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Competence and Good Boy Syndrome

You get competent by following the rules.  You learned to read and write by following the rules of the classroom. You learned how to play the piano by practicing scales. You got your BA in English by putting semicolons in the right places and by seeing the right things in the same books everybody else was reading. We… Read more »

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Get a Bad Haircut

Get an ugly haircut the day before you start a big project, one you wouldn’t want to be seen with in public. This will make it easier to follow the first commandment of writing and glue thy ass to the chair . I’m currently sporting an overgrown buzz cut like Sid Phillips from Toy Story.    

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Roald Dahl’s 7 Qualities of a Fiction Writer

In his collection, the Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, Roald Dahl lays down the seven qualities “you should posses or try to acquire if you wish to become a fiction writer.” They are as follows: You should have a lively imagination.  You should be able to write well. By that I mean you should be… Read more »

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Comma Story

We interrupt our regular programing to bring you a public service announcement from TED. 

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“Put your A** where your Heart Wants to be.”

In an interview with Oprah, Steven Pressfield reminds artists to remain seated.  …put your ass where your heart wants to be. And by that I simply mean: if you want to paint, put your body in front of an easel, if you want to write, sit in front of a keyboard. And then just plunge in. … Read more »

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What You’re Doing Right

Knowing what you’re doing right can be just as valuable as knowing what you’re doing wrong. But your inner-bully doesn’t see it that way. 

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Take a Break from Punctuation

Do like Cormac McCarthy and work with only comas and periods for a while. Maybe take something you’ve already written and rewrite it without all those “weird little marks,” as he calls them.    Watch your sentences become cleaner and tighter. It’s easier to listen to your drafts doing it this way, to make music with your words rather than… Read more »

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Story Sunday

It’s easy for the heavy lifting of plot to make you sore and put you on the bench for a few days. The trouble of “what next?” or how to make your set ups pay off can easily become a series of blocks and lost days coinciding with the beats in your story. This is… Read more »