Tag Archives: writer’s block

New class from Nicole Hardy & Suzanne Morrison!

Some of you may be familiar with authors, writing instructors, and forces of nature Nicole Hardy and Suzanne Morrison. Some of you may have even taken their class, The Art of Getting Started. Well, they’re doing again, and this time bringing all new prompts to the table.

On July 16, this talented and insightful pair with host a one-day workshop designed to get the juices and words flowing. For anyone who’s stuck or just needs to jump-start their writing, this is the perfect way back into your work.

Here are the deets:

The Art of Getting Started Redux, with Nicole Hardy and Suzanne Morrison

In this one-day generative class, we’ll focus on how and where and why to begin. Both instructors will provide writing prompts, short readings, and discussion topics in a five-hour attempt to face down the blank white page. We’ll keep in mind what Hemingway said—“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of sh*t. I try to put the sh*t in the wastebasket”—and fill our notebooks to brimming. Who knows what surprises we’ll find as we create the starts (or middles, or ends) of several new pieces.

When: July 16, 11am–4pm
Where: Tulinda Yoga Studio, 618 West McGraw Street, Queen Anne
Who: Suitable for beginning and emerging writers of fiction and creative non-fiction
How much: $200
: BYO, or buy nearby

To register: Send name, phone, and email to beingnicolehardy@gmail.com Payment arrangements will be made upon receipt, via Paypal, Venmo,  or personal check. Your payment in full confirms your registration and reserves your spot.

What to bring: Bring something on which to write, be it paper and pencil or laptop. (Please charge up before coming and bring your power cord, and we’ll do our best to accommodate your charging needs.) Please also bring your mobile coffee mug or water bottle and beverage of choice. And an extra layer always helps keep everyone in the room comfortable.

 Teachers: Nicole Hardy‘s memoir, Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin, was a finalist for the 2014 Washington State Book Award. Her other books include the poetry collections This Blonde and Mud Flap Girl’s XX Guide to Facial Profiling, a chapbook of pop-culture inspired sonnets. Her work has appeared in literary journals and newspapers including The New York Times, and has been adapted for radio and stage. Her essay, “Single, Female, Mormon, Alone,” was noted in 2012’s Best American Essays. She earned her MFA at the Bennington College Writing Seminars, and serves on the board at Mineral School Artist Residency. Learn more at authornicolehardy.com

Suzanne Morrison is the author of Yoga Bitch (Random House/Three Rivers Press), which was a Crosscut Best Northwest Book of 2011 and has been translated into six languages. A recipient of 4Culture and Artist Trust grants, Suzanne is at work on a new memoir and a collection of short fiction. Her fiction and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Litro, Salt HillWashington Square, Printers Row, The Huffington Post, and elsewhere. She teaches memoir and fiction at Hugo House and at Veteran Centers through the Red Badge Program. Learn more at suzanne-morrison.com.

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6 Ways You Should Be Stealing from Your Favorite Author

Chris Madden illustration of a burglar stealing a book on ethicsIf you want to get published, look to those writers who have come before you. In other words, be a book thief.

While we would never, ever suggest you plagiarize other authors, there are other ways to steal from them—and feel good doing it. The writers you admire have a lot of wisdom to impart, both directly and indirectly. Here’s how to leverage the career, advice, and published works of your favorite authors to get a publishing deal of your own.

  1. Check their acknowledgments.
    Doing your research is key to getting a sweet book deal. By checking the acknowledgments pages of your favorite authors, you will quickly compile a list of editors and agents to whom you might want to submit your project. In our Business of Books classes, we always recommend this bit of old-school sleuthing because it’s a much easier way to get a targeted submission list together than slogging through lists of agents and editors.
  1. Reach out and touch them.
    There are more avenues than ever to engage your favorite author, and we’ve seen more than one client make a personal connection with a writer. Follow and converse with writers you admire on social media; Susan Orlean, for example, is very active on Twitter, as is Judy Blume. You can also seek out writers who teach and take a class from them. Pam Houston, Andre Dubus III, and Maria Semple, for example, all teach at writers’ conferences and retreats. Many workshops allow serious interaction and review of your work. What better way to have your work noticed than to workshop it with a writer/teacher you admire? Who knows? They might even blurb your book when it goes to print!
  1. Learn from their successes and mistakes.
    Don’t reinvent the publishing wheel. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge out there already about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to writing and publishing a book successfully. In print interviews, podcasts, and TED Talks, authors impart lots of useful insider information about both their experiences. They also often write books about writing. Anne Lamott, Stephen King, Elizabeth George, and now Mary Karr, among others, have all written books that share their insight into the writing process. Sherman Alexie and Jess Walters teamed up to host a weekly podcast, A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment, where they share new work and talk about the bumps in the literary road. We’re personally excited to hear from some of our favorite authors—Joyce Carol Oates, come on!—at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference in February 2016, where we’ll also be teaching a workshop. NPR’s Scott Simon is giving a keynote, called “Napping, Drinking, and Other Writing Tips I’ve Learned From Great Authors from Phillip Roth to Judith Krantz to Mickey Mantle.” Great minds think alike, or so we’d like to believe. Glean all you can. And there’s almost nothing more encouraging than hearing how many times a wildly successful author has been rejected. 2015 Man Booker Award winner Marlon James persevered after his first novel was rejected 78 times by various publishers.
  1. Compare yourself to the authors you love.
    When you think about pitching your book (and yourself) to an agent or publisher, what authors might you compare yourself to? Give this question some thought. In your book proposal, it’s always a smart idea to align your writing with another writer or two. It helps agents immediately get a fix on your writing and an idea of how to position you and your project in the marketplace. This is not to say that your voice and writing isn’t completely original, it’s more that you are directing the conversation and putting yourself in the literary company you want to keep. As a case in point, Jen’s agent will always respond to an author who indicates why they reached out to her, which usually is because they believe their writing to be similar in some way to one of the authors in her stable. So, who is your literary dopplegänger?
  1. Study their writing practices.
    At events and in interviews, authors are always asked if they have any rituals or routines. When, where, and how do they write, and can you apply these tips to move your own project forward? Kerry just went to a reading where National Book Award Finalist Lauren Groff discussed how she needs the physicality of writing longhand for her creative process. If you feel stuck in front of a blank computer screen, this might be just the thing to get your creative juices flowing again, in the direction of a publishing deal.
  1. Find out who they admire.
    What and who do your favorite authors read? To be a good writer, you have to be a good reader as well. Finding out who an author reaches for or is influenced by might expose you to a whole new world. If you are experiencing writer’s block in some form, don’t fret. Consider it as a fallow period and use it as a time to read something great that a respected author recommended. It will make you a better writer and might offer up some additional comparisons when pitching your book.

To move your project forward in just two days, join us for Get Published!: A Writers Retreat at Willows Lodge on January 23–24, 2016.

(illustration: miloandalice.wordpress.com)

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5 Tips to Break Through Writer’s Block

shutterstock_941235251The new year offers the perfect opportunity to get start on a new writing project, be it an essay, a short story, poetry, or a book. You open your laptop or crack open your notebook and…are paralyzed by the blank white space.

This is not uncommon.

We’ve all been stopped up for some reason or another, so we thought we’d share 5 of our favorite ways to kick-start a writing project.

  1. Turn off your inner editor. As former editors, we understand the desire to wow and amaze with our first draft. But, realistically, this doesn’t happen all that often. In fact, it’s as rare as a unicorn sighting. So we recommend thinking of your first go as just writing down notes. It takes the pressure off. And when you go back and reread your “notes,” you’ll be surprised at how good your first brain dump is.
  2. Create a comfortable environment. Whether it’s hunkering down at your favorite coffee shop or sitting in a comfortable chair at home with a steaming mug of Earl Grey, take care of your physical creature comforts so you can feel as if the writing process is a pleasure, a treat from soup to nuts. Along those lines, consider the medium. Are you a speedy typist, or do you love writing longhand with a specific pen, filling up a beautiful journal with your prose and poetry? Think about how you prefer to write and gather the appropriate tools to help you on your literary journey.
  3. Change things up. That said, sometimes it’s good to break it up. If you are stuck, change your surroundings and your process. If you are a serious techie who never leaves your ergonomic chair, take a small notebook on your walk along the beach so you can jot down your thoughts with a fresh eye.
  4. Give yourself a prompt. You don’t have to write in a linear or chronological manner. Give yourself a short writing challenge, perhaps at the beginning of your writing time. If you are writing a memoir, detail your childhood bedroom as thoroughly as possible or imagine the adult protagonist in your novel at his senior prom or getting fired from his job. These writing exercises can inform your work and get your juices flowing.
  5. Work on different parts of the same project. We love developing book proposals, because if we get stuck on or sick of the manuscript, we can go to the bookstore and research our competition or possible publishers. We can brainstorm inexpensive and/or wacky marketing and publicity ideas. These are concrete elements, as necessary to your submission as your manuscript sample, so it’s a productive part of your writing process.

If you are ready to write your proposal, we are offering an all-day intensive of our proven workshop, 30 Days to a Winning Book Proposal, on 2/9/13. More information about our class can be found here.

(photo: wispringsco.org)

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