Writing the Emotionally Important Scenes

A Princeton professor I once read while for some reason I had no pen or device to record his name and the name of the article wrote that when we read a novel we are speeding up time as one book can contain may days, months, and years. But when we write, he said, we … Continue reading

Writing in Letter Form (Epistolary Writing) Keeps You Going

I am reposting an article form the 2012 archives with exercises for using the epistolary form to stay inspired and to keep writing. I had been a reader of letters to Ann Landers and other newspaper columnists to whom the public wrote well into my teens. Even after my own children were grown, I continued … Continue reading

Beating Artlessness to Heal and Save Ourselves and Hopefully, Our World

Emma Lazarus’ 1893 sonnet engraved on a plaque on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty has been made famous again this week. The New Colossus Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a … Continue reading

Writing About Grief, Writing to Protest and Take Action

Three mass shootings within seven days. Since January 2019, 979 people injured and 246 dead in such shootings. Waking up each morning to learn what new trick the current administration has for lowering morale in our country and treating people like rodents (that word, “infestation”). The rise in the number of cases doctors in our … Continue reading

Tattle Phone, a Writing Exercise

A few months ago, I was listening to Ira Glass on NPR while doing an errand. He was talking with David Kestenbaum about a preschool experiment in which kids were encouraged to say their complaints about unfairness into an unconnected red telephone in the classroom rather than to the teacher, who was tired of the … Continue reading

We All Have Opinions: The Argument and Persuasion Essay

Following the opinion pieces by Amy Hewes posted over the past two weeks, here is instruction on writing the argument and persuasion personal essay. It appeared in Writing It Real in 2014. I look forward to hearing from you in the comment section about your own experience writing in this form and about how this … Continue reading

Continue reading

Writing to Explore Influence and Admiration, Part 1

Writing a litany of praise for anyone to whom you owe gratitude for life lessons will work in interesting ways if you take on the seemingly unpraiseworthy as if it were praiseworthy. You will get interesting results that push your writing past easy sentimentality or blinding anger to the important waters of insight. Praising What … Continue reading

Learning from Others’ Pieces Written in the Second Person

A participant in my recent online class,”You: Writing in the Second Person” shared a website with us: Dead Housekeeping: Moody Home Tips, which features a string of short pieces in the second person contributed by writers on subjects as disparate as how to feed the yellow cat, how to have a house guest, and how … Continue reading

Listening to How a Poem Sounds Helps You Write Both Poems and Prose — Meaning is in the Sounds!

[The following article in honor of National Poetry Month appeared in slightly different form in March of 2003.] John Keats created the term “negative capability,” the idea that a poem holds within it one thing as well as its opposite. For example, when we eulogize someone’s death, we also celebrate their life. When we ache … Continue reading

Flash! It’s a Great Form to Practice!

What is flash writing and why do authors like to write flash pieces? It’s quicker to write than a novel or memoir. It’s a challenge to see how much you can say with a short word limit, up 500 to 1500 or under 300 for microfiction (6 words, 50 words, 101 words, 150 words, 250 … Continue reading

Continue reading

In a Season of Lists, Write a Litany to Help Yourself Keep Writing

It is holiday time and amidst the tornado-like whirl of shopping, decorating, traveling, baking, cooking, and gathering with family, friends, colleagues and community, of offering help in shelters and churches, it may seem hard to write. And even harder still to write to discover what is at the bottom of our hearts and minds. The … Continue reading

Continue reading

A Joke and a Limerick: Two Kernels for Good Writing

The two flash stories I am sharing this week offer you kernels for writing clever stories yourself. A Story with a Joke at Its Center Click over to “World’s Best Joke” https://www.passagesnorth.com/archives/issue-34/worlds-best-joke/ by Allen Woodman, one of my favorite short, short stories. I came across it in a book of flash fiction called Flash Fiction Funny edited … Continue reading

I Can’t Get Enough of Flash Memoir!

Writing Flash Memoir is great exercise for writers. I’ve been experiencing this in my own writing and editing and in the classes I have been teaching online and in-person. Getting to the point and writing tight while still relying on details to move the reader into the story and move the story forward to its poignant, … Continue reading

Continue reading

Taking Inspiration from Allen Ginsberg’s Poems to Have My Say

Tuesday, as I waited for election returns, I thought of Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl,” written in 1955, so full of despair at what he had seen around him. I wondered what I would howl when I found out whether or not Democrats had gained a majority in the House of Representatives and, therefore, become able … Continue reading

Continue reading

A Gander at Propaganda

“The Institute for Propaganda Analysis: Protecting Democracy in Pre-World War II America,” an article authored by Zachary Reisch and kept in the Bryn Mawr Institutional Library, offers clarification about the exploration of propaganda in our country. “What is democracy?” Reisch asks and he goes on: This is the question that liberals in late 1930s America … Continue reading

Continue reading

A Wonderful Genre: Models and Lessons to Help You Write Flash

For the past month, I have been teaching an online class in writing in the flash subgenre. Last Saturday, I taught an all-day in-person seminar on the genre. So, this week, I am sharing some of my lesson ideas and links to model flash pieces, which I hope will encourage you to try your hand … Continue reading

Continue reading

Hiring the Journal Keeper (and/or the Writer Within)

  …the heart…and the learned skills of the conscious mind… make appointments with each other, and keep them, and something begins to happen. Mary OliverA Poetry Handbook Whether you are someone who sets out to write poems, essays, stories or articles or keeps journals, the thinking and analogy I make in this excerpt from my … Continue reading

Continue reading

Double Issue: Writing Exercises to Inspire You to Write

Here is a collection of writing ideas to keep you going for days as our schedules start to fill with fall commitments and shorter daylight. Let the Seasons’ Personas Inspire You to Write It’s the change of seasons now. Some of us feel crisp, chilly air as September wanes. Others of us may find other … Continue reading

Continue reading

The Change in the Trees, How Strong the Wind is Blowing

As I update an earlier book of mine, A Year in the Life: Journaling for Self-Discovery, I will be sharing some of my favorite writing exercises with you over the next few weeks. Here’s the first of several lessons I am enjoying revisiting: A Lesson From Morrie and Rilke Many of us have read Tuesdays … Continue reading

Continue reading