Friday, December 21, 2018

Your Writing Life: The Benefits of an End-of-Year Review

Last year, I coached a business owner who was writing a book about his years as a wildly successful entrepreneur.  He attributed much of that success to his practice of regularly stepping back to review of how he was doing.  He did this weekly, taking an hour or so to write down what he'd accomplished or realized or changed in his business procedures, how he worked with employees or clients, what he'd learned along the way, as well as the next week's priorities.  

I was intrigued.  I'd always enjoyed setting goals but rarely did I take time to acknowledge where I'd been.  So I began testing out this practice.  For one year, I chose an hour each weekend to list what I'd realized about my writing life.  

Friday, December 14, 2018

Writing through Trauma: Two Published Memoirists Share Their Experiences with Writing and Finishing Their Books

Two of my past students released new books this year.  Katherine Dering, of New York, launched her second memoir, Aftermath, and Judith Mattison, of Minnesota, published her first, I Will Not Break.  Both write about trauma, Katherine about grave mental illness and loss and Judie about abuse.  Not easy subjects, so this week I interviewed each of them about their journey through writing these books, how they mined their difficult subjects, and how they took care of themselves during the process. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Facing Writer's Block: Words of Wisdom from George Saunders

Some writers don't believe in writer's block--that stall out, mind- and spirit-numbing experience that occasionally visits us when we're plowing ahead on a book deadline or trying to bring a new character to life.  But I do.  I've had it, I've coached dozens of writers through it, and it's a real phenomenon.  

Recently, I read a wonderful interview in Lit Hub on the writer George Saunders.  You might be a great fan of Saunders, as I am (his collection of stories, Tenth of December, is some of the quirkiest, most amazing writing I've ever read), or his fiction might be new to you.  His opinion about writer's block is equally inspiring.  It's a bar set too high, he says.  It's about the writer, not the writing.  Always.

Ira Glass, the well-known host and producer of "This American Life," speaks of it as the distance between our taste and our abilities: