Five Tips for Inspiring Quality Writing from Life Experience

Tip #1 — Find An Occasion Poet Stanley Plumly says that poems must weigh more at the end than they do at the beginning. As with poetry, the personal essay and memoir supply a vehicle for writers to find out what matters and to feel the weight of what matters. As writers, we take ourselves, and … Continue reading

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Our Dreams Choose Us

After I began studying with poets at the University of Washington in the early 80’s, I had a closet in my bedroom under my house’s eaves converted into a writing nook with a skylight. Sitting there at night, I could see the stars and sometimes the moon. During the day, sunshine and Seattle’s famous clouds, … Continue reading

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You Are My Heroes — A Letter to Writers

You may have taken time away from writing while preparing for the holidays, but now’s the time to jump back in to reach your writing goals. This week’s article from the Writing It Real archives first appeared in 2006. If offers support for taking the place of writing in your life seriously and a writing … Continue reading

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The Holiness of the Heart’s Affections

The following article about trusting our need to write was first published in Writing It Real on December 25, 2003.  As this year draws to a close, it seems timely again to remember that as artists, we must overcome  whatever lack of courage  we harbor and meet the world’s sadness as well as its joy with … Continue reading

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A Holiday Letter

After a request from a Writing It Real member to write more on the topic of composing holiday letters, I decided first to write my holiday letter and see what lessons came. I started with the scene of a recent night’s wakefulness and let that scene lead me to associations concerning some of the events … Continue reading

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Want to Start a Fresh Essay? Write From What is Unsolved

If you have been having difficulty finding topics or ways into the areas that you most want to explore in your writing, try the following exercise I developed from reading Rilke’s Letter to a Young Poet to refresh your approach to writing personal essays. You may want to send your results in as entries to … Continue reading

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Let Your Writer Self Be With You

“Issues of productivity,” “sitting still with loneliness and boredom,” “compartments of time.” I mulled these phrases over.  A close writing colleague was suffering from writer’s block and had written them to me in a letter.   As I thought about what I consider the source of writer’s block, I dialed my cousin.  I often make phone … Continue reading

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A Special Birthday

Last night I attended a late showing of Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon’s movie Moonlight Mile. An audience of young and old sat absorbed and silent as the drama of two parents and their deceased daughter’s ex-fiancé unfolded. Bearing witness to their emotional defenses and behavior as well as the ineffectual and sometimes cruel expressions … Continue reading

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Trim Twist Demonstrator

Have you ever come across a call for submissions for a themed anthology or special issue of a magazine and thought, “Oh, I have something I could write that would fit”? Combing the submissions-wanted section in Poets & Writer’s magazine and signing up with Creative Writing Opportunities to receive daily emails about literary magazines and … Continue reading

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In Celebration of Behind Us the Way Grows Wider: Thoughts on a few of my poems

Last week, Pixelita Press published Behind Us the Way Grows Wider, a collection of my poems from 1980 to the present. To celebrate, I am sharing some of the poems and my commentary about them. As the title suggests, the book starts with my earlier poems and continues through my latest poems. Here is one … Continue reading

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Two Old Dogs and a Reverent: 15 Musings on Persona

-1- I am reading Garth Stein’s novel Racing in the Rain. I am drawn in by the narrator, a dog named Enzo. As I read, I remember two other works in which dogs narrate–Billy Collins’ poem “The Revenant” and Eugene O’Neill’s essay, “The Last Will and Testament of Silverdene Emblem O’Neill.” In all of these … Continue reading

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Some of My Favorite Answers For Writers

A good interview calls forth the best from an interviewee, and I am pleased that I have had such opportunities to articulate the thoughts and experiences that shaped me as a writer and writing teacher.  Here are answers I’ve reread recenting and find worth repeating to others as well as to myself: I was honored … Continue reading

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To Write is to Observe: Learning This Again on a Trip to Turkey

To Write is to Observe: Learning This Again on a Trip to Turkey In Mid-May, I took a trip to Turkey with 11 women writers. Susan Bono and I gathered participants who met together for four days of touring Istanbul. Our Turkish counterpart, writer and teacher Yesim Cimcoz and her student Fusun Centinel put together walking … Continue reading

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Four Tricks that Keep a Writer Going

Don’t Think. Write! Many authors who write about writing say, “Don’t think. Write!” I am one of them. But I also think it is fair to say to those who write, “Don’t think. Play!” If you allow yourself to play when you come to the page, you are more likely to create a unique world … Continue reading

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Carrying the Raindrops – Journey to Writing Poetry

Just after she’d learned to walk, my 15-month-old daughter and I spent a cloudy afternoon at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo.  Her favorite animals were the birds that wandered the grounds because she saw she could send them into flight by toddling towards them.  A day later, we saw ourselves in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  A reporter … Continue reading

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A New Year’s Greeting

Dear Writers, It’s New Year’s time, time to reflect and encourage ourselves to set goals we long to achieve. For me, it’s also the time of year that marks the anniversary of the snowboarding accident that took my son’s life. At the end of December 2000, friends and family gathered in Seattle and in Port … Continue reading

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On Writing Grief

At times of loss, those of us who write have a strong tool to use in working through our emotions. Whether our loss is a pregnancy, a child, a spouse, a parent, a marriage, our health, a job, an opportunity or a location, writing can help us find a sense of our new selves, selves … Continue reading

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Writing About A Road Not Taken

Most of us regret having taken actions regarding life decisions because of fear or confusion or not wanting to disappoint others. How our lives would be different now if we had seized the opportunities life presented is something we can’t know. And we may be perfectly happy in our current lives even as we retell … Continue reading

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Building My Writing Life

In classes and at writers’ workshops, people often want to know how they can make their lives writing lives. Many ask how they can begin to earn income from writing. The answers to both questions vary, depending on what kind of writing they want to create, whether they want to write for print publications or … Continue reading

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What Good Talking!

The first time I taught a seminar in keeping a writer’s journal, I was stuck with the fact that everyone around the table said they enrolled partly to develop discipline as a writer. They came to class believing that learning the discipline of keeping a journal could be a foundation for being a “real writer.”  … Continue reading

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