Confession time. How much exercise have you done today? How about yesterday? Over the course of the past week?
And why am I talking about exercise on a website for writers?
Because getting your body up and moving is good for your plotlines.
Run Writer Run: Why Exercise Will Improve Your Writing »
I have been a contributor here at The Write Practice for over a year. In that time, I’ve had the honor and the pleasure to get to know some of you. I’ve enjoyed writing every one of the posts published in my TWP stream and taking part in discussions and comments. But as all things eventually do, this too must come to an end. This is my last regular post.
The good news is, it’s not one of those “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” endings. It’s more like “I still love you but I have to go and I’ll write when I can.” Blame it on our solar system that only gives us twenty-four hours in a day. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make the Earth spin a little slower, but not even Elon Musk has been able to do that. So I’m taking an impermament bow.
Respect Your Readers »
I love the holidays. We celebrate Christmas in my family, and for me this is the coziest, warmest, loveliest time of the year. We relax with every cell in our bodies (we really seriously do), enjoy the warmth of the house and the lights on the tree (got a potted tree this year), and we disconnect from the world outside. Completely. Oh, and we watched all ten episodes of the stunning MARCO POLO series on Netflix and then fell over when we realized we’d have to wait another YEAR (!!!) for Season 2.
So forgive me if I’m not my usual go-get’em-tiger-writing self. But hey, why fight it.
Point is, I thought I’d take a walk down TWP memory lane and pull out some of the best nuggets from my past blog posts, as a little post-holiday inspiration. What better way to start a new year than with an avalanche of writing practices, recommendations, musings, and vicarious suffering?
Writerly Wisdom for the Ages, 2015 edition »
We writers persuade readers all the time. This is the power we writers hold in our hands. As with any great power, comes great responsibility. If you are a writer of any kind, respect your power. Above all, be kind to all those restaurants with typos in their menus!
Let’s explore a few different ways to persuade our readers for today’s practice.
If You’re Not Writing Persuasively, You’re Not Writing »
No, not that kind of oil. Not cooking oil, although the man in this photo is using plenty of it. I refer to the Rembrandt-like quality of this photograph. I’ve been looking at this image for ten years. It is one of the most stunning naturally lit, completely undoctored, photographs I have seen in those ten years.
This photograph carries with it profound and poignant meaning beyond the simple act of making poori, beyond its composition, light, and saturated colors, beyond its timelessness. It carries the stories of a quarter million people who perished ten years ago in a violent natural cataclysm that devastated the shores of eleven countries. No doubt you know which event I’m referring to. Its tenth anniversary is coming up this December 26.
Today I’m sharing this image with you because I’d like you to write a story about it.
There’s oil on your computer screen (writing prompt) »
How do you dramatize non fiction? Isn’t real life already wild and crazy enough? And isn’t that why we have fiction in the first place, so that we can be superheroes and E.S.C.A.P.E. our dull routine realities?
Yes, and yes, BUT. The role of literature, in my and many other authors’ humble yet strong opinion, is to reflect social trends and preserve cultural ideals. To inform, inspire, and innovate. The stories we write and read shape our culture and society, our minds and our lives. This is why I insist with the ferocity of a Category 5 hurricane on quality, beauty, and impact.
The reason I write is to open minds—including my own. For me, the most potent way to do that is by mixing up fiction and real life. So let me tell you about The Visionary.
How to Dramatize Real Life in Your Writing »
Are you the kind of author who doesn’t give a damn about what your readers think, jealously avoiding all input and interference while you craft your magnum opus? Or the kind who endlessly revises, fretting over how people will react, integrating every form of feedback from everyone who’s ever read half a sentence in your book? Or are you perfectly confused about when to take in a constructive comment from a fellow writer or reader, and when to ignore it?
Fear not! You are one of a well-populated club. Bottom line, however: always, always listen to your readers.
Listen to Your Readers * »
Did you see the thrilling World Cup match between Colombia and Uruguay? Or the one between Argentina and Switzerland yesterday? Are you beside yourself to watch Colombia beat Brazil (my prediction) in the quarterfinals? I can barely breathe just thinking about it.
There are personal reasons why I’m cheering for Colombia, even though they do have THE BEST DANCE MOVES. But while we palpitate about the world’s best sporting event in the entire history of the entire human race, let us explore the uncanny parallels between the World Cup and what we’ll call the Writer’s Cup.
The Writer’s Cup: Why Writing and Soccer Are Soulmates »
Is your daily writing routine anything like mine? Waking up with first light, meeting the dawn with 15 minutes of power yoga, settling down on your sun-strewn patio with birds chirping and a fountain in the background, cup of hot chocolate and freshly baked croissants by your side, ready to begin an uninterrupted, and inspiringly productive, 4-hour writing session.
Right. How I wish.
Too often, the world’s best profession is practiced under far-less-than-ideal conditions. But, as they say, “Life does not put things in front of you that you are unable to handle.”
How to Write Through Duress »
Good things supposedly come in threes, right? Whatever your numerical fave is, grab all your literary vitamins because today’s Theme of the Day is STRENGTH.
Do you like your characters strong or weak? Powerful or vulnerable? Invincible or a push-over?
The answer lies, as in so many things, on the golden middle path.
Themes to Explore in Your Writing: Strength »
Last week, the world bid its farewell to a literary giant. Yet we have not lost him; he is still with us, his words still pulsing through his books, through our hearts, through our souls.
Gabriel García Márquez was a seed planted in a rich and painful time in Latin America’s history, that grew into a mighty oak. We are all his seedlings now.
Write Like the Masters: Gabriel García Márquez »
Have you ever built a house? Written a paper for debate club (or any class for that matter)? Prepared a presentation for a client or conference? Whatever the project, in order to transmit your ideas in a coherent and engaging manner, you need structure, you need emotional appeal, and you need a sense of narrative (yes, even houses tell stories!).
Welcome to the world of the Developmental Editor.
What is Developmental Editing and Why Should You Use It? »
A month ago, we took an hour and wrote about pain as a literary theme. Today’s theme is CONTROL. At times painful, at times rewarding, control is one of those elusive, dynamic, yet ever-present forces in human life. It shifts colors the way chameleons walk across the street. It mesmerizes deeper, faster, scarier than you can bungee jump. It prickles the skin and it haunts the psyche.
But control also gives you unimaginable freedom and possibility. Will you embrace it?
Theme of the Day: Control »
People who know me know I’m a big fan of sustainability. I walk the walk… literally: I walk instead of drive to many places, like the bank, the grocery store, the farmer’s market.
Problem with that is, if you don’t drive your car enough, your battery will die. Actually that’s not the full story. Your battery will die if you drive your car the wrong way.
That’s what the guys at my car dealership explained to me—but only during the second trip in with a jump-started car. I found out that if you make little short trips, that’s worse than if you don’t drive at all. Starting your engine requires a certain amount of power, and if you don’t drive long enough and at a high enough speed (at least 30mph) to replace the energy lost at start up and then some, the next time you start your engine your battery will drain a little more, and then a little more, till it’s sapped altogether.
Well, that’s great, Birgitte, you say, but you posted this in the wrong place. This isn’t Car & Driver, this is The Write Practice.
Turn Routine into Inspiration »
Some time ago, we did a speed writing session for one hour. Actually, compared to the usual 15-minute writing practices here, an hour might seem glacially slow. But we all know how fast an hour can speed by, especially when we’re wandering around aimlessly in the land of social media while our cursor blinks wistful and lonesome on our WIP in the background, buried multiple browser windows in.
Today, we’re going to do it again. But this time we have a theme. That theme is PAIN.
Before you click away from this page, worried that writing about pain will weigh down your bright and shiny day, think about it for a nanosecond. What is it that most great stories have? CONFLICT. TENSION. Antagonist (force) pushing the protagonist to evolve, grow, learn, progress, or erupt in gratuitous fill-in-the-blank.
Pain is part of conflict and part of life. Embrace it.
Theme of the Day: Pain »
While the annual frenzy of chocolate and roses that is St. Valentine’s Day runs its course, let’s talk about what no advertiser seems to get, and what every writer should: real romance.
Let’s get two things clear. One: romance isn’t sex. Sorry to disappoint if that’s what you thought this post was about. Two: most romance novels do not have a clue about the essence of the concept that defines their genre. (Two point a: this is not a post on how to write a romance novel.)
Put Some Real Romance Into Your Writing »
In my holiday post, I discussed the power of myth in storytelling. Today, I’m taking you with me to see how it’s done in a published novel. I recently spoke with Dr. Kenneth Atchity, the author of The Messiah Matrix. Classical scholar and Yale-educated professor of literature and classics as well as film producer, publisher, book reviewer, and literary agent, Dr. Atchity wears many hats—yet none perhaps as enthralling as that of author.
Myth in Fiction Intertwined: How One Author Wove His Tapestry »
Let’s talk about the weather. Most of us no doubt take it for granted… until it’s in our face. The weather determines what we wear and how we drive, influences our experience of sporting events, field trips and beach picnics, and impacts an extraordinary number of aspects of life from crops to airline flights.
So what does weather have to do with writing? Nothing. And everything.
Write With the Weather »
In my inaugural blog post for The Write Practice, I asked three key questions: who you are as a writer, where you’re going, and what you need. Today, on this first day of a bright new year, I would like to invite you to make a commitment.
A commitment to you the writer and your writing. A commitment to rediscovering why you write.
Why We Write »
We humans have been telling stories since we learned to talk. No doubt those tales that sent torrents of adrenaline through our veins also seared the strongest tracks in our memory, and were told and retold through generation after iPad-less generation. Indeed, the definition of myth is “a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.”
So where do you draw the line between a myth and a fictional story?
You don’t. You write one into the other.
Make Myth Your Muse »