Seven Questions Every Writer Should Be Ready To Answer

The joy of finishing your story, the bliss of an acceptance, the struggle to write your bio. Yay! You’re done.

Wait! You’re not done. There’s more….

Just when you think you have a story nicely wrapped up, and have moved on to other things, you get an email asking you to answer a few questions.

These questions Continue reading

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Every Story Has Its Seasons: Fall Clean-Up

Spring – seeds of your first ideas, images, characters, plotlines send up green shoots!

Summer – the story blossoms, flowers and weeds alike.

Fall…

Fall. I’m working on my earth pond, pulling out invasive weeds and dredging stinky sludge and algae. I check every scoop for frogs and salamanders so it’s slow work. And it’s hard work too. The huge pond rake becomes even heavier when dragged through water.

If I don’t do this, the inlet pipe gets clogged up and the pond becomes cloudy with silt and will eventually fill up and return to the mosquito-infested swamp it once was.

salamander in netEarly fall is a good time for a pond clean-up.The frogs and salamanders I disturb are able to swim away and dig themselves into the mud again. If I leave it till later, when it’s much colder, they can be very sluggish and I worry about whether they’ll survive.

Dredge too early, in the spring, and the frogspawn and young salamanders will be destroyed.

Just like with the earth pond, fall is the optimum time for cleaning up a story! This is the time when a story’s process, motivations, scenes, points of view have become overgrown or tangled up in other weedy storylines, or even died off and disappeared into the undergrowth. Continue reading

Writer’s Process: Curiosity And The Contagion Of Looking

Dominion Building, MontrealMy story isn’t working. There are too many characters, too many events. Too much back story. I’ve lost the road map and driven into a swamp.

I need to take a breather. Time for a field trip.

“The brass elevator doors in the Dominion Square Building,” suggests a poet friend.

Go look at an elevator door? Really? Continue reading

Constraints And Creativity: A Coffee Break Writing Challenge

Want a fun writing challenge for your coffee break this morning?

Here’s a prompt that will put a sparkle in your synapses and a skip in your step.

Author Sharon Callaghan* came up with it for Greene Writers this week. Impossible, no way, you’re joking, we said. The boundaries seemed just too restrictive. But we were bowled over by what we produced.

Teachers of creative movement learn quickly that constraints help creativity. If you say “OK, so go ahead and make a dance” students talk and yawn, and can hardly get themselves up from the floor. If you say “Make a dance in which you cannot move from the spot, using only three parts of your body” there is the usual resistance for a couple of minutes, then you see only intense focus, concentration and energy…and exciting idiosyncratic, dynamic and Continue reading

Writing Fiction, Tempting Fate?

chimneyDo you ever worry about tempting fate when you write fiction?

That if you write about x, about something nasty happening, maybe something especially nasty, you might be putting an idea or vibration out into the universe and so that something nasty will actually come to be?

Sounds crazy, I know, but I worry!

Trouble is, there’s not a whole lot of interesting things to write about if you cut out anything negative or unpleasant! Right at the beginning of Continue reading

Go Squeeze Words

pencils rich in wordsDo you read what artists in other disciplines are writing about?

I am always surprised by how helpful blogs and books about photography or visual arts or theater (or any art form) can be for my own writing or movement creativity.

“Think like a painter. Think like a musician. Think like a surgeon. Don’t think, just write.”  Lisa Moore (Prism International, 2009)

I’ve been receiving ideas, advice, inspiration and encouragement from artist Robert Genn’s always entertaining twice-weekly newsletters for years. His recent passing will be a great loss to those who enjoyed his writings, paintings and teaching.

His daughter Sara, also a visual artist, is picking up the torch and continuing her father’s newsletter tradition. In last week’s newsletter she celebrated her father with a moving and inspiring tribute.

Robert Genn was a master of pithy quotations. One in particular that Sara shared, snagged my attention: Continue reading

5 Things Not To Do When Your Writing Gets Stuck

Vortexit II, Bill Vazan, Réné-Lévesque Park, Lachine, QC

What’s the first thing you do when your writing gets stuck? After drinking coffee and eating chocolate, of course.

Recent comments by Canada’s Prime Minister and Finance Minister insisting they won’t change their plans for pushing forward with the Northern Gateway oil-sands pipeline despite fierce opposition provide useful insight into what not to do if you find your writing project stuck.

Continue reading