01 May

Story A Day

Posted in DIY MFA, Story A Day, Writing Challenge

I was recently interviewed by Julie Duffy of StoryADay and the interview is posted at StoryADay.org.  Squee!  Please check it out and share your thoughts so Julie gets lots of comments on it!

As we embark on our Writing Marathon today, I wanted to mention StoryADay, which is an awesome challenge that starts… today!

StoryADay is sort of like the short story version of NaNoWriMo, except instead of writing a novel in one month, it’s all about short stories.  The idea is you write and finish one short story every day for the month of May.  Julie’s set up a fantastic site where you can connect with other writers doing the challenge and post stories as you write them.  I did StoryADay last year and it was great fun.  Didn’t win, but that’s not really the point… the point of the challenge is to rekindle that love for writing and it definitely did that.

So if any of you are wondering what to do after your DIY MFA time in April, I recommend checking out StoryADay and trying out the challenge.


18 Jun

Sneak Preview

Posted in Teaching, Writing Challenge, Writing Through The Senses

It occurred to me that perhaps some readers out there may be wondering what this Writing Through the Senses thing is all about.  In light of this, I decided to give you all a taste of what this course will be like.

Over the next five weeks, we’ll be talking about the five senses and using them as a jumping off point to spark creativity and kick-start some writing projects.  Each week will focus on one of the five senses, using it to enrich our writing and deepen our understanding of craft.

Week 1: Sound–Achieving a Sense of Focus
We start the series of classes using music to set the mood for story-telling.  We will discuss the musicality of language and how it can affect tone.  We will experiment with sound-based language tools to achieve a desired effect in our writing.

Week 2: Sight–Gaining a Sense of Curiosity

This week will be all about imagery.  By using colors and visual images to inspire our writing, we will develop a better understanding of metaphor.  We will also study how key details can both further the story and build character.

Week 3: Touch–Developing a Sense of Intuition

This week will focus on how we can make the ordinary become extraordinary through writing.  Touch–perhaps the most immediate of the senses–is all about intuition and the focus will be on artfully channeling that instinct.

Week 4: Taste–Creating a Sense of Playfulness

Food is fun; it has a sense of humor.  This week is all about “finding the funny” in our writing.  We’ll examine the mechanics of parody and discuss literature that is just plain silly.  The point of this week is to make writing fun.

Week 5: Smell–Reclaiming a Sense of Nostalgia

Ah, smell… the most elusive of the senses.  And yet, of all the senses it is the one most closely tied to memory.  That is what this week will be all about: getting to the core of our memories and capturing them on the page.

Intrigued?  Want to be part of the challenge?  Just go to Writing Through the Senses and follow the instructions in that post to join.

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02 Jun

…And We’re Back! (Sort of)

Posted in Writing Challenge

For the month of May, I replaced the writing challenge with Story-A-Day.  Now May is behind us and the writing challenge resumes.  Sort of.

I’ve come to realize that if I want to finish my novel between now and August 1, then I need to write three pages or 750 words every day.  This sounds like no big deal–I mean, it’s just three pages–but I’m terrified.  The very thought of writing a certain number of pages every day fills my head with a million “what ifs.”  What if I can’t do it?  What if I have a bad writing day and I can’t finish my three pages?  What if I hit the wall?

It sounds like I’m hyperventilating over nothing, but the truth is, I’m playing with the big kids now and it’s sort of freaking me out.  See, while I’ve been able to fudge my way around most of my previous self-imposed deadline, this one is more serious.  No, the world won’t end if I can’t finish by August 1st, but there’s more at stake now than there has been with previous projects.  I’ve finished school; now I have to produce something.

So in light of this new goal: my new writing challenge will be 3 pages or 750 words per day.

What’s that saying again?  You know, the one about paving roads with good intentions…  Well the intentions are here, now I just hope I get where I want to go.

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19 May

Story A Day Challenge Weekly Update: Part 3

Posted in Story A Day, Writing Challenge

Getting back into my story a day routine has been more challenging than I anticipated.  Just as writing often leads more writing, not-writing simply perpetuates the not-writing cycle.  Last week I wrote an update about the things that help me get my daily writing done.  Today I will discuss the things that are not helpful.

In order to protect my daily writing, I will not…

  • …allow one false start to sabotage the rest of the writing day or week.
  • …gripe or complain about writing.  I’m doing what I love; there is nothing to complain about.
  • …rationalize or make excuses for not writing.  Excuses take up energy that could be poured onto the page.
  • …procrastinate.

And if I do have a bad writing day I will…

  • …acknowledge and move on.  I will not mentally flog myself until every ounce of creativity has been beaten from my brain.

After all, the point of this challenge is to jump-start my writing and in that regard, I’ve already made some progress.

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