writing process Archive

A Novel Phobia: Treatment Plan

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While I may have given Graphobibliophobia a name, it would seem that it is a widespread affliction. Identifying it was the first step. Now, fellow Graphobibliophobes, what do we do about it? Traditional treatments for phobias include things like modeling, counter-conditioning, and exposure treatments. All of these involve confronting

A Novel Phobia: Diagnosis

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Most of my phobias have rational explanations and are probably quite common. My ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) can be attributed to a West Texas upbringing punctuated with rattlesnake avoidance education. The blame for my coulrophobia, fear of clowns, rests on the shoulders of Stephen King, Tim Curry, and John

Writing Is Like Going on Vacation

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Over the past few months I’ve compared writing to walking, mixing a drink, cooking, and baseball, and you’ve indulged my metaphorical ramblings. But writing is like going on vacation? No siree. Writing is work, hard work. Work that takes dedication and thought and effort. Lots of effort. I’d rather

Episodia 1.7: Lost Novels and Love Triangles

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Lately I’ve been thinking about beginnings, endings, and that terribly murky time between a writer completing one project and starting another. After recently finishing a memoir, I’ve been itching to write a novel. I have a strong start to a new one—it’s always thrilling to be at the beginning of something, when all

Beach Writing

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I was elbow-deep in my first novel when my second novel arrived. Since Novel 2 concerns premature babies, its timing seemed appropriate. For a week, I pacified Novel 2 with light research and a thousand words of writing. There, I told it. Wait. I headed back to the hard,

For Those About To Write (We Salute You) #6: Stop, Look, and Listen

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For Those About To Write (We Salute You) will present a writing exercise to the Ploughshares community every few weeks. We heartily encourage everyone reading to take part!  If you’ve been following along with this series from the start, you might have noticed a bit of a theme emerging—each

For Those About To Write (We Salute You) #5: Take A (Mindful) Break

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For Those About To Write (We Salute You) will present a writing exercise to the Ploughshares community every few weeks. We heartily encourage everyone reading to take part!  We’re all here because we want to write. We love doing it even when we hate doing it—and we try, valiantly,

It’s About Point of View

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Note: Following the Marathon bombings, and the subsequent citywide lockdown, we took a conscious decision to keep the blog free of commentary about both—despite several contributors volunteering. A literary journal isn’t the place for punditry or analysis of current events, we decided, and there were plenty of other places

Do Characters Dream of Left-Justified Sheep? (Part Two)

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How can you avoid bad dream-writing? Part One of this post appeared on Monday. All right, let’s talk about the good things dreams can do for your writing process. Let’s have some nice dreams. Real-ize Your Dream  Have you ever used a dream as inspiration for writing? George Saunders did this

Do Characters Dream of Left-Justified Sheep? (Part One)

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I had the strangest dream about you last night, my husband said. You were surrounded by wood. There were wood walls, floors. All this old furniture everywhere. Of course, a wife is keenly interested in her husband’s dreams, especially if she’s the star. But what struck me about my