01 Oct

DIY MFA: Week 4 In Review

Posted in DIY MFA, Week in Review

Hello everyone!

Hope you all had a great week.  I started teaching my second class this week and it’s been crazy fun!  The kids in my Brooklyn class are awesome and the Manhattan class is so great, when I get to the end I always feel like we’d just started.  It feels a like the time just disappears.

But enough about me.  Can you believe September’s done?  I still can’t believe it.  DIY MFA just flew by and mostly that’s thanks to you all because you made it just so easy and fun.  I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who’s participated in DIY MFA this past month.  Whether it was by reading the posts, commenting, re-tweeting posts, or sharing your DIY MFA experiences on your own blogs, you guys have helped make this project a success!  And you make iggi and me smile inside and out.

Never fear, DIY MFA isn’t going away.  We’re having a week-long celebration this coming week and after that, it’s back to DIY MFA, only on a modified, less intense schedule.  For more details about Commencement Week, check out Thursday’s post.  Also, don’t forget to sign up for the Blogfest and share your DIY MFA experiences with everyone!

Recap of this Week in DIY MFA:

Saturday: Keeping a Journal
I’ve kept a notebook/journal since I was a kid and I’ve always found it was an important part of my writing life.  Here are some of my thoughts about keeping a journal.

Sunday: Writing Out
Going out for a writing date can be so much fun and so productive.  Here are some tips on the etiquette of writing out as well as a list of my favorite spots in NYC.  Check out the comments for other suggestions for great writing spots. 

Monday:  Writing a “Big Paper”
Writing a larger paper on a body of literature is central to the Love of Literature section of DIY MFA.  In this post, we kick-start a blog series about how to put together a study of multiple books and what to do with the paper (or paper outline) once you’ve put it together.

Tuesday: DIY MFA Community
Now that DIY MFA is coming to a close, iggi and I are making big plans for a DIY MFA online community to serve as a companion to this blog.  Comment on this post with your suggestions and ideas.  Also, if you’d like to help out, send me an email: iggingabi[at]gmail[dot]com

Wednesday:  Guest Post: “For All the Haters” by Elizabeth Dunn-Ruiz
Elizabeth writes about why people are often afraid of poetry and why it’s important to make sure the “container is the right size for your content.”  This is a fabulous guest post about the beauty of poetry and why it’s an indispensable part of a writer’s repertoire.

Thursday:  Let’s Get this Party Started
This wrap-up post concludes the September portion of DIY MFA.  But fear not, there is still much DIY MFA to come and iggi and I aren’t going anywhere.  So come join us in our celebration of DIY MFA with our Commencement week-long party.  And get ready for more DIY MFA to come.

Thank you all for making DIY MFA so much fun.  You rock! 

p.s.  I totally forgot to mention this earlier so I’m adding it in now.  Check out my ode to Banned Books Week over at Verbal Pyrotechnics.  Have a great weekend everybody!


24 Sep

DIY MFA: Week 3 In Review

Posted in DIY MFA, Week in Review

Hello everyone!

Hope you all had a great week.  I started teaching this week and next week I’ll take on an additional class, so things have been busy busy busy.  But that’s the way I like things to be, so it’s all good.  How about you?  How has your week been?

Before I get to the recap, I wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to our two guest-post authors this week.  Michelle and Merrilee both wrote wonderful posts and shared their insights on various aspects of the creative process.  You guys are great.  Thank you!

Recap of this Week in DIY MFA:

Saturday: Guest Post: Michelle Davidson Argyle Discusses Self-Publishing
Michelle shares her experiences in self-publishing CINDERS.

Also, the winner of the CINDERS giveaway is… *drum roll*…  J.C. Martin.  Thank you to everyone who participated by leaving comments, and congrats to our winner!  J.C. Martin please email me your mailing info so that I can send you your copy of CINDERS.

Sunday: Guest Post: Merrilee Faber Writes About Creative Revision
Merrilee gives some fabulous tips on how to make revision part of the creative process.

Monday: Writing About Individual Works
How to use our writing to expand our understanding of what we read.  In particular, ways to make the most of reviews and response essays.

Tuesday: Choosing the Right Conference
Choosing which conference to attend can be tricky, but if you know what you want to get out of the conference, it makes the choice much easier.

Wednesday: Technical Tips for Writing Dialogue
iggi and I provided a dialogue sample, then I ripped it apart pointing out all the mistakes.  What mistakes can you find?

Taking Critique
Some tips for helping to ease the sting of rough critiques.

Don’t Forget:  There’s still time to register for iggi U.  Check out the iggi U tab for more information or to catch up on previous posts.  If you register, you automatically get entered in the DIY MFA contest.

And one more thing…  As we make our way into our last week of this DIY MFA extrabloganza, I’ve already started mulling over where DIY MFA should go next.  I’d love to hear from all of you:

  • Which “classes” have been the most useful?
  • What would you like to see more of?
  • Any other ideas of things you’d like to see in DIY MFA after September?

Please tell me because I’m DYING to know: what ideas/thoughts/suggestions do you have of where DIY MFA should go?  


17 Sep

DIY MFA: Week 2 In Review

Posted in DIY MFA, Week in Review

I cannot believe we’re already halfway through DIY MFA!  I hope you guys are enjoying it as much as I am because I’m having a blast.  Before I go into the weekly recap, I just wanted to give a huge shout out to my followers.  Yes, all you adorable faces in the sidebar, I’m talking about you.  Every time I log in, I see new smiling faces and you all make me giggle inside.  You rock!  Have a sticker.

Recap of this Week in DIY MFA:

Saturday: Morphological Forced Connections
This writing trick uses a matrix to help you come up with writing prompts or other writing ideas.  Earlier this week my writing group used this technique to come up with ideas for one writer’s title.   You can used MFC for just about any type of brainstorming.

Sunday: Mind Mapping
Use mind map diagrams to brainstorm or outline your story.  This is great for visual thinkers or writers who don’t like traditional outlines.

Monday: Learning from the Masters
Use your reading time to learn to write.  Includes a list of suggested resources.

Tuesday: Author Readings and Literary Events
One great way to connect with other writers is through readings and literary events.  Check out a reading series at a local university or author readings at your local bookstore.

Wednesday: Moving Right Along: Ins and Outs of Plot
Studying plot archetypes can help figure out your story structure.  Figure out what your character wants and what’s standing in his/her way and Voila! You’ve got conflict.

Giving Useful Critiques
Tips for giving strong critiques and a sample passage critiqued by several writers. 

Don’t Forget:  There’s still time to register for iggi U.  Check out the iggi U tab for more information or to catch up on previous posts.  If you register, you automatically get entered in the DIY MFA contest (Prize = 25-page critique!)

Now, please tell me because I NEED to know: how did this week go for you?  Any suggestions or ideas you’d like to share?


10 Sep

DIY MFA: Week 1 In Review

Posted in DIY MFA, Week in Review

It’s been a great first week here at iggi U.  I hope you all have enjoyed it as much as I have.

If you’re just joining us, check out the iggi U page.  It has lists of past posts as well as a link to our registration post so you can join the fun and be included in our contest!

So, how did this week go for everyone? For me it was still a bit on the crazy side but I made a good bit of progress on my WIP so the first round of iggi-tinis is on me!

Recap of this Week in DIY MFA:

Saturday: Five Stages of Writer’s Block
This post discusses five stages of writer’s block: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.  The idea here is that for writers to break through writer’s block, they must first identify what stage of writer’s block they are experiencing.

Sunday: Who You Gonna Call?
Creative blockbusting is all about identifying the different blocks and taking steps to counteract them.  Here we discuss risk-taking, chaos, idea incubation and flexible thinking.

Monday: Building a Reading List
The first step to approaching literature in a pragmatic and scholarly manner is to put together a reading list.  It’s important to include books from various different categories: books similar to your WIP, books that inform your WIP, contemporary books in your genre and general must-read “classics.”

Writers on the Interwebs
In this post, I tell the story of how I got involved with online writing communities and share links to some of the sites and blogs that have helped me along the way.  Oh, and there’s a group project too so chime in!

A Question of Character
This first post on craft focuses on character and describes two tools I’ve developed to helping me keep a handle on all the information I collect about my characters.

Critique Groups 101
6 important tips for participating in a critique group.  Also, a link to a great blog post that discusses how to run an effective writing group.

Final Note:  This past Monday’s post on reading lists got some great comments and I was so thrilled to see you all really thinking about your DIY MFA plans.  For real, when I first cooked up this idea, I never thought anyone would take it seriously!  You guys made me so happy.  iggi’s doing a happy dance.

DIY MFA is all about you building your own writing plan, so it’s great that you guys are really invested in implementing this project.  At the same time, though, keep in mind that not all the DIY MFA posts will be relevant or useful to every writer.  The whole point of DIY MFA is that the onus is on you to decide which techniques to implement and how closely to follow them.  While I really do believe that the 4 threads of DIY MFA are each essential, how you choose to put each thread into action depends on what your individual goals are.  My job is to present options and help spark ideas.  What you do with these options and ideas is up to you.

That’s all for this week!  But before I go I’m dying to know, how did this week go for you?


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