The Art of Writing the Other: Online Class

I mentioned this course — The Art of Writing the Other — the last time it was offered, and it’s coming up again. It will be a shorter, more intensive version, and therefore cost less than the last course did. However it takes place over the New Year’s holiday weekend: January 1-3. Registration opens tomorrow, December 5th. Head over and check out the details ASAP if you’re at all interested. It should be a really great course.

Flexing Your Creativity: Day 4 of the Writing Challenge

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to day 4 of the December Writing Challenge. Yesterday I talked a bit about scheduling your writing time over the weekend by committing to it on your calendar and/or setting up some writing dates with like-minded friends. Today I’m going to tack on a bit of advice for when your schedule goes to hell.

It happens. We all know it does. You’ve got great intentions. Your writing time is scheduled and you really do plan to sit down and work on your current project at that precise time, but then the phone rings or the washing machine overflows or your boss pushes up a deadline and it looks like you have to work over the weekend. So what do you do when life happens and throws your great plans out the window?

Writing is all about creativity, and sometimes you need to extend that creativity to finding time to write. Even as you plan, you need to stay flexible, and not let a wrench in the works completely derail your writing for the day. Keep in mind that writing is a portable activity. Yes, you may prefer to sit in your ergonomically correct chair in front of your computer with your favorite instrumental music low in the background and a perfect cup of tea resting in a convenient spot on your desk. In an ideal world, everyone would get to write in their favorite spot with their preferred conditions. Alas, our world is far from ideal, so sometimes you’re going to need to improvise when life gets in the way.

For those days you find your writing schedule thrown askew, be prepared to write anywhere and at any time you can squeeze it in. Keep a small pad and pen with you at all times to jot down a few sentences when the opportunity presents itself. If you drive a lot, use your phone or a hands-free digital recorder to talk through a tough scene you’ve been thinking about, so when you do get to your computer you’ll be ready to write. Put dinner in the slow cooker instead of hovering over the stove — and be sure to make enough for leftovers to save another night’s prep time. Forgo watching the evening news — it’s depressing, anyway — and spend the time writing instead.  Reach out to friends and family and see if they can help out with something that will give you a bit of extra time. Can your kid go for a play date at the neighbor’s? Would your significant other cook or pick up take out? When all else fails, set your alarm a few minutes early, or burn a bit of midnight oil. You might not want to do that regularly — sleep is important, after all — but once in a while won’t exhaust you, and it will keep your creative momentum flowing.

Have a wonderful weekend, and be sure to drop by if you need a bit more writing inspiration. Bit by bit, day by day, you can do this.

Friday Links: Literary Leveling Up

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week, and that you’re getting lots of writing done through the December Writing Challenge. I’ve kept an eye out for some particularly inspiring links in order to give you an extra push to keep those words flowing. Reach a little higher, strive a little harder. But I’ll be back a bit later with the day’s official pep talk, so for now I’ll just wish you a productive day and a wonderful weekend. Happy writing!

23 Short Story Competitions in 2016 – Mark your calendars and plan your strategies now.

Five Ray Bradbury Stories that Tell Us Everything We Need to Know about Writing – Bradbury always makes for a good read, and if you can learn something, even better.

Important Infrequently Used Words to Know – Frequency of use probably varies, but this is a fun list for vocabulary building (or learning how to spell that word you’ve only ever heard aloud).

Molly Crabapple: My Life in a Parisian Bookstore – The artist and author shares her experiences in Shakespeare and Company.

How the Ballpoint Pen Changed Handwriting – An intriguing peek into the mechanics of writing.

The Millions: A Year in Reading 2015 – Every year The Millions gathers reading wrap-ups from authors and contributors, racking up a terrific collection of diverse book recommendations. Keep checking back, as they will continue to add posts until the end of the year.

Eli Horowitz Wants to Teach You How to Read – The former managing editor of McSweeney’s wants to change the world of books (again).