My pieces are cataloged by topic in this article; Scroll down for most recent
I always wanted to be the kind of person who keeps a journal. I’ve played with journaling online and writing in a notebook, but it never seems to stick.
When I read Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, I took her suggestion to write “morning pages” to heart. For several months, I woke up every morning to write three magical pages. Cameron suggests that if you get stuck, you simply write “I can’t think of anything to write” over and over until you think of something to say.
Some people have had incredible results with this technique. However, my attempts…
One of the most common complaints I hear from writers is, “I don’t know what should happen next.” Often when writers struggle with plots, it’s because we are overlooking hints and clues in our own work.
A plot is just a series of events and the order in which those events are placed. However, the events should have emotional significance that causes a reaction and response in the character — for example, a hurricane is an event. A scene in a plot, however, would require not just a hurricane, but a hurricane that threatens something/someone the character loves, therefore causing…
These articles always separate work and life as if work is work and life is going for long walks on the beach and drinking a piña colada at sundown. The implication is that work is not fun, while life is nothing but relaxing times spent on photogenic pillow fights. But, for those of us who love our artistic work, sometimes the problem with work-life balance is…
Both my husband and daughter hate going to the doctor because they are terrified of getting shots. For my daughter, this often means miserable sobbing and — sometimes — physically avoiding the shot by shrinking away, moving across the room, etc.
No reassurance from me will convince her to sit still. The interesting thing about this is how surprised and relieved she always is when it’s over. It’s never as bad as her fear.
After last year’s Shot Drama, I made her write a note to her future self. It was no big deal; she just scribbled, “It only hurts…
Well, I guess I learned something.
This morning, my article explaining five ways that warmup writing helps prepare your mind for work was published in a publication I enjoy. It got one clap, which is always baffling.
Don’t get me wrong—I appreciate it. I like to imagine it as a high-five. But given that people *can* clap fifty times, it feels disappointing.
That single, lonely clap would be a bit sad if it weren’t also funny.
We write these articles and release them into the wild, hoping to inspire and connect. Sometimes we manage to do that. And sometimes we get the sad trombone sound. It’s a good reminder of how little control we have over the response to our work.
My senior year English teacher was one of those amazing people who can change lives with the power of her passion for a subject. She loved reading poems, books, and stories, but most of all, she loved writing. She loved the mechanics of it, she loved the words, she loved the structure and flow, and she loved to see the creative mind at work.
Every day, when we entered the classroom, there would be an interesting thought from a well-known writer on the board. We were to sit down, copy the quote, and write our thoughts on it for five…
Why did a simple statement resonate so deeply?
My weekly email newsletter isn’t really “news”; it’s simply meant to support writers by offering a piece of encouragement. This week, my newsletter was about rest, and said, in part:
Farmers often let a plowed field lie fallow, or unplanted, for a growing season after several years of crops. This is to give the field a chance to restore its organic matter.
I suggested that anyone feeling burned out due to a heavy focus on productivity should consider a fallow period.
And people started writing back. This is unusual, but when it happens I know I’ve struck a nerve.
So if you need to hear this message, let me be the one to say it: It’s okay to rest.
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If you want to write good scenes, it’s vital to start by understanding what a scene is. In my years as an editor and MFA-level writing instructor, I came across countless writers who were incredibly talented and could craft terrific sentences, elegant descriptions, and funny dialog. But they often seemed confused about scene structure, which meant that those beautiful sentences, descriptions, and dialog were wasted in stories that didn’t seem to be going anywhere.
And here’s the problem: Readers will forgive anything except being boring. If your scenes are static, they will put your book down and pick up their…