21 Free Gifts from the Virtual World

After all the gift giving, charitable donations and holiday trips away this time of year, you’ll find the free resources listed below particularly attractive. Each link has inspiration and information to help you fill the well of your creativity. Stock up and let the generosity of writers, editors and publishers help you make and keep … Continue reading

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2007 Bedell Nonfiction Now

On November 1-4, I attended the Bedell Nonfiction Now Conference at the University of Iowa. The conference’s mission is to explore the history, present, and future of nonfiction in its myriad forms, and, as you might expect, the conference was packed with excellent panels, speakers, and readings focused on personal experience writing. Thursday November 1, … Continue reading

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Creating A Lyric Essay Using the Interview Approach

I spent my summer writing a book called Perfect Phrases for Writing the College Application Essay. My effort was to come up with sentences (sometimes questions, sometimes statements) to help those who have to write the application essay focus and draw specific details from their experience and then organize the details into compelling personal statements. … Continue reading

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What Keeps Us Writing?

Most of us writers collect quotes from writers on writing. Whether we hang them above our desks, write them in journals, put them in our email signatures, or use them as epigraphs for our own writing, they remind us of what we find most important about writing and encourage us to keep on writing, even … Continue reading

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Figuratively Speaking: A Perception of Resemblances

Last week we discussed poems in Rebecca McClanahan’s impressive collection, Deep Light. This week, we hear from her as a skillful user of figurative language and enjoy the exceptional opportunity to learn how to stretch our metaphor making muscles. The following work is an abridged version of Chapter 5 from Word Painting: A Guide to … Continue reading

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About the Three-Step Response

Reprinted with permission of Writer’s Digest Books from Writing Personal Essays: How to Shape Your Life Experiences for the Page by Sheila Bender, Writer’s Digest Books, 1995 About The Three-Step Response To help the writer understand what kind of contact his or her writing makes, my responsibility as a reader of the work is to: … Continue reading

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Putting Life Experience on the Page

I’m reading over 70 personal essays about rich human experience. The essays that came to us as entries in our contest are having a great impact on me. As I read, I move among countries, among ages, among decades and among social groups. I learn about topics new to me and revisit familiar ones with … Continue reading

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On Lurches and Launches: Narrative of a Book Launch

Everyone wants to help. Everyone has advice. My audiences split along the divide of wanting to know more about Louisa May Alcott, wanting to know more about me or wanting to know more about the genesis of the book (that’s what I get for inventing a new genre, the “bio-memoir”). Some people also feel compelled … Continue reading

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Keeping Your Computer Organized

A month ago, when I asked Writing It Real subscribers if they would like an article on technical computer issues writers face, there was a big response. Almost all the comments were about hard drive organization: Any tips you can give, sequentially and logically, to organize my hard drive would indebt me to you forever. … Continue reading

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Overcoming Writing Inertia

Recently, I read Writing Brave & Free: Encouraging Words for People Who Want to Start Writing by Steve Cox and Ted Kooser to learn how they encourage others who want to write. As always with books on writing, I am on the look out for sparks that ignite the exercise-making part of my brain.  In … Continue reading

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Keeping a Writer’s Journal

Writers write. A journal is way to do that, without knowing where you are going with the writing, to unload thoughts, obsessions, insights and observations, and sometimes to imitate other writers, seeing how your perceptions might come across in the voice and sentence structures of those they admire. Sometimes you can imagine your writing addressed … Continue reading

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27 More Tips for Writers (76-102)

If you don’t know how to start a piece of writing about a person, try remembering something that person believed. Write that belief out and attribute it to the person. What can you write that bounces off of those words? (You can do this when you have a non-personal subject, too, by starting with a … Continue reading

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25 More Tips for Writers (51-75)

Always take some time to read what you are writing aloud after you have finished a draft. Note the places that are hard to say or seem to go flat or inspire you. Try taking out the flat spots, extending the inspired spots and rewriting the hard-to-say-out-loud spots– the difficult places often require more or … Continue reading

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Working with a Free-Lance Editor or Book Doctor

 The following essay is one of a collection of 39 essays by distinguished editors about the practical and theoretical aspects of publishing that appear in Editors on Editing:  What Writers Need to Know About What Editors Do, edited by Jerry Gross, Grove/Atlantic, 1993.  It is reprinted with permission of the author. When should a writer … Continue reading

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Secrets to the Success of Motivational Speakers Might Help Us Succeed as Writers

Writing in BOOK PROMOTION newsletter, Francine shares the following quotes and biographical information about four dynamic motivational speakers and book authors: “Whatever your mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) “You become what you think about.” Earl Nightingale (1921-1989) “You can have everything in life that you want if you will … Continue reading

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Getting Your Writing Past Contest Screening Judges

About seven years ago, Sheila agreed to judge a personal essay contest for a writing magazine. Her task was to choose and rank the ten top essays among the submissions. Told to expect about 1,000 essays, she was surprised when 3,500 showed up at our door with only three weeks to choose the winners. I … Continue reading

To access this post, you must purchase Lifetime Membership In Writing It Real, Generate Four Starts in One Week + Membership, Four Half-Hour Consults + Membership, Flash: Sudden Fiction and Non-Fiction + Membership, Fiction Writing Workshop + Membership, Epistolary Writing Online Workshop + Membership, Develop One Piece Start to Finish + Membership, Online Personal Essay Writing Workshop + Membership, Writing Exercises to Heal Grief + Membership, Sampler Platter + Membership, Lyric Essays Online Workshop + Membership, Poetry Writing Workshop + Membership, One Half-Hour Consult + Membership, Phone Consult: 3750 Words or Six Poems + Membership, Coaching & Mentoring Services + Membership, Write What You Know Online Tutorial + Membership, Book-length Manuscript Evaluation + Membership, Development and Line Editing + Membership, Writing Healthy Starts + Membership, Eight Half-Hour Consults + Membership, Writing Contest + Membership, Befriending the Giant + Membership, Introduction to Scrivener — Plus Membership, Writing for Young Readers Plus Membership, Keep Goin’ On Your Writing over the Holidays Plus Membership, You: Writing in the 2nd Person Online Workshop Plus Membership, Write More Healthy Starts Plus Membership, Summer Reading Summer Writing Plus Membership, In-Class Writing and Responses – Your Writing Will Surprise You! + Membership 11:00 AM, In-Class Writing and Responses – Your Writing Will Surprise You! + Membership 2:00PM, Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor – How Editing Helps You Find Your Way + Membership 2:00PM, Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor – How Editing Helps You Find Your Way + Membership 11:00AM, Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor – How Editing Helps You Find Your Way 11:00AM or Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor – How Editing Helps You Find Your Way 2:00PM.

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Book Packagaing: Under-Explored Terrain for Book Free-Lancers

This article was originally published by Writer’s Digest Magazine.  Reprinted here with the permission of the author. I’m willing to bet my favorite pen that most people who are reading this have no idea what a book packager is. Until I worked for one, I didn’t know they existed, either. Book packaging is a quiet … Continue reading

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Writing is a Wave in the Mind

I am a young schoolgirl watching the early dark fill my bedroom windows. I sit at a small drop leaf desk doing vocabulary homework, folding paper long ways in half and writing the date in whichever upper corner the teacher has asked me to. By now I’ve heard stories about Plato and Socrates. Thinking about … Continue reading

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25 More Tips for Writers (26-50)

To write a good character, you have to imagine that you live in the character’s body and listen for his or her inner voice. Ask the character you are inventing what secret he or she most wants to keep.  Decide if the story you write will reveal that secret or just inform the characters gestures, … Continue reading

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Why You Get Form Rejection Letters

At every conference I teach, participants commiserate about rejection notices– not only about getting them but about the insulting nature of their standardized messages. Occasionally, someone has a story of a personalized rejection or of actually having received suggestions from an editor on the rejection slip. Usually, though, the talk ends the same way–wall paper … Continue reading

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