I’m always adding links to my Writers’ Resources page, so every now and then I like to highlight some of the new resources I’ve discovered, along with an old favorite or two.
I may not make New Year’s resolutions, but around the first of every year I’m always on the lookout for posts that give me a good kick in my writerly ass and get me working. A few posts in particular stood out to me this December and January, Chuck Wendig’s “How to Motivate Yourself as a Writer” among them. In fact, I love that post so much that I wrote my own post about it. I reread both his post and mine periodically to remind myself to stop whining and start writing.
One of my greatest fears as a writer is that someday I’ll have nothing left to say (probably a shocker to those of you who know first-hand how hard it is to shut me up). Robin Black, author of two acclaimed books, the short story collection If I Loved You I Would Tell You This, and the novel Life Drawing, addresses this fear in the beautiful post “On Being Empty: When a Writer Isn’t Writing.” Robin rejects the notion of writer’s block. Instead, when she finds herself with nothing to write about, she imagines the place insider herself where stories usually reside as an empty receptacle waiting to be refilled:
The distinction matters to me. Emotionally. If I imagine myself blocked, it feels like a disorder of some kind. It worries me. But if I imagine that there is a chamber, always there, a space my imagination fills sometimes, and sometimes does not fill, it feels to me more like a process. Maybe even a natural process.
Robin’s post takes the fear out of feeling creatively empty by noting how normal it is to feel this way, how the creative process is regenerative and requires fallow periods to restore imaginative fertility.
Another good motivator is Kim Triedman’s “Journaling 101: Getting Back to Basics,” which espouses the benefits of journaling every day to keep the creative writing muscles supple and fit. There’s also Rachel Toor’s “The Habits of Highly Productive Writers,” which lays out some techniques enlisted by highly productive writers to keep themselves writing, including, among others:
All of these posts are listed with other posts about craft and writing inspiration under the category Advice: Craft Advice on my Writers’ Resources page.
As the submission season continues, I’ve discovered yet more resources to help you expand your list of lit mags that you want to read and submit to:
When it comes to lit mags, I suggest that you use this advice sparingly, since the lit mag world is small and editors are overworked and tend to have tight publication schedules, so making them wait for an answer could potentially cast you in a negative light and earn you a reputation as difficult to work with. Still, as long as you’re polite and professional, ask for what you need if you’re on the fence about whether a magazine is the exact right fit for your story.
You can find these and other posts about submitting and publishing under the category Advice: Submission and Publishing Advice on the Writers’ Resources page.
As I discussed in “You’ll Never Guess What Happens Next,” writing a convincing plot that feels well motivated and driven by the characters’ deepest desires and fears can be a difficult task. In her post, “A Criminal Plot,” Kathy Crowley discusses what she’s learned about writing an excellent, taut plot from reading great crime fiction. She points out that, contrary to popular belief, good crime fiction isn’t just about plot but rather it integrates plot into character. Just like any great fiction, the best crime fiction is character driven and employs some basic strategies to ensure that character and plot go hand-in-hand. One of the most helpful strategies that Kathy enumerates is that a good crime writer–in fact, any good writer–uses “unusual circumstances and strong plot points to deepen her characters.”
One of my students, who writes great dialogue, was struggling with too much of a good thing: his stories were becoming so overrun with dialogue that the characters’ actions and reactions were taking a back seat, making his stories feel too inactive and muted. He asked me to direct him to some posts about how to use dialogue more effectively. Here are a few of the ones I recommended:
You can find these and similar posts under the category Advice: Craft Advice on my Writers’ Resources page.
The more I explore this blogging thing that I’ve undertaken, the more I realize that I’ve got to research and study the craft of blogging just as intensively as I have the craft of fiction writing. And so I’m slowly but surely adding to my Blogging Tips category with posts like these:
If you have suggestions about articles you’d like me to add, or topics you’d like me to research and report back on, or a more helpful way to organize the page, please feel free to add a comment below or to contact me through my Contact page.
Remember, I’m here to help!
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