Writing Advice Archive

Review: WRITING HARD STORIES by Melanie Brooks

Sharply written, these intimate and insightful exchanges dispel the myth that perhaps we all, writers or not, have come to believe about our own narratives, our own lives: “The worst story that we can tell ourselves is that we are alone.”

Writ in Water: Interview with Claire Vaye Watkins

Claire Vaye Watkins, author of the celebrated collection Battleborn and widely acclaimed novel Gold Fame Citrus, talks with me about writing and living the West, conservation and resistance and optimism in the world of Trump, and faith in the "California experiment."

Bombing the Subway

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The subway has always been the great equalizer of New York City: it’s how the 99% of us get around. The best people-watching happens here, and the city’s art and culture scene extends deep underground.

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.