Yes, it's great to get poems published, or have your manuscript requested by an agent, or receive praise from peers in your writing workshop. That recognition can keep you going through the tough times. But as long as you look for validation from external sources, you're never going to fully trust your creativity. Do your work because you value it.Read More
The dreadful survey on author incomes revealed the average author income was a few bucks over $6,000, a 42 percent drop from author incomes in 2009.Read More
Dialogue is one of those elements that can make or break your story. It’s also one of those things that it’s really hard to get right….in part because many writers don’t know (or won’t hear) they are getting it wrong.Read More
Making a new year’s resolution for a big writing goal? Maybe you want to write a novel, or finally finish that draft of the screenplay you’ve been “working on” since summer. Here are the 7 ways I stay on track with big writing goals.Read More
Over the Thanksgiving table, we talked more about the climate than we did about gratitude. It’s not that I’m not grateful (a gratitude practice is part of my self care habits) as much as that climate change has my attention — helped along by the Black Friday climate change report the administration hoped to hide behind all those doorbusters.
It’s easy to feel hopeless when major news like that comes out. The effects of climate change are so massive, whether that’s more of California burning or the slow starvation of polar bears, that the default reaction of most people I know is “I can’t do anything about that.”
And while it’s true that large-scale climate action is needed, that does not mean that individual actions don’t matter.Read More
Times when I need it most, I fall behind on self care strategies that help me bring my best self to the page.
Everything becomes an either/or trap:
Either I can take 30 minutes to do some yoga or I can write.
Either I can spend 15 minutes reading something for fun (not for research) or I can write.
Either I can call a friend or I can write.
Writing wins most of the time.Read More
I was so young when Matthew Shephard was brutally murdered, but we were all so young then.
Matthew’s murder made me feel how vulnerable it was to be different. To be queer.
I was in the closet when he died, and I wouldn’t come out for another year. But on some soul level, I knew I was gay, too. I knew it could happen to me, in another place, in another time.Read More
Coming up as writers we’re taught to write what we know, first and foremost.
So for a long time, I felt like my writing had to express certain parts of my personality and interests—those hobbies, passions, and things I knew a lot about.
That meant that when I felt great despair about things, whether it’s the refugee crisis or climate change, those topics didn’t always make it into my work because I wasn’t a subject matter expert. They sat on the sidelines.Read More
It started as an off feeling: Sluggish digestion. A morning fatigue that wouldn’t lift. And intense, crazy dreams whose themes—running to catch a train that didn’t stop at my station—suggested anxiety. Was this the expected tiredness that so often comes with a shift in season? My brain’s response to the dull, gray weather and shorter days?
I brushed off my feelings at first. I’d been working on the weekends and taking care of home maintenance needs. Of course I was tired and stressed. That was all…or was it?Read More
While my summer writing residency feels like it happened ages ago, sometimes I can still grab onto the immediacy of the experience.
Doing a crossword puzzle in bed, I see myself curled on the loveseat in my cabin working a crossword. Reading through the books I picked up in Whitehorse, I remember the intense hues of those alpine lakes.
I’m not in Alaska, but the things I learned, they’re still in me, and they’ve changed my writing process in a few fundamental ways. A couple months out from residency, here’s what sticks with me most.Read More
A writer friend suggested the idea of having a set number of pieces out for consideration: Say five or ten or two, whatever your number is. The idea is, you submit to magazines until you reach your magic number, you let them consider your work, and then when a rejection rolls in you send out to keep your number where you want it. It’s sort of a low-stress submission strategy, and it’s appealing to me now because balancing edits and querying and revision is SO MUCH WORK.Read More
My neighbors had a tree service out today. All morning, it was chain saws and tree grinders droning on. That’s annoying, yes, when you work at home. You can’t really polish an essay before submission when your idle thinking time is interrupted by the grinder plowing through another load of leafy branches.
Then when you start comparing your productivity to theirs, it all derails.
They’ve taken down a century old tree while you’re still trying to muddle through one measly blog post.Read More
I’m back from my writers residency in Alaska. Right now I’m getting back to speed: the bags are unpacked and I’m over the jetlag, and working on implementing the lessons I learned from my residency into a new workflow that will allow me to be as productive as possible on the important work.
I’ll share my insights on productivity and process in another blog post. Today I thought I would share a little of the factual information about my writers residency—where I went, what it was like, and some photos from southeast Alaska because it is BEAUTIFUL.Read More
I’ve headed out for a one-month writers residency in Alaska, where I’ll have my own cabin and uninterrupted time to write. It’s an honor to be chosen, and a longterm dream of mine — one I only recently gave myself permission to pursue. Residencies sound very mystical—something for the privileged few who can afford application fees—but that’s a myth. There are thousands of writers residencies all over the world, and many have no application fee. Learn why I thought a residency was out of reach, what changed my mind, and my best tips on how to apply for writing residencies.Read More
In the last post I shared a little bit about that stuck feeling and tricks to overcome it. But one of my favorite ways to overcome writers’ block is through morning pages, a tool from The Artist’s Way.
I don’t do morning pages any longer, but I did them daily when I was working through the Artist’s Way after writer’s block, a health crisis, depression, and getting married (no wonder I couldn’t write with all that shit going on).
A few voices chime in that no one liked their pitch.
They got a like, but it was from a vanity publisher, not from an agent.
They tried PitchWars and didn’t get in, they tried Nightmare on Query Street and didn’t get in, they tried DVPit and didn’t get in – and now they’re thinking their flavor of book is not marketable.
And they say in a small voice, maybe they won’t query after all. Maybe they will put their work back on the shelf.
Each time I see this sort of behavior, it makes me want to yell as loud as I possibly can.
Writing this week has been a slog! So I thought I’d share a bit about it.
It seems like everyone is breaking up with social media in 2018.
Or at least thinking about it.
Doing it for a week and going back to it.
Winnowing down the channels they devote time to, because who has time for social media? Who honestly has time?Read More