writing tips Archive

What’s Done is Done is Done Again

As a creative writing instructor, I get asked two questions more than any others. The first is easy enough to answer: “How do I find time to write?” There’s no secret here—set a schedule and get to your desk. The second question, however, continues to stump me, both as a

YA vs MFA

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I’m not a rule-breaker. I like order and organization (lord help you if you try to cut in front of me in the burrito line). And generally I don’t go looking for trouble. Except when it comes to writing YA. I was in my second year of my MFA

The Ploughshares Round-Down: How Publishing Looks From the Agent’s Side

If I were forced to write a mission statement, it would be short and sweet: “Help authors. Have fun.” It’s easy for anyone in this business to lose sight of the fact that we do what we do because we love books, and that everyone else we meet is here

Blitz Writing: Writing When There is No Time

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This time of year, many of my friends start looking for summer shares, beach houses, and too-good-to-be-true getaways. While they litter Pinterest with snapshots of cozy cottages within walking distance of the ocean, I drift away on a different flight of fancy: writing retreats and residencies. I pour over

Writing By Ear

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A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by Margaret Atwood, during which, in response to a question about introducing students to literature, she emphasized the importance of storytelling. Not story reading. Storytelling. Stories are, she reminded us, “scores for the voice.” All those little

What You Can Learn About Writing from Children’s Books

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I’ve spent the last year and a half brushing up on reading that for the last three decades or so I’ve been neglecting. Since my daughter was born, I’ve been diving deep into the literary canon, paging through tens or hundreds (well, some days it feels like hundreds) of