Writing Advice Archive
I learned how to write by going to art school and becoming a visual artist. Color, light, perspective, scale—I use these same visual tools in my writing. But of all the practices I use as an artist, the practice of using objects has helped my writing most.
What It Is is expressionistic and difficult. Before the techniques are imparted (and they are, eventually) Lynda Barry spends more than one hundred pages blending comic panels, short passages of autobiography, and gorgeous, bizarre full page collages that explore the fundamentals of craft and creativity.
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.”
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."
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.
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.
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.
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 and setting, figure and background. In literature and in art, they should work together to bring a concise picture into view.
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.