Creative Nonfiction, Memoir

Creative nonfiction writing exercise: Your name

As I mentioned in my last post, I am going to be doing a lot of writing this semester in my creative nonfiction course. I am working my way through my first reading assignment and am already coming across small writing exercises that I would like to share with you. This post might turn into a series!

This is my sisters and me. I'm the oldest.
This is my sisters and me. I’m the oldest.

Writing Exercise

For today’s creative nonfiction writing exercise, you will write two paragraphs about your name. The first paragraph should be strictly objective, while the second should be more subjective. In other words, the first paragraph will contain facts about your name. The second will tell what it is like to be YOU while wearing the mantel of your particular name. Here’s an example from Writing True: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction: Continue reading “Creative nonfiction writing exercise: Your name”

Education, Novel Writing, Writers on Writing

How long does it take to become a writing master?

Painting The Writing Master by Thomas Eakins
How many words do you think you need to write to become a writing master? | Painting The Writing Master by Thomas Eakins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Facebook friend recently shared a link to an article titled, Here’s A Shocking Truth If You Think You’ve Wasted Your Life. According to this article, it takes a person about seven years to master a particular task. This prompted me to consider how long I have been writing and how close I should expect myself to be to mastering it.

After giving it some thought, it occurred to me that I am probably exactly where I should be in regards to my writing career. Although I have been writing in some capacity for most of my life, it is only in the past five years that I have put my full effort into it. Prior to that, I had taken a ten-year break while I was married because my ex didn’t want me to write at all. Continue reading “How long does it take to become a writing master?”

Write Your Novel this Summer Challenge

Summer writing challenge check in: Week 2

overcoming writer's block - crumpled paper on ...
This wad of paper pretty much sums up all aspects of my life at the moment. | overcoming writer’s block – crumpled paper on wooden floor – crushed paper (Photo credit: photosteve101)

I am setting a horrible example for my summer writing challenge participants. I just can’t seem to get anything written. At least not on my novel. I’ve been dealing with some personal issues (on top of the whole job fiasco, as if I didn’t have enough to feel depressed about,) and it seems like every time I put a pen to paper, that’s all I can write about. This doesn’t bode well for me finishing my novel by the end of the summer.

So, my accomplishments this week: there was one. I wrote a tragedy arc for one of my characters to try to stoke the writing fires. That didn’t get me far. I’m thinking of writing a tragedy arc for myself next. It might be fun to plot my own demise. Continue reading “Summer writing challenge check in: Week 2”

Novel Writing, Write Your Novel this Summer Challenge

Sometimes it’s okay to tell a story rather than showing it

Staring at a blank page will get you nowhere
It’s true. So stop staring and write something!

Do you ever find yourself staring at an empty page, afraid to put down that first word because you do not know if it is exactly what you want to express in your story? Do you worry about each sentence, afraid you are going to write something that (heaven forbid) tells rather than shows your story?

I know you want to sit down and write a complete and perfect story. We all do. But most of the time it just doesn’t work that way. If you let yourself get bogged down in the details of perfection in the first draft, your first draft will never be complete. Continue reading “Sometimes it’s okay to tell a story rather than showing it”

Writers on Writing

Writing is…

Collaborative writing exercises—such as the cl...
Collaborative writing exercises—such as the clustering shown here—can be used for development of ideas. Colored tabs of paper—attached to the large page—are used in a collaborative voting exercise to gain consensus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Writing a book is like putting together a blank puzzle, one on which you must paint each little bit of the picture as you are putting the pieces together. How is that not art?

What is writing to you? Continue reading “Writing is…”

Essays, Reading, Writing Prompts

Writer’s observation: Reading is FUNdamental

Out to lunch signMy latest writer’s observation assignment was to go to a crowded environment to people-watch and capture the atmosphere of the place. Here’s my attempt:

Hard benches line hall, buzz of machinery – maybe the heat system? – behind locked doors, one woman alone at the end of the bench by the door, checks her Facebook on her phone. Spotted, filthy gray carpet.

Woman gets phone call, talks loud. “Yeah, everything is all about him, it always i Continue reading “Writer’s observation: Reading is FUNdamental”

Novel Writing, Writing Prompts

Wednesday Writing Prompt: Setting

Who is your main character? How did her hometown influence his or her growth leading up to page one of your novel? | Art (Photo credit: A.Currell)

I’ve recently made the decision to throw all of my writing focus into novel writing. This is something I should have done a long time ago, but for some reason paying the bills always seems to come first. Anyway, I’m working on a series of free-writes designed to work out the details of my novel as I am writing it. Over the next several weeks, I hope to post several writing prompts devoted to working out these details.

For this week’s Wednesday Writing Prompt, the focus is on setting. Specifically, the setting in which your main character grew up. Where we came from often has a major influence on who we become. It stands to reason that the setting where your character grew up will have a major impact on who she is in your story. Continue reading “Wednesday Writing Prompt: Setting”

Blogging, Writing Prompts

Writing prompt: Pick an object

The side tables have convenient drawers and ma...
You never know when the inspiration for your next great story might lurk somewhere in the depths of a random drawer. | (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re a teacher or student (or both, like me,) your head is probably about to explode from all of the recent end-of-year academic activities. So, for today’s Wednesday Writing Prompt, I thought it might be appropriate to pick something fun and light to write about. Of course, if you’re in the mood for deep and dark, you could probably take it that way too. Here goes:

Without looking, reach into a drawer, any drawer, in the room in which you are right this moment. (If you’re in a public place or someone else’s home, you may want to ask for permission first.) Pull out the first item you can get your hands on. Remember, don’t look in the drawer or look for a particular item. Instead, I want you to grab one random item Continue reading “Writing prompt: Pick an object”

Writers on Writing, Writing Prompts

Wednesday Writing Prompt: Are you a real writer?

"Writing", 22 November 2008
Do you consider yourself a "real" writer? | "Writing", 22 November 2008 (Photo credit: dr_ed_needs_a_bicycle)

Yesterday I promised that I was going to begin to share a writing prompt on Wednesdays here on my blog. So, without further ado, here is today’s prompt:

Do you consider yourself a “real” writer? Why or why not? What makes a writer?

For today, I chose a topic that will likely make a better essay or blog post than a short story. However, I think it’s a topic we should all be considering if we take our writing seriously. Continue reading “Wednesday Writing Prompt: Are you a real writer?”

Writing Prompts, Written Communication

Can you write a Story A Day in the month of May?

writefirstwritefast (Photo credit: jwordsmith)

Each week, I ask my Written Communication students to spend about 15 minutes freewriting on a specific topic. At the beginning of the semester, I asked them to each submit several freewrite ideas for us to use throughout the semester. Once in a while, I will sit down and do the activity with them. When I do, I always end up with an interesting piece of writing I likely would not have otherwise written.

I find freewriting and the use of writing prompts to be extremely useful. So, I was just sitting here thinking that it might be fun to do a similar writing prompt on my blog once a week. And, since Wednesday and Writing both start with W, I thought, why not Wednesday Writing Prompts? Continue reading “Can you write a Story A Day in the month of May?”