advice Archive

Challenging Cultural Norms: Contemporary British Women Authors

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I realized what I’d been searching for all along. An avid reader, I absorbed a variety of books during my childhood and adolescence. These were carefully screened by my well-meaning but stifling folks, who paled at the thought me reading

Dear Advice Person Lady: Advice for Writers

Author: | Categories: Authors, Writing No comments
Writers are neurotic. Are we more neurotic than other artists? Definitely. And it’s time we had our own advice column. A Dear Abby for our literary breakdowns. And if I have to volunteer to be that person, so be it. The letters have been pouring in—which is weird, because

How to Win AWP

Author: | Categories: Industry News, Writing No comments
I’ve always felt that AWP* could be livened up by a conference-long game of Paintball Assassin. Until that happens, here’s some other stuff to try: The Book Fair Bartering Game: Start with free swag. Something cool, like a box of matches with a chapbook cover on it. Find the

Since Feeling is First: Elements of Craft to Express Emotion

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing, Writing Advice No comments
Emotions, feelings, desires—whatever you choose to call them—are central to writing. e.e. cummings wrote “since feeling is first / who pays any attention / to the syntax of things / will never wholly kiss you.” But how do we pay attention to syntax while retaining feeling? There are countless

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Stop Chasing “Childlike Creativity”

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice No comments
Earlier this month I got to spend a week leading creative writing workshops with children in the foster system, some of them as young as six-years-old. And while many of you work with six-year-olds all the time, I usually teach college students or teenagers in jail. This was challenging, hilarious, and loud. My friends

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Labels, Action, and Confidence

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 2 Comments
A couple weeks ago, author and marketer Ryan Holiday wrote a piece for Thought Catalog titled, “Can You Call Yourself a Writer?” In it, he argues that “[j]ust because you have done something, doesn’t mean you are something.” In other words, calling yourself a writer when the craft is a mere hobby

Research Unleashed! And Leashed.

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 5 Comments
I knew I had a problem when I started envying my dog’s cone collar. Now, my dog’s problem was a hot spot. Allergic, itchy, hot, and double-coated, my German Shepherd had chewed her hind leg raw over the course of a single evening. My problem was research. Engrossing, surprising,

The Ploughshares Round-down: Why “Don’t Feed the Trolls” Falls Short

Author: | Categories: Publishing Advice 3 Comments
Over the last two weeks, the internets have exploded with news about terrible comment sections and how to handle trolls. As writers, we know that since comment sections are where humanity goes to die (Ploughshares comments excepted of course), putting creative work online basically means exposing ourselves to the worst mankind has to offer. (Hooray!) Enter

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Why “Do What You Love” Is Bad Advice

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 6 Comments
In 2005, Steve Jobs gave a now-famous graduation speech at Stanford University. “You’ve got to find what you love,” he said. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great

Writing is Not Like…

Author: | Categories: Writing No comments
For the past year or so, I’ve contemplated the ways that writing is like many other everyday tasks we undertake. In that time, I’ve reached for some unlikely comparisons. (See baseball, cooking, going on vacation.) As the year comes to a close, I’d like to reverse course and think