Saturday, August 28, 2010

Creative Tension and Sharing Our Work--Is It Time or Is It Premature?

A reader from Minnesota sent me a good question.  She'd taken my two-day book writing workshop at the Loft Literary Center in July, and I talked about the value of writers' groups, how they help support the book-writing journey.  She wanted to know more about that.

"I'd like to continue working on my book on my own," she emailed me, "and I still have a lot of 'islands' to write. You talked a little bit about writers groups and I was wondering how one goes about choosing/ finding a group? I haven't been involved in such a group since

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dilemma in Three Acts--Story Arcs and the Big W

Almost the end of August, and the leaves are starting to change color here in New England.  I'm getting my teaching notes together for my new classes in September.  This year my classes are both virtual (online) and in person.  Both have me thinking about story arcs again.

August was a writing month for me.  I've been working on finishing my book about book-writing, Your Book Starts Here, which will be available later this year, and on editing the final act of my novel-in-progress, Breathing Room.  

Both books are built with the three-act structure of story arc that I teach in my workshops and classes.  I call it the big W.  It's a system that's

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Writing with Images or Writing with Words? Learn the Difference in Effect on Your Reader

One spring I took a month-long writing retreat. I went to a beautiful lake at the edge of the mountains and stayed by myself in a comfortable cabin. I was excited about all this time I had to write. I brought a pile of “stuck” writing to work on—I had a novel in a final draft, ready for revision.

On warm days I set my writing desk on the cabin’s wrap-around porch. From there, I had a great view of the lake, the blue sky. Birds skimmed the small garden, looking for bugs. Cedars swayed in the wind off the mountains.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Revision--How Do You See Your Own Writing from a Different Viewpoint?

Writers who lock onto one picture of their books, holding it fast, being unwilling to adjust as they receive new insights, rarely publish. Their books stay limited in the limited vision of early drafts.

Revising happens. It must, before publishing. So "re-visioning" requires looking anew, looking deeper, with a different viewpoint. The reader's viewpoint. What will the reader make of the words you've chosen, the images you're painting?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Writing Retreats--What Happens When You Are Alone with Your Creativity

I was alone with my writing this week.  So were fourteen other writers (see us in the photo at left).  We retreated to a beautiful restored farm on an island in the middle of Lake Superior, to dive deeply into our books.  Each of us was hoping to surface with new understandings.  Maybe new maps.     

Writers who take on a book learn that it is always connected to their lives, some way, somehow.  Even if the story is about another planet.  Even if the writer is making it all up.  We can't write completely outside of who we are, especially when we're spending 300 pages doing so.  This means we must face ourselves squarely, look at our motivation for our project, as well as any oh-so-personal obstacles to getting there.

It requires being alone with our creativity.  Writing retreats are great places for this to happen.

Necessary Boredom
Part of the luxury of a writing retreat is being able to slow down.  Madeline Island is