Sometimes, You Need to Go Off Track to Find Your Way in Writing

Sometimes, You Need to Go Off Track to Find Your Way in Writing

One of the things I frequently hear from writers is a sense of dismay at how long the writing process can be. They want to find the quickest, most efficient way through so they can finish (and publish) their short story, essay, or book.

I get it. I'm in the process of writing something that's growing (perhaps into a novel, though I'm not ready to call it that). I catch myself thinking about just how loooong this process could be.

Read More

The Importance of Calling Yourself a Writer

The Importance of Calling Yourself a Writer

There's this funny thing people do (myself included) when it comes to titles. We ascribe them to only the most successful people. You're a skier if you go out every chance you get, have been doing it your whole life, or win competitions. You're a writer if you're extensively published (national level is, of course, best and regional or local is suspect at best). 

Read More

8 Changes that Dramatically Improved My Writing

8 Changes that Dramatically Improved My Writing

I haven’t always felt content with my writing. I mean, writers are supposed to suffer, from procrastination or writer's block or something, aren’t they? (Just kidding!) But this year, I made some big shifts in the way that I approach writing—and that’s made the difference between being satisfied, inspired even, and that sinking sort of feeling, the one that ends with, Maybe next year.

Read More

All stories and books start with a really bad first draft.

All stories and books start with a really bad first draft.

Do you ever get so frustrated with writing that you're tempted to quit whatever it is that you're working on?

I've been working with writers as a coach and leading leading writing challenges for a few years now, and I'm always reminded that there is a predictable flow to any writing experience. 

The first few days, week or start of a project writers are on Cloud 9. They're fresh, have a lot of enthusiasm, and they have fun testing out new writing tools because they're not working on the actual piece yet. The stakes are low. 

Read More

A tale of two writing retreats (a.k.a. how I failed at one and thrived at another)

A tale of two writing retreats (a.k.a. how I failed at one and thrived at another)

Have you ever noticed the way that having a short amount of time to write can create a sense of panic? Like, I only have one hour to write this week, or two days of a retreat—I better make the most of it!

Last month, my writing partner and I took ourselves on a writing retreat in a teeny, tiny town an hour outside of Denver (it makes my mountain town feel like a metropolis). I arrived armed with supplies and ideas: the first 80 pages of my latest project, printed; several books with essays and short stories for inspiration; and several options in mind to get the “most” out of the weekend. Like reading those pages to make sure I was on the “right track,” revising what I'd already written, or working on a short story an editor reviewed for me. 

Read More

Hit a curve in the writing road? Try this.

Hit a curve in the writing road? Try this.

One day, a novel writer in my Writer’s Voice Mastermind group came to me with a challenge. She’d been going along just fine, the story seeming to pour out of her. All of a sudden, things got fuzzy. 

“It’s like I’ve been going along on a straightaway, and all of a sudden there’s this curve in the road,” she said. Things slowed down, she couldn’t tell what was around the bend, and she had no idea how to move forward.

A few days later, the other novel writer in the program came to me and said the exact same thing. “I seem to have hit this curve

Read More

Type a word. Think. Type a word. Think. Here's how to end the madness.

Type a word. Think. Type a word. Think. Here's how to end the madness.

An aspiring writer told me that she wants to write a book based on some of the true (and funny) experiences she’s had working with kids. She has a whole list of stories to include. 

When I asked if she’d tried writing any of them, she said that she had, but it went something like this:

•    Type a word
•    Sit and think
•    Type a word
•    Sit and think

Read More

Ready. Set. Write. One great way to create something new.

Ready. Set. Write. One great way to create something new.

Writing is a lot like life. You want to accomplish something, but you want to make sure you’re doing it well and doing it the right way

You want to pick the right topic. You want to start your story in the right place. You want to know that when you invest the time, it will be meaningful. And you want all of this even though you know that in writing, just like life, there are no guarantees. 

Read More