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Do Writers Need to Keep Our Butts in the Chair?


In 1937, Sinclair Lewis shared his version of an often repeated and often reworded bit of writerly wisdom: And as the recipe for writing, all writing, I remember no high-flown counsel but always and only Mary Heaton Vorse’s jibe, delivered to a bunch of young and mostly incompetent hopefuls back in 1911: ‘The art of […]

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Only Writing Is Writing, Right? Wrong!


When E. L. Doctorow observed that planning to write, outlining, researching or talking about you’re going to write is NOT writing, I think he meant we can’t just hope to write or dream about writing, we have to take action. Unfortunately, many of my students and clients have interpreted that mindset (wherever they know the […]

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Don’t Let Logic Eclipse Your Creative Writing


You know, of course, that stars don’t “come out” at night. They are always there emitting the same amount of light all day, all night. We just can’t see the stars until the sun “sets,” or more correctly, until the part of the planet you’re standing on rotates away from the sun enough to escape […]

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Writers’ Brains Require Random Input


“Where did that come from?” Usually I’m so enthralled by fresh ideas, images, insights and plot points, I immediately focus on weaving them into the story. I’m so busy figuring out where to go with those ideas and images, I don’t notice where they came from. For example, I couldn’t tell you why the leaves […]

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Do Writers Have to Polish the Occasional Turd?


“I’ve been polishing turds,” I confessed to my co-coach Laura. “I spent weeks revising and tweaking and polishing the last five chapters. Then I realized I don’t even need two of them.” “Could you have gotten here without polishing those chapters?” Laura asked. I didn’t answer right away. I grudgingly admitted that I probably could […]

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If It Works for Stephen King, Shouldn’t It Work for Me?


Writers often look to famous authors for role models. We assume that whatever routine works (or worked) for a famous writer should work for every writer. If Stephen King writes 2,000 words a day, 365 days a year, every writer should write 2,000 words a day, 365 days a year. The problem is that what […]

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What Else Looks Like Writer’s Block But Isn’t


The gap between finishing one writing project and starting the next can look like writer’s block. It’s not. The contrast can be startling. You were focused and engaged, busy drafting, revising and polishing. You rightfully felt proud of your effort and gratified with the result. Then suddenly, you’re not. Not doing anything apparently. What’s wrong […]

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Looks Like Writer’s Block, But It’s Not


One of the things commonly mistaken for writer’s block is simple unpreparedness. You’re not writing because you’re not ready to write. How many steps do you think there are between getting a great idea and writing? It’s more than you think. Go ahead and list the steps for yourself. Then come back and we’ll compare […]

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So You’re a Frustrated Writer… Are You Frustrated Enough?


If you’re struggling to find a clever transition or the structure for your book, if you’d kill for a killer plot twist or the perfect word, you’re in luck! If you’re frustrated, stymied and stuck, congratulations! Frustration is a sign you are on the verge of a breakthrough. Frustration is not just an unpleasant side […]

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Writer’s Naptime or Craptime?


“Everything stinks until it’s done.” – Dr. Seuss You may have heard me say (or read my post) that to write well, you have to be willing to write badly. But do you know when to write badly? Writer’s Craptime Writing badly is what Anne Lamont calls the Sh*tty First Draft, Marla Beck calls the […]

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