The Write Practice

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Want to Learn to Write? Study Painting.

Claude Monet Rouen Cathedral

In just a week we will be saying goodbye to Paris and go to Florence and finally Rome and arrive back in the States May 1.

One of my Paris adventures was to paint a “masterpiece” and then try to sell it on the street. While I’m nowhere near talented enough to paint an actual masterpiece, I reached out to local artist Pauline Fraisse who agreed to help me with my painting, and over a few days in the Luxembourg Gardens and the Marais, I managed to paint something that wasn’t terrible.

What I found fascinating about working with Pauline was how many parallels her painting process had with writing. As she taught me to be a better painter, I found I was learning to be a better writer as well.

What I’m Learning About Writing from Paris

Paris has always been an inspiration for writers and artists. I’ve been here for a month, now, and I’m certainly not lacking in inspiration. However, you don’t have to go to Paris to get the gift the city has to offer. Here’s what I’ve learned about writing from living in Paris.

Writing Fast and Slow: Creative Writing Lessons from Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman

I’m reading Nobel Prize winning Daniel Kahneman‘s groundbreaking book Thinking Fast and Slow. 

What does a celebrated psychologist turned economist have to say about creative writing (besides the fact that his step-daughter is the fiction editor at the New Yorker)? A lot. The lessons I’m learning from Thinking Fast and Slow are transforming the way I write, and I think they will help you, too.

Paris [writing prompt]

Paris at Rush Hour

PRACTICE

Paris is the City of Light, the city where the great modernists writers lived and met each other, like James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and more. It’s the city where Ben Franklin did diplomacy and wrote for more than a decade. It’s the city of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities. 

Write about Paris. Write for fifteen minutes. When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section. And if you do post, be sure to give feedback to your fellow writers.

Happy writing!

23 Essential Quotes from Ernest Hemingway About Writing

Ernest Hemingway

“The blue-backed notebooks, the two pencils and the pencil sharpener (a pocket knife was too wasteful), the marble topped tables, the smell of early morning, sweeping out and mopping, and luck were all you needed. For luck, you carried a horse chestnut and a rabbit’s foot in your right pocket.” —Ernest Hemingway

5 Easy Steps to Write the Perfect Travel Article

sunset picnic in paris

I used to volunteer for an organization that sent thousands of people around the world a year, most of whom kept blogs about their travel experiences. Working with these fledgling writers, I found out most people had no clue how to write about travel.

The Hardest Part of Writing Really Well

poem store

We’re here in Paris, and in honor of our trip, I’ve been reading A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway’s memoir about living and writing in the city. In the book, he reveals what I think is one of the hardest parts about being a serious writer, a writer who cares deeply about the quality of his or her prose.

Leaving [writing prompt]

flight to Paris

PRACTICE

Write about leaving (e.g. a young adult leaving for college, a wife leaving her abusive husband, a writer leaving for a great trip).

Write for fifteen minutes. When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers.

Your Next Creative Breakthrough Is Only a Breakdown Away

breakthrough

Years ago, when I imagined the lifestyle of a writer, I envisioned myself sauntering along the streets at dusk, sitting at cafés while stories unfolded magically in my imagination, the whole world seemingly at the tip of my pen.

Now that I’ve been writing for a while, I’ve realized that creative breakthroughs do happen, and when you experience them, they’re better even than how you imagined them to be. But they come at a terrible cost.

Writers Really Need To Collaborate

collaborate

First, I want to say thank you. Yesterday, I launched my new book, a choose your own adventure memoir, and I shared why I think these kinds of collaborative books are going to be more popular in the future. So far, the response has been amazing. The Kickstarter reached thirty percent of its minimum the first day. While we still have a long way to go (I think we can raise $7,000, which will allow me to print a gorgeous hardcover edition), I’m humbled by your support.