to download a 1-page handout: 83 Tips to Alleviate Self-Doubt. The original post & comments are below. If you’d like to […]

Joe Vastano

Why Creative People Are Walking Paradoxes

In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Joe Vastano has a lovely essay on how writers have to acknowledge the duality inside them in order to achieve artistic triumph. I couldn’t agree more. Here’s a brief snippet: Creative people are walking paradoxes; both shrewd and naïve, libidinous yet prudish, and so on. I believe that this […]

Flickr / Mark Chadwick

7 Ways Meditation Increases Creativity

Today’s guest post is from Orna Ross, a bestselling Irish author. Our creative intelligence is not accessed by effort in the conventional sense that you learned at school or work. We cannot try or strive or strain for it, any more than we can strive to have fingers or feet. It’s more about dissolving the […]

Writer Unboxed

So, How Do I Find The Time To Do All This?

It’s the most common question I get: How do you find the time to do everything you do? Until now, I’ve never had a ready answer, except that I have few obligations and responsibilities outside of my own career. But after pondering the reasons, I’ve written this post over at Writer Unboxed: The Secret to […]

Grunge Social Media Art

How Social Media Can Change Your Life

Sometimes I find myself defending social media to the experienced user and beginner alike. It can be easily accused—and rightly so—of being full of shameless self-promoters, shrill marketing, and naked people. That’s only one side, though, and it doesn’t have to be the side you engage in or tolerate. Just because you have to throw […]

Sheep herd

How to Confront the Fear of Public Speaking

Today’s guest post is by author Deborah Niemann. Last week as my adult daughter was driving me to a TV station in Indianapolis for a morning show to promote my book, Homegrown and Handmade, I said, “I guess I should be used to the fact that I feel like I’m really sick every time I […]

Laura Oliver

What Territory Do You Explore With Your Writing?

I love this insight from Laura Oliver on the writing life, in a post called “Territory.” She discusses the themes that can permeate our writing, sometimes over a lifetime. (I’ve also heard this phenomenon called one’s “ultimate life concern.”) Here’s a snippet: Most writers have a territory they explore for a time—perhaps an entire career. It […]

Child Reading

Can Children Develop Adequately Without Books?

It is a pleasure to bring you this lovely essay from April Line. April is a freelance writer and writing teacher. She lives in north central Pennsylvania. Visit her online at April Line Writing. Starstruck The theatrical performance of Max & Ruby: Bunny Party came to my town. I freelance for the arts and culture section […]

Why Writers Should Get Over Pop Music

Pop music is the worst thing that could happen to your writing. It’s for dates and bad wedding receptions. Turn it off at once. Pop is designed to structure your ideas. Stereo hearts in the dark with pumped up kicks. And it works far too well for a writer’s good. As Noel Coward told us, […]

by Emilie Ogez / Flickr

My Secret for Battling Procrastination

To some, I may appear productive. But like many, I’m a horrible procrastinator. I try to think about my weakness in positive terms, e.g., “I work better under pressure.” That is true—I believe there’s nothing like a deadline to force you to be creative (one reason why I love blogging!). However, for some projects, I […]

Glacier National Park

3 Questions Every Creative Person Must Ask

I’m starting to find that the same dilemmas come up again and again when I talk with a group about online media and marketing. These are dilemmas that I can’t solve. They boil down to three questions you have to ask yourself—and be able to answer honestly—to find a path that’s your own, not mine. […]

Rumors of Water

You Don’t Need a Degree to Find Your Voice

The following excerpt is from Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing by L.L. Barkat. I am opening a jar of green tea from Granada, Spain. It’s an old salsa jar, without its label. The tea is silvery and reminds me of those pictures I’ve seen of the mountain mist in China. There are […]