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Finishing A Dead Draft

Anne Lamott famously gave us the concept of “shitty first drafts” as the key to “good second drafts and terrific third drafts,” and even that seems overly optimistic for many writers—my process for long fiction takes at least four drafts. But if we are being generous with ourselves, as Anne Lamott argues, we embrace theContinue reading “Finishing A Dead Draft”

Post NaNoWriMo Report: Accountability Matters

Final word count: 52,683 I have often emphasized that writing is not a solo endeavor, but an inherently social activity. In fact, this is one of the reasons I chose to study writing instead of botany: I wanted something a little more social (I was very naive when I made that choice, so please forgiveContinue reading “Post NaNoWriMo Report: Accountability Matters”

NaNoWriMo 2020 Update #3

Par today is 31,673 words. As of writing this, I’m at 31,865 words. I haven’t written for today yet. So it’s still safe to say I’m doing all right this year. Today i want to ask: Why do you write? Everyone writes for different, often deeply personal reasons. I’ve been thinking about these reasons aContinue reading “NaNoWriMo 2020 Update #3”

NaNoWriMo 2020 Update #2

Today is 20k day. As of writing this, I’m at 20,945 words. I haven’t written for today yet. So it’s safe to say I’m doing all right this year. Today I want to talk about accountability in writing. Accountability is, in fact, part of the magic of NaNoWriMo. Part of the reason that more wordsContinue reading “NaNoWriMo 2020 Update #2”

NaNoWriMo 2020 Update #1

Novel word count at time of publication: 8,588. As you are probably aware, it’s November. That means, among other things, that it’s time for NaNoWriMo. It’s a familiar rhythm at this point, and I love it. And it’s the rhythm of NaNoWriMo I want to talk about today. Honestly, it’s the only thing that feelsContinue reading “NaNoWriMo 2020 Update #1”

Building Plot: The Power of Yes

When I had been writing fiction in earnest for about two or three years, I was doing some revision when I noticed a pattern: my characters said “no” a lot in dialogue. It ranged from quiet “no”s to big, dramatic, Luke-finding-out-who-his-father-is “NOOOOooooo”s. I mean, I was a middle schooler at the time, and my writingContinue reading “Building Plot: The Power of Yes”

Do You Really Wanna Grade That? Practical Questions for Assignment Design

When I was in 8th grade, my English Teacher assigned a research paper. I think it was only 5-8 pages, honestly. I can’t remember the exact numbers. It was, though, the longest research paper any of us had written for a class up to that point, and the class was, in a word, shook. OnContinue reading “Do You Really Wanna Grade That? Practical Questions for Assignment Design”

How To Decide To Cut A Scene: A Heuristic for Writers

Almost every fiction writer has heard “kill your darlings” and “show don’t tell.” These pithy sayings get repeated so much that they lose a lot of meaning and they’re frankly a little annoying, because they don’t really help writers know when to kill darlings, or which darlings to kill, or what to show and notContinue reading “How To Decide To Cut A Scene: A Heuristic for Writers”

Whom Do You Write For?

One of the hardest questions that authors get asked perhaps too seldom is “Who are you writing for?” It’s also, perhaps, the most important. More important even than “Why are you writing?” or “What are you writing?” Writing without an audience just doesn’t work. The audience completes the text, you see. Sure, the author mayContinue reading “Whom Do You Write For?”