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“Tis the season . . . NaNoWriMo

‘Tis the season for NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month is held during the month of November. Have you ever done it? Have you thought about it and wondered if you could or should do it? I say: Go for it! What do you have to lose? And, you might gain some excellent writing. “National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days.”  Sharon Oard Warner says “A work of fiction that logs in at 50,000 words is actually a novella . . .” So, if the idea of writing a novel is overwhelming, consider writing a novella. Prepare for NaNoWriMo Julie Artz writes about her NaNoWriMo experience on Jane Friedman’s blog, “Want to Win NaNoWriMo? The Secret is Preparation.” Learn from her mistakes to get “that coveted NaNoWriMo win.” Prolific author Bella Andre wrote about her struggles…

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I knew I wanted to write . . .

Natalie Goldberg The Art Of Writing Practice: “By my early twenties, I knew I wanted to write and I knew I couldn’t learn to do it through traditional writing classes. I had to begin with what I knew, something no one could tell me I was wrong about. And so, I studied my mind. As I wrote, I would discover things about my mind, how it would move, wander, settle. I began teaching writing from the inside out. Usually, writing teachers tell us what good writing is, but not how to get to it . . . in 1986 [when “Writing Down The Bones” was published] people were starving to write, but they didn’t know how, because the way writing was taught didn’t work for them. I think the idea of writing as a practice freed them up. It meant that they could trust their minds, that they were allowed…

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Just Do It

Do it! Do it in secret or in the open, do it with your heart. Share what you care to share and process the rest into more writing, or painting, or dancing, or living your everyday life. Don’t worry too much about a final product, there isn’t one, even when you call a piece done and, say, publish it. It could always be refined, rewritten. Get on to something and pursue it as many times, in as many ways as it takes it for you to feel done with it—for a while, at least—decide if and what you want to share, when and how, and start a new one. Christine Renaudin lives, writes, and paints in Petaluma, CA. She is also a dancer and performs occasionally in the Bay Area. She likes to mix art forms and makes a living teaching literature, creativity, and performance. Originally published in The Write…

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We are all storytellers.

“We are all storytellers. We are constantly telling each other about our lives—what happened to us. What we saw, what we thought. We share news of dramatic events in our lives and the lives of our friends. We tell jokes. We share dreams and memories. Starting with these kinds of ‘tellings’ can be a good way to begin our practice of writing stories.” —The Writer’s Path: A Guidebook for Your Creative Journey : Exercises, Essays, and Examples by Todd Walton and Mindy Toomay More books on writing.

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Reading Nook

Reading is part of writing. Read to become a better writer, to be entertained, and to learn. Finding a special place to read is divine. Today’s post is inspired by Evan Dunn, writer at Porch.com. and inspired by the concept of Hygge. Excepted from Evan’s article about creating a Reading Nook: If you love to curl up with your favorite books, a Reading Nook can be the perfect way to enjoy this beloved pastime. From nonfiction books to thrillers and romance novels, reading is one of the best ways to relax and escape from the stresses of everyday living. If you’re thinking about creating your own Reading Nook, read on for some tips and tricks that will inspire you to craft a perfect reading space. Why Create a Reading Space? For those who have a habit of reading often, creating your own special space will make it even more enjoyable. There are lots…

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Personal Essay – Pivotal Event Plus . . .

A personal essay isn’t your life story. It’s a pivotal event. The narrator has an epiphany, or is changed at the end of the story. “Personal essays represent what you think, what you feel . . . your effort to communicate those thoughts and feelings to others . . . What is the point of your essay? Don’t belabor the point too much; let the point grow out of the experience of the essay. It might be true, in fact, that you didn’t even have a point to make when you started writing your essay. Go ahead and write it and see if a point develops.” — The Personal Essay More on personal essay: How to Write a Personal Essay Writing Personal Essays Personal Essay is Memoir in Short Form Still don’t know how to start? Gather your writing implements: Paper, pen, pencil, writing device, choose a writing prompt and…

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Using a book as your how-to textbook.

Choose a book you like and in the genre you want to write as your how-to-write manual. For example, Maiden Voyage, a memoir by Tania Aebi: Aebi starts her story on her 37th day at sea, at a point when she is terrified. Rather than give us the back story of how all this began, she starts at a high action point. She describes her immediate situation: Because of strong winds and choppy waves, she hasn’t been able to eat, sleep, relax, or think. We get the sense of imminent danger. And then, to build suspense and tension, she reveals, “The weather can only get worse.” We hear a little about her emotional and mental state. She wants to go home to her family. ALL this, on the first page. Still on page 1, we get a “visual” – seeing her as she gets into her foul weather gear. There…

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First line and Write Towards What You Want To Know

Opening lines of books are so important, as you know. First lines should draw the reader in and inspire the reader to keep reading. Thanks to a book club friend who sent Colum McCann’s article to me, excerpted below. I also like his take on “write what you know.” Colum McCann: A first line should open up your rib cage. It should reach in and twist your heart backward. It should suggest that the world will never be the same again. The opening salvo should be active. It should plunge your reader into something urgent, interesting, informative. It should move your story, your poem, your play, forward. It should whisper in your reader’s ear that everything is about to change. But take it easy too. Don’t stuff the world into your first page. Achieve a balance. Let the story unfold. Think of it as a doorway. Once you get your…

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How to Write a Personal Essay

We aren’t born knowing how to write personal essays. So, how does one learn to write personal essays? The following is inspired from “A Few Tips for Writing Personal Essays,” by Robert Lee Brewer, March/April 2021 Writer’s Digest. Read personal essays! Then write. You will discover your style as you write. ~ Start with action. Save backstory for later in the essay. The beginning should have a compelling scene that hooks readers and makes them want to continue reading. The following is an example of “start with action.” The hook compelled me to read the entire essay. “When he walked into a San Francisco barbershop after the war, he was told by the owner, ‘We don’t serve Japs here.’ The owner of the barbershop obviously didn’t know who the one-armed Japanese-American was – his name was Daniel Inouye. And, according to one website that honors heroes, he was one tough…

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Real Names in Memoir?

When writing memoir, the question often comes up, should you use real names? There are no cookie-cutter answers. No one-size-fits-all. In “Between Two Kingdoms” Suleika Jaouad handled the situation by stating in the front of the book, “To preserve the anonymity of certain individuals, I modified identifying details and changed the following names, listed in alphabetical order: Dennis, Estelle, Jake, Joanie, Karen, Sean, and Will.” Tara Westover, author of “Educated,” changed the first name of her parents and siblings. Phuc Tran, author of “Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In” decided to keep “the real names of all adults and changed the names of minors not related to him and adult names he forgot. He said his ‘tenuous’ relationship with his parents meant he didn’t care about their opinions and made his book easier to write, noting, ‘I wrote without worrying…