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Paradox: Limitations Drive Creativity

If I ask you to tell me a story, or to draw me a picture, what’s your first reaction? If you’re like most people, it’s another question: “About what?” Few things are as intimidating as a blank sheet of paper. All the hopes, fears, dreams, tragedies, climaxes, and denouements you plan to spill forth in lyrical and dazzling prose … where, oh where, to begin? That’s one reason prompts are such powerful, proven...

Interesting Times and Heavy Lifting

A college friend who is an avid reader and married to another college friend and avid writer sent this story to me with this note: “Interesting times ahead.” Big Six publishers decline to renew contract with Amazon over unfavorable terms He, several friends, and I engaged in some commentary on the article. Here’s an edited/condensed version of my thoughts: Isn’t that an old Chinese curse – interesting times?...

Everything you write makes you a better writer.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jane Friedman at a Writer’s Digest program; she’s since left that august publication and joined Virginia Quarterly Review. Lucky for all of us, she still offers terrific advice to writers on her web site. I found this post particularly useful as we head into National Novel Writing Month:   3 Steps for Using Prompts to Write Better & Get Published By Gabriela...

The 99/1 Rule, WOM, and Your Best Effort

One of my Facebook groups is discussing The Red Pen of Doom’s article “The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books.” The author, @speechwriterguy, posits an important point: “Twitter isn’t built to sell books. Or anything else.” I agree. His post, which is long, analyzes a range of variables in terms of mass media, name recognition, numbers of followers, etc., and arrives at a very challenging conclusion: “The new...

Don’t Envy – Improve

A few years ago, when I finished Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin while doing the eleventythousandth revision of my own novel manuscript, I closed her book and looked at mine and thought, “Why bother?” The bother is that I’ve got my own story to tell. It’s not Atwood’s story, or Melville’s or Twain’s, or even yours. You’ve got your own story, too. Because it’s your story, the issue isn’t whether you write as...

A word about self-publishing for writers so inclined.

The fact that no one in the legacy publishing industry knows what makes a best seller is indisputable. That fact does not mean everyone in the legacy publishing industry is an idiot. Even if J.K. Rowling experienced a dozen rejections before selling Harry Potter, and even if James Redfield self-published and sold more than 80,000 copies of The Celestine Prophecy from the trunk of his car, traditional (sometimes...

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