Who Is Your Favorite Short-Story Writer?

amy hempelThere are a lot of amazing story writers–more every day, I think. What makes a short story brilliant? Well, that’s a matter of opinion. Some want to define it or find a formula; I used to be one of those. Anymore, I’ve given into my tendency to feel instead of think. Rather, my tendency to feel while thinking, and think about my feelings.

You know the Myers-Briggs test? I like to think I’m an INFTP, because when it comes to the think vs. feel questions, I always think, “Why not both?”

Reading her short stories, I get the feeling that Amy Hempel is the same way. If you haven’t read her stuff, I want you to click on this link and read “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” over at Fictionaut. I’ll wait. Continue reading

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How to Get Through a Writer’s Block (or, How to Be a Healthy Writer)

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For writers of all genres, “writer’s block” is as inevitable as death and taxes.

All artists experience this. The brain needs its rest, the muses need their vacations, and everyone who’s ever been serious about creative endeavors has sat staring at a blank page, canvas, brick wall, stage or computer page and thought, “I can’t do this.”

But did you notice that I put “writer’s block” in quotation marks? That wasn’t a typo. I “know” how to “use” “quotation marks.”

Seriously, though: I believe that the phrase “writer’s block” is a crutch we use to make our creative clogs seem more serious than perhaps they are. I’ve known writers who treat it as an illness; when they’re blocked, they can do little more than sit around drinking soup and binge-watching Netflix. They spend a lot of time nursing themselves back to health, so to speak. This can last indefinitely.

Of course (to extend my metaphor) there are people who vegetate through an illness and there are those who just keep truckin’. Then there are those of us who used to vegetate but have had to learn to push through. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo Recap

cropped-pen-and-paper.pngI have to confess something, you guys.

I totally failed at NaNoWriMo this year.

I was doing so well for the first week, never letting anything get in my way–you could practically hear “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the background. When I didn’t know what to write I wrote anyway. I really started developing my characters.

Then I realized that my characters were me and my husband and it was getting too personal and convoluted and I was using it as therapy and I really didn’t want to write this story because it dug too deep and it felt inaccurate and I got overwhelmed. I tried to switch gears, start a new project. Then I got busy. I did what I told you all not to do; I skipped a day. Then I skipped another. I slid all the way down that slippery slope.

BUT: Do you remember what I said about NaNoWriMo being a writing exercise more than a quick way to produce a novel? Even when you don’t finish it, it is. And the point of writing exercises is to open up your creativity, give you fresh ideas, and maybe help you learn about yourself as a writer. For me, it was the latter. Continue reading

Writing Exercise: Fear

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There are a lot of ways to interpret today’s exercise. You can go the Halloween route if you choose, or respond to the horrors of recent news headlines, imagine yourself the victim of a hurricane (or if you are one, recount your experience). Whatever you write about, today I want you to write about fear.

No quippy lead-up today, no time limit. Have fun with it or use it as therapy. And this time, I’m not going to ask you to share with me, nor am I going to share mine.

Making Time to Write: The Egg Timer Method

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I couldn’t even make time to draw a new comic for this post.

As a stay-at-home mom, one of the most difficult things in my life is time management. Then again, as a young woman with a job, one of the most difficult things in my life was time management. And as a college student. And in high school.

Time management is hard.

It’s especially hard when it concerns tasks that are completely self-driven. Writing, for example. Outside of school or a book deal, creative writing is rarely on a deadline. Even my agent doesn’t put much pressure on me the way I hoped she might; really, no one has much stake in my writing another word. So when I’m not super psyched about my work and itching to get to it (which is, unfortunately, somewhat rare these days), finding time to write is even harder. After all, if nobody cares about it, why bother? Continue reading

Writing Exercise: I See Something Pink

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Wherever you are, look around. Find something pink. The first pink thing you see–write it down. If you’re somewhere without pink, get up and look for some. If that’s not possible, or you still can’t find something pink, look up at this picture. What is it? Figure it out. Write about it. 5 minutes. Go.

Mine: Pink Underpants Continue reading