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 »

The Writing Life: Making Time To Write, Part II

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Now that we’ve all been practicing saying “I am a writer. I need time to write.” to ourselves, say it out loud and then plant yourself in a place that works for you and write. Sounds easy enough, right? But doing so can be hard for a variety of reasons. Let’s brainstorm some solutions to the most common barriers to finding time to write. Often, the best way to get around the endless duties of work and family life is … Read More »

The Writing Life: Making Time To Write, Part I

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Writing fiction is an odd choice of preoccupation. If you play tennis or golf or surf or run marathons, you can at least say you got your exercise in. If you paint or make pottery, you have a finished objet d’art to show off. Music? Your friends and family can sing along. Gardening? A beautiful yard or produce to share. Playing video games can be active and social. Reading is often considered time well spent for the mind and spirit. … Read More »

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