Category Archives: Inspiration

The Essential Rewrite

    We all have a story. Yours might be of loss, confusion, or upending heartbreak, a crisis that brought you to your knees. Maybe you lost your child, or your marriage fell apart. Maybe you’re a survivor of the most brutal abuse. Whatever your story is, it continues to have you in its grip. It’s the…

Nothing But The Truth – A Writing Exercise

Last week, we saw how writers deal with the same fears no matter how prolific or seasoned they are. Vanilla brain, paralyzing self doubt, the crushing uncertainty. We all feel those things at various times.   And it’s easy to disconnect from our writing during those spells of despair.   But the best way to reconnect…

The Struggle That Most Writers Never Talk About

An aspiring writer recently shared this with me: “My story looks so alive and brilliant in my head. But as soon as I write it, the story falls flat. And then I feel like a fraud. I wonder why I continue to spend so much time at something I’m obviously so bad at.” Ever feel…

Building Character by Raising the Stakes

  Happiness may be great in real life. But it’s fatal in story. Few things numb readers more than a character surrounded by birdsong and puppies, who isn’t risking something deeply important. There’s no payoff when everything works out all hunky dory. Or when the outcome is as simple as a character getting what he…

Writing With and Beyond Uncertainty

How much should you know about your story before you write it? The conventional advice goes something like this: First, write a one page summary of what your story is about. Know your characters inside and out. Come up with the conflict. Plot out your beginning, middle, and end. Know your theme. Then write the…

How Your Writing Group Is Holding You Back

Recently, a reader told me that members of her writing group had eviscerated her novel-in-progress. The collective feedback was so disheartening she wanted to ditch her manuscript and quit the writing gig altogether. My heart always breaks a little when I hear stories like this. But it reminded me of all the peer groups I’ve…

5 Ways To Get Out Of A Writing Funk

If you’re like me, there comes that moment when you loathe what you’ve written. You read what poured out on the page in a meteor shower of inspiration. And then everything that felt glittering and brilliant just yesterday now feels trite. Flat. Messy. Implausible. We read our favorite books and think, Jeez, I’ll never write…

How to Turn Setbacks Into Progress

Your novel was turned down by a publisher. You just received a form rejection letter – the worst kind-  from an agent. Or maybe the feedback from your workshop flattened you to the point of paralysis. You thought your story was so much closer. Setbacks can crush us. And cause even the most resilient writers…

Writing Success Redefined

How do you measure your success as a writer? Is it by how much money you earn from your writing? Is it the publishing contract? Nailing an agent? Sure, those are external markers of success. But what does success as a writer mean to you? Years ago, when I began writing in earnest, a dancer…

Writing to Draw Readers in Emotionally

Flannery O’Connor once said that, as writers, we can’t create emotion with emotion. We need to provide it with a body, to “create a world with weight and extension.” Love on its own, for example, is too broad and abstract for the reader to feel. If we write about something as ethereal as love without anchoring it…