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.
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 […]
We order; we catalogue. It is, simply, what the human mind excels at.
If fiction writing is something you’d like to pursue in your retirement years, follow these steps to help you prepare for the business of authorship.
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.
Sometimes that first draft is never going to become a final draft. That doesn’t mean it’s a waste, though.
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 […]
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?
Productivity is certainly one goal of a retreat. But there are other desired outcomes, such as returning home rested, relaxed, and energized by the time away.
Learn about four tensions you may experience that have the potential to undermine your creative work and leave you feeling stuck.
Why must writers schedule time for residencies and retreats? Because in doing so, we honor an annual appointment with writer self-care.
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.
There are many analogies drawn between writing and sports: exercising your creative muscles, learning to go the distance, pushing up against your limits.
Before you buy another pen-and-pencil set for that writer in your life, consider some gift options that take their digital lives into consideration.
The most successful people in every industry use goals as road maps to help them reach their desired destination. It’s no different for writers.
Author Kurt Rheinheimer discusses how the most precious vein for material is from just before he knew who he was and what was going on.
There are countless ways to defeat ourselves, but the biggest and worst is to make the task too big and then feel daunted before we ever start
Watch my 30-minute talk on how to bring together the art and business sides of your career in a way that doesn’t feel like a bad marriage.
Author Melissa Yancy shines a new light on what failure brings to the writing life—and it isn’t the usual reflection on rejection.
When writers talk about where their ideas come from, the answers are as varied as wildflowers
The way we write can define (and transform) the way we live. Author Sage Cohen believes ferocity is our best compass for finding our true way forward.
You can find depths of meaning in the shared language and goals you’ve developed with the writers around you.
Why are we so curious about authors’ own lives in relation to their books, and the ways that they do (or don’t) bring their own stories into their work? Why do we wonder what’s “true”?
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.
The greatest tool for gaining reader confidence is internal dialogue—because when a character reveals his thoughts, he’s confiding in the audience.
Novelist James Scott Bell identifies 5 common “rules” that writers would do best to ignore—such as “Don’t start your story talking about the weather.”
Writers can be like misers with their money when it comes to ideas—and ultimately that behavior can prevent you from producing great work.
Think in terms of “telling details”: details that let the reader see your characters while also revealing something about their minds.
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.
Much of writing advice boils down to: add more conflict. But don’t forget how happy lives can involve compromise and complication as well.
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.
Write about the things you can’t forget, the things that keep you up at night.
In the literary fiction world, it’s often taken as an article of faith that writing is an intrinsically important activity to be engaged in. Is it?
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 […]
The first secret of comedy writing is perhaps its most important.
What young people need to know about writing and publishing.
Learn what it means to see and read the world in terms of narrative design.
I’m often asked: How can I be so productive? Or how does one balance creative work and other life demands? Here’s the most truthful answer I have.
For every 45 minutes that you write, do 15 minutes of something else. But there’s one catch.
Fiction writer Douglas W. Millikin offers an honest and insightful essay about the biggest myths writers face about their profession.
Writers may desire advice on how to better balance their writing lives and be productive, but few prescriptives are one size fits all.
How do you balance work on your art with work on yourself?
Understand the 7 sins of memory, and how to use these sins to convey greater meaning and truth in your stories.
Author Barbara Baig discusses word choice and how it affects tone, voice, and clarity.
If you want to write realistic dialogue, resist the temptation to follow a very logical “call and response” structure.
Brooke McIntyre of Inked Voices explains what to look for in a critique group and how to find the best writing critique group for you.
The personal essay can provide an artful account of earned insight often more useful than years of therapeutic work.
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.
If you can’t portray someone you know personally in a positive fashion, you will probably lose this friend and/or be sued for libel.
More writing does not necessarily equal better-quality writing, nor does faster writing lead to faster achievement of your goals.