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.

mailboxes at night

Going Beyond Truth-Telling in Personal Essay

When I was a teenager, I had braces, but quickly stopped wearing my retainer after the braces came off. Now, twenty years later, I’ve sorely regretted my lack of diligence. It turns out that teeth have a long memory about where they used to be, and wander back to their original starting position. So I visited an […]

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.

rank me

The Question I Hate the Most

It’s the question I dislike the most from writers, and that I try to avoid answering—because it lays a terrible burden on me.

Foggy Trees

Why Writers Should Consider the Habits of the Flâneur

The advantages of walking are well-known and long-heralded. Likewise delightful, the urban perambulatory habits of the flâneur. Less heralded perhaps are the practical creative benefits of stretching one’s legs with neither exercise nor aimlessless in mind.

Gabe Herron

You Can’t Rush Your Development

A couple weeks ago, I advised young writers to have patience—with themselves, with the publishing process, and with their development. Writer Gabe Herron recently wrote an essay for Glimmer Train that echoes that theme as well. He says: Time is the main thing. There never seems to be enough of it, especially once you’ve gone […]

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.