After about a year of contributing to The Write Practice, today’s post is my last one.
With a new baby due to arrive in the next couple of weeks, I’m wrapping up my time as a regular contributor—and as with any turning point, it feels like a good time to reflect on what I’ve learned.
What I’ve Learned from Writing for The Write Practice »
As I write this, I’m one month away from my due date, the estimated arrival of my husband’s and my first child. At many points in life, we are in a state of looking forward. Anticipation of an event—whether it’s a joyous or devastating one—puts everything in a new perspective. It heightens your awareness, incites excitement or anxiety (or both!), and brings up a lot of emotions.
Whether you’re crafting a fictional story or recounting your own experience, how do you write about a time of anticipation in a realistic, compelling way?
How to Write about a Time of Anticipation »
I’m not a big traveler. If I want to take a trip, it’s usually to visit family or friends—or to soak up the sun on a beach. Backpack across Europe? Adventure through nature? Not exactly my idea of a vacation. Taking a road trip? Navigating the airport? I usually find it boring, annoying, or downright awful.
But lately, I’ve been thinking about the idea of a journey. Travel is more than just the destination. The process of getting somewhere is often rich with new and memorable experiences. And it has the power to transform us—or in the case of our stories, it’s an opportunity for our characters to reach a turning point, learn, and grow.
How to Integrate Travel into a Story »
Some days, writing is easy. The words flow effortlessly and quickly. You walk away feeling a sense of accomplishment and pride.
Other days, writing is hard. Each sentence takes time, making it onto the page in fits and starts. You do what you can and contemplate deleting it all in the end.
So why do we write? What is the most satisfying part of writing—that part that brings you back to the computer or paper time after time, no matter how challenging the process feels?
What is the Most Satisfying Part of Writing? »
If your writing seems a little dull, tap into this easy trick—focus on the verbs. Using direct, precise, and active verbs instantly makes your writing stronger.
These verbs move your story forward, create powerful imagery, and convey a confident tone.
Energize Your Writing with this Easy Trick »
Some people think writing about everyday occurrences is uninteresting. But I like to believe that the everyday is what connects writers with readers, as human beings who share a common or not-so-common world.
What is it about the everyday—the small details, the routines and rituals—that resonates so deeply?
Why You Should Write about the Everyday »
You know that well-worn, well-loved book that you’ve read many times? Simply turning to the first page and reading the opening line brings you into the story. And when you reach that final page and the very last sentence, the story melts away, leaving you content—or perhaps wanting just a bit more.
An intriguing beginning and a strong ending act as bookends to any good story. So how do you craft memorable first and last lines?
How to Write a Memorable Beginning and Ending »
We all experience fear from time to time. But what about those things that truly terrify us, those situations that may not even ever happen? Our fear may not always be rational, but this deep-rooted emotion is a powerful tension to insert into our writing.
Because fear is not something we enjoy feeling, it is also often uncomfortable to write about—which is what makes the end result fascinating.
Here are some things to keep in mind when writing about fear:
Write About What Scares You »
As much as I’m eager for the arrival of spring—with its longer days and warmer temperatures—the jump forward due to Daylight Saving Time this weekend means we lost an hour of time.
These days, every minute seems precious. With so many commitments, activities, and demands on our time, it’s difficult to carve out a small window for doing what we love. (And sometimes when that time pops up, we may not be in the mood to write—because let’s be honest, writing isn’t always easy!).
How can we find time to write? And how do we make the most of that time?
How to Find Time to Write »
I took a poetry class to fulfill one of my workshop requirements for my master’s in Writing and Publishing. Although I didn’t have much prior experience with poetry beyond some teenage scribbles, I discovered a new way of playing with language.
And in the process, I also realized writing poetry helped me to write better, stronger prose. Here are four things I learned about poetry that apply to writing prose:
What Poetry Teaches Us about Writing Prose »
Valentine’s Day is one of those love-hate holidays, but no matter how you feel about this week’s special day, the theme of love provides endless inspiration for writing.
There are many types of love stories—ones about first love, second-chance love, forbidden love, unrequited love. But what is it about first love that makes such an impact on us, both in our real-life experiences and in written form?
Why People Love Stories about First Love »
First person and third person—you’ve been there, done that. But what about writing in second person? It may seem strange, unconventional, or confining, but playing with point of view is one way to transform a story.
Point of view affects a story in that it allows readers to gain a very specific perspective. The second person is no different. Here are three reasons why you should try writing in second person:
Why You Should Try Writing in Second Person »
Have you ever had one of those encounters in which someone says something and you are rendered speechless? After the dust settles and you’ve parted ways, you come up with at least half a dozen appropriate (or not so appropriate) responses.
Hindsight is 20/20, they say. But in writing, we all have a chance to relive conversations, confrontations, interactions, and situations—and change the outcome. Through the magic of fiction, we have the opportunity to do what we wish we had done.
Here’s Your Chance to Rewrite the Past »
Conflict is a necessary ingredient for creating an intriguing story. And conflict is an inevitable part of life. Disappointment, sadness, sickness, and death plague us at different points in time and in different ways.
We all have methods of coping with what we don’t understand, of dealing with painful situations in our lives. One therapeutic technique that helps us heal in times of confusion, broken hearts, and deepest loss is simple but so very powerful—writing.
How Writing Helps Us Heal »
We’ve all read stories that keep us enthralled the whole way through. The plot captivates us, and the characters tug at our hearts.
And then there are the stories that we easily put down after several pages or a couple of chapters. We don’t relate to or care about the characters, and the plot doesn’t hold our interest.
How do you write a story that keeps readers completely invested?
How to Completely Captivate Your Readers »
It takes 21-28 days to create a new habit—though some research has found it takes as many as 66 days. It takes 10,000 hours to become a “master” at something complex—hence the reason we have a resource like The Write Practice.
But when starting an exercise program, they say it’s important to schedule “rest days” so your body has time to rebuild and grow stronger. Skipping those rest days only leads to injury and burn-out.
So what does that mean for writing?
Why You Should Take a Day Off from Writing »
The best part about Daylight Saving Time in the fall is that extra hour we receive. Twenty-five hours in one day. A dream come true, right?
And while you may not realize it, that extra hour offers a prime time to tap into your imagination—without any effort on your part. That’s right—it’s possible to generate ideas in your sleep.
Whether they’re realistic or completely fantastical, dreams are a wonderful source for unique story ideas. You simply have to realize their creative potential. Here are a few ways to mine your dreams for your next big idea:
How to Generate Ideas in Your Sleep »
Stories teach us, inspire us, and allow us to experience worlds we would not otherwise know. We learn about each other through sharing stories. We watch stories unfold on TV and in movies, read stories in books and magazines, and tell each other stories about our days, our childhoods, our travels.
Two weeks ago, I attended a panel presentation called “Storytellers: The Power of Perspective” during Chicago Ideas Week. While listening to the speakers, I was inspired by their different perspectives on storytelling—where they find inspiration, how they communicate stories, why they think stories are important and need to be told.
If you want to explore a new style of storytelling, here are six creative approaches to try:
6 Ways to Shake Up Your Storytelling Style »
At a wedding reception recently, the DJ played a song that was straight from my high school days. My friends and I danced along and laughed at the lyrics, but the music brought me back in time to all those high school dances.
The guys would come up with elaborate ways to ask their dates to the dance. The girls would shop for the perfect dress. We’d make plans to get together for a group dinner beforehand. And finally, we’d dance all night long (well, until 11 pm), letting loose with that freedom only 16-year-olds can experience.
So many times, I’ve heard a song on the radio, on a commercial, during a movie, or on my iPod and found myself transported to another place and time. The lyrics and the melody remind me of a moment I’ve experienced, a memory I haven’t recalled for ages, and I’ll feel everything that I felt back then.
Music has the ability to move us—our memories and our imaginations. Here’s how to channel that power into inspiration for your writing:
How to Use Music as Writing Inspiration »
A few years ago, when Sex and the City: The Movie came out, many reviews referenced New York City as the “fifth character”—an element of the storyline that was just as important as Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda.
When writing stories—especially character-driven ones—we focus on the protagonist, the main characters and secondary characters, their backgrounds and motivations. We focus on conflict, what the characters want and what stands in the way.
But sometimes that means we forget to write about the setting, a crucial part of creating a strong story.
Don’t Leave Your Characters in Limbo »