Quote of the Day: “Lower Your Standards”

My friend Marty G., a professional writer and editor, who has been at it for thirty-plus years, does not believe in writer’s block. When a writer complains she can’t make progress on the first draft of her book, Marty advises, “Lower your standards.” When it comes to the craft of writing, Marty is an advocate for excellence, but he also knows the difference between writing a first draft and a third draft. First, get the words on the page; second, make it better; third, make it zing!

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The Wild Freedom of 100 Lines

My writing friend in Mexico introduced me months ago to author CM Mayo’s generous web offering: 365 five-minute writing exercises. Somewhere among those exercises is one that suggests writing 100 lines about a story, scene, idea. I don’t remember the exact details of her exercise, but I am completely addicted to the flexibility it has inspired, and I use it all the time. These days, when I’m diving into a new scene, I begin with 100 lines of free association. These free me of fear and lead me to infinite discoveries, including: dialogue, emotionally evocative sensory details, physical descriptions, various …

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SNIPPETS

This week I confessed to a writer friend who lives in Mexico that I’ve been working on my current novel in five- and ten-minute increments. I’m no stranger to writing on the go. I always carry something to write with and something to write on–tiny notebooks, recipe cards, old receipts and gum wrappers. I’ve been known to call my home phone and leave myself “writerly” messages: a few lines of dialogue, some character notes, the sketchy highlights of a pivotal scene.  I often suggest to clients who are over-scheduled and/or phobic about facing the blank page, that they send me …

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The Writers Telesummit 2008

Creativity coach and author Eric Maisel and two colleagues have teamed up to present the Writers TeleSummit 2008, Thursday, September 4th through Sunday, September 7th, 2008. I’ve found Maisel’s books on creativity and self-coaching to be really helpful. I love the clarity of the steps he offers to demystify the creative process. When I read the list of 24 presenters, I was impressed. Among them: Eric Maisel will talk about “Writing and Selling the Nonfiction Book.” This should be inspiring. Agent and author Jeff Herman has written one of the best guides to writing book proposals. His talk “Finding the …

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LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF

A wise and gifted writer friend recently reminded me of an exercise designed to provide new perspective on one’s life. I have used variations of this exercise in my workshops. I find it especially useful when a writer wants to attain some breathing space around a particular subject or some distance from a particularly challenging experience. It can also be useful in developing a fictional character. The following has been adapted from the book Cancer as a Turning Point. Part One: Imagine you are a child again, you at age ten or eleven, and you receive a special letter. This letter …

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THE 10-MINUTE-VENT

When it comes to encouraging and even enhancing flow in your creative writing process, the 10-Minute-Vent may become your most important tool. It’s the exercise I use to launch my writing days. Writer friends and clients who try it report immediate results: it is a powerful way to steer clear of self-sabotage, procrastination, the destructive inner critic, and creative block. All writers hear voices. We usually welcome those belonging to our characters and the narrators of our stories; but there are some we do not welcome, and, in fact, may fear. I call these internal voices my “cast of hundreds”, …

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