Posts Tagged ‘writing tips’
I’m sharing more about the magic of the AROHO writing retreat that happened almost one month ago. In the afternoons during the AROHO writing retreat, participants got to hear various writers discuss and riff off of the touchstone books thematically guiding the retreat: Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior. The Woman Warrior at its core is about mother and daughter relationships and secrets. The presenters provided insights, read creative work, shared scholarly essays, tributes and everything in between when talking about these two texts. One of the speakers was Tania Pryputniewicz, a poet, who also writes a lot about motherhood and the creative process. She shared with us an incredibly powerful exercise designed to help us reflect on the nature of the secrets our mothers kept and secrets we’ve kept from them. I am re-blogging her wonderful post where she elaborates on her relationship to The Woman Warrior and shares this exercise in full. She is also calling for guests posts based on her exercise.
Mothers and Daughters: Secret Catharsis in Woman Warrior (and a Secret Door Writing Exercise for You)
“You must not tell anyone,” my mother said, “what I am about to tell you.” So opens Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, from the first section of the book, titled, “No Name Woman.” So begins the re-telling of a family secret, where the story of the No Name Aunt moves out to haunt a much wider audience of mothers and daughters. The irony is not lost on us that the narrator, at the outset, in sentence one, is engaged in the act of disobeying her mother.
Many of us would agree that mother/daughter relationships are at one time or another fraught with complicated emotional, psychological narratives and emotional withholdings. But these same complications often come with hidden gifts.
read the full post here
Last week, I wrote about the lovely time I had at the ‘Love and Lonely Writer’ Valentine’s Day reading being featured with Marjorie Hudson.
One of the questions I asked Marjorie was ‘what would you do differently now if you were just starting a writing career?’ She said among other things, she’d be less shy about announcing herself as a writer. And, she’d also let go of the inner fear of ‘not being good enough’ a lot quicker.
She then asked me the same question. I didn’t expect this for some reason and so I answered it quickly. I said that I would have joined a writing group and sought community a lot sooner.
Although what I offered was true, I felt I left something else important unsaid. And, this unsaid thing has nagged at me for the past week.
Here is what I wished I would have said:
I wish I would have realized earlier that there is no one path to being a writer or embodying a writing life. Some people take years rowing across acidic lakes of self-doubt before getting the courage to write a single word. Some people come to writing because they have a great idea and want to express it and know little about craft or technique. Others have always dreamed of being writers and feel it deep in their bones. Some writers come to writing after retirement. Some want to make lots of money with their writing and others just want to be published in The New Yorker. Some writers are introverted and others will drink with you all night. Some writers have felt marginalized for most of their lives and others have felt entitled. Some writers write every day and others in uneven cycles and spurts. Some people study literature in college and others study Jackie Collins at the laundromat. Some writers are anxious no matter what their output and others settle into a Zen like calmness. Some writers quit again and again and others commit from day one. Some writers get their inspiration from role playing games and others from nature. Some writers define their creativity in spiritual terms and others don’t. I had all kinds of notions in my head about what it meant to be a writer and to actualize a writing life. Some were helpful, but most were junk and prevented me from enjoying the journey. Writers (and creative folk generally) come to this life from a dizzying number of perspectives and life experiences.
Let’s honor our individual paths and the wisdom they reveal and reflect back to us.
Have you had to discard any unhelpful ideas about what a writer’s life should be like? I’d love to hear.
Happy New Year!
Although January is a popular time for declaring writing resolutions, I’m usually too worn out from holiday socializing to join in. Instead, I like to use January to clear the decks, declutter and organize.
Devoting just an hour or so to each of the tasks below will yield a strong foundation for writing during the year.
Read your cache of blogs. All during the year, I bookmark bloggers and various blog posts that spark my interest. And, it is always my intention to go back to them and read them in a more leisurely way. It’s probably the same for you. Now is a fantastic time to dive into new ideas. Coming across other great bloggers is one of the joys of an online writing community.
Line up beta readers. You are going to finish something this year, right? If so, you will need some beta readers. Beta readers are people who read your work while it is in draft form. They could be people in your writing group, other writers, trusted friends, etc. It’s generally good to have a mix of non-writers and writers as beta readers. Want to know about beta reader etiquette? Check out author K.M. Weiland’s helpful post on this topic.
Clean up your bio across your social media sites. Read your short bios that live on social media (e.g. FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Do they still reflect the writer that you are? Are they compelling? Do you need to add, subtract or tighten anything?
Clean up digital clutter on your desktop. It’s coming to get you if you don’t.
Toss out old drafts. What do you do with drafts you’ve gotten back from your writing group? How long do you keep them? I have tendency to keep them way too long; they start to form into mountains on my desk. When you have integrated editorial comments into a completed story, toss the draft.
Check the ergonomics of your writing space. What can be moved and realigned for maximum support of your body?
Straighten up your submissions file—update your 2014 submissions file and create the 2015 one. And, of course if you haven’t started a submissions file yet, correct that. Writers write and submit their work.
Go through last year’s journals, class and conference notes. If you took writing classes, attended conferences or workshops and/or kept a journal this year I bet there are still some nuggets to mine. Take time to honor that work.
Get a new subscription to a writing magazine and/or literary journal. Where do you learn about the field of publishing? How do you find out about new writers? We do this in many ways, through blogs, friends, librarians and visits to bookstores. However, writing magazines and literary journals also can play a key role in our professionalization. You’ve probably been thinking about treating yourself to subscription to a writing magazine (or publishing trade magazine), or literary journal for some time. Do it! I began my subscription to Poets and Writers in January 2013 and have found it invaluable for my writing life
Update your writing accomplishments list and post it where you can see it. Smile at it from time to time.