The keys to successful life writing

There has been a huge growth in life writing and memoirs over the past decade. Suddenly it’s not just the famous who are worth reading about. People who have done amazing things or suffered horrific life experiences have written their stories (sometimes with help) and published them. Readership has also grown. Why do readers love life writing? We love stories. Many people love fiction more than “real life”, but still, a story is a story. We love to feel we are not alone, and we like to read … [Read more...]

The DPR of writing – Perseverance

Over my 20+ years of teaching creative writing, I’ve seen a lot of talented writers. There are usually a couple in every class, students whose writing I look forward to reading, and who actively welcome workshopping and feedback. And yet I have also learned that even the most talented may not have the perseverance to keep writing, no matter what. What does no matter what mean? Well, to me it means to keep writing despite rejections, obviously. When you are sending out stories and poems and … [Read more...]

Discipline and your writing

For many new writers, the idea of applying discipline to their writing is like applying a whip. Who can write under a whip, they protest. It would kill my inspiration! But sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike will eventually kill your writing career. (Notice I said career – if you want to write purely for enjoyment, go for it!) Any writer who has a list of publications will tell you that it can only be achieved by discipline. You may write one or two stories, a handful of poems, a … [Read more...]

Why is Point of View important?

For a long time, writers commonly used a point of view that we now most often call omniscient (also called eye of god or camera). It was the POV that saw everything, often in great detail, and rather than dwell on one character, took us into every major character in the story. There was a lot of setting, a lot of authorial intrusion (the author explaining stuff to the reader in various ways) and even times where the reader was directly addressed. More and more now, stories are told in … [Read more...]

Does writer’s block really exist?

Where does writer’s block come from? Why do so many writers complain about it? What does it really mean? I remember someone saying one day, “If I employed a plumber to fix my bathroom pipes, I doubt he’d ever say he had plumber’s block and couldn’t do the job!” That’s true, but there are a couple of extra elements to the plumber and his pipes. One is that it’s his job and if he doesn’t fix those pipes, he doesn’t get paid. Another is that although he might have to get creative to fix the … [Read more...]

Why join a writers’ group?

In these days of “interaction everywhere”, mostly online or via mobile phones, the idea of a writer tucked away in a lonely garret is appealing. Peace, quiet, focus, no internet. And the truth is, a writer still needs to be alone to write. Alone inside their head. And to get that alone-ness, you often do need total solitude. I find I can write in cafes these days – there is something about general chatter that is easy to cut off from. Chatter from a spouse or child is a different matter! But … [Read more...]

Writing is easy

Writing is easy. And writing is hard, really hard. I sound like I’m contradicting myself, but it’s true. Some parts of writing are easy for some people, and some parts are hard. I love first drafts, and find them easy. I type fast, and I think through the story and characters when I’m not actually typing, so that when I sit down at the keyboard, the words come fast and usually fairly easily. Rewriting is hard for me. This is when I lose faith in my words, wondering how, if they came so … [Read more...]