The Writing Life: Writer’s Block

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When writing is something we make time for, the phenomena known as “writer’s block” can be frustrating. Writer’s block is when we sit down to write, look at the white space following the last line we wrote and blank out. Having an outline or synopsis or idea of where we’re going with the work is no guarantee against writer’s block. We all hit that moment when our brains and fingers simply stop and we can’t find the next word or … Read More »

The Writing Life: Exercise

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Work, caring for a home, kids of any age, setting boundaries to give ourselves time to write—where does exercise fit in? Who has time for that? Writing is a sedentary activity and it’s important to read if we want to write, but that’s also a sedentary activity. The writing life is filled with coffee or tea and a lot of sitting around! But our doctor and spouse and kids aren’t going to accept that excuse for our extra weight, high-blood … Read More »

The Writing Life: A License to Eavesdrop

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We all eavesdrop a little, but for the most part Americans in general are told to mind their own business. As writers, we teach ourselves to block out distraction and my spouse swears that I, for one, can write through most commotion that doesn’t involve gunshots or open fractures. But when not actively writing, I eavesdrop everywhere. Eavesdropping can give you unique or catchy character names (Belson Garcia), occupations you hadn’t considered for the funny little character you don’t have … Read More »

The Writing Life: Research, Part II

How do we inject realism into our writing? Research is one of those harder-than-it-seems actions that those with “google-fu” excel at, but the rest of us sometimes struggle to start. The bottom line in my experience is to just start. And to stay organized. And to be ruthless. To start, plug general terms for your research subject into your chosen search engine. Browsing will turn up repeated words. Plug those in as keywords. As your brain starts to digest the … Read More »

The Writing Life: Research Part I

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Occasionally as writers we run up against the notion that we are simply “making stuff up in our heads and writing it down”. For fiction writers that notion is partially true, but relates, for the most part, only to the progression of our plots. Non-fiction writers also have occasion to be creative— descriptions, changed names, aggregated characters, condensed dialogue— but all based on what is known to have happened. The vast foundation of any type of writing is research. Research … Read More »

The Writing Life: Idea Generators

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Where do story ideas come from? Characters? Settings? We all live in a rich and textured world that teems with possible stories, but they can seem so elusive once we sit down to write. It seems easy to break a story line when we’re sitting in a conference panel and the speaker takes elements from a dozen different participants, but how do we translate that to our own work at home? The most important step, in my experience, is to … Read More »

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