Writing Advice Archive

The Artist’s Statement—How Visual Artists Find and Use Voice

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Voice is an intangible but discernible sensibility that threads through and ties together a body of work. It can be loud or quiet, but we always feel it.

On Movement: the Writer as Walker

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Many writers have explored the pleasures of walking, including the likes of Virginia Woolf and Amy Hempel. There is a whole canon that depicts and analyzes the connection between moving through geographical terrains and mental ones.

Serial, Timelines, and Fiction

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In "Route Talk," an episode from the first season of Serial, Sarah Koenig and her producer attempt to recreate the state’s timeline of the murder of Hae Min Lee. As I listened, I was struck by how similar their exercise was to one creative writers perform.

Character & Setting; Figure & Background: A Painters Advice to Writers

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Character and setting, figure and background. In literature and in art, they should work together to bring a concise picture into view.

Details and Big Picture, Through the Eyes of a Visual Artist

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I came to writing by way of visual art and the loss of the ability to step back from my work and see the whole, seemed insurmountable to me. But I now understand that language can be used just like paint.

“If I Can Bear the Nights, the Days Are a Pleasure”: On Not Writing

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I’m a slow writer and I accepted that a long time ago. But earlier this year, I noticed I was becoming slower and slower, writing a sentence a day, even a sentence a week at times. I was experiencing a period of drought.

Urgency: On Writing About the Body and the Corporeality of the Lyric

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A few years ago, I spent a good hour on a medical table, swaddled in a pale blue paper sheet, supine in the shadow of a plastic surgeon who had had to numb my face with three full syringes of lidocaine.

Writer & Artist: What We Can Learn from Writers Who are Both

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In many ways, visual art gave birth to literature. The first stories written down were cave paintings. For years our alphabet was made up of pictographs which simply meant that the only people who could tell stories were those who could draw.

What Writers Can Learn From Visual Artists About Patterns & Meaning

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Patterns are everywhere and we rely on them to understand ourselves and the world. Theoretical physicists and cosmologists attempt to unlock the mysteries of our existence by searching for patterns. Behavioral scientists, psychologists, psychobiologists, criminologists, sociologist and cognitive scientists seek insight into human nature by studying patterns.

The Cost of the Academic Job: A Personal Narrative

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A few years ago, a small university invited me on an MLA interview for a tenure-track assistant professor position teaching publishing and creative writing. The hiring committee assumed I would be attending the conference and so told me when and where to be.