• Browsing all articles by David Duhr | WriteByNight Writers' Service

    Are You Writing? Week of 10.16.17

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Are You Writing?     Comments 5 comments
    Oct
    16

    “Are You Writing?” is a new weekly space that will allow you to post your writing, editing, and reading goals for the week — in public! for accountability! — and to let us know how you did the week before.

    Anyone remember AccountabiliBuddy!? It’s like that, but with many more partners.

    New posts will appear every Monday. read more

    Are You Writing? Week of 10.9.17

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Are You Writing?     Comments 6 comments
    Oct
    9

    “Are You Writing?” is a new weekly space that will allow you to post your writing, editing, and reading goals for the week — in public! for accountability! — and to let us know how you did the week before.

    Anyone remember AccountabiliBuddy!? It’s like that, but with many more partners.

    If y’all like this and find it useful, we’ll do it every week. read more

    Jeanine Walker and Early Writing Influences

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 5 comments
    Oct
    7

    TL;DR version: This week we welcome to the WriteByNight team our newest coach and consultant, Jeanine Walker. In her Q&A, Jeanine cites her ninth grade English teacher as a major influence. When asked about our influences, many of us will name writers we admire. But what about the people who impacted us at a young age? Let’s discuss below.

     

    If you’ve visited our Staff page recently you’ll have noted that we’ve hired a new writing coach and consultant, Jeanine Walker. Jeanine, who lives in Seattle, received a Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of Houston and runs writing workshops in and around Seattle.

    To learn more about Jeanine, take a peek at this Q&A. If you’re interested in working with Jeanine through one of our signature one-on-one services, contact us for a free consultation to discuss.

    What jumped out at me in Jeanine’s Q&A was her response when we asked about her writing influences. Most of us will immediately begin rattling off a list of writers we admire and perhaps have tried to emulate. And Jeanine does do that, eventually, naming writers such as Mary Gaitskill, Marie Howe, and Ruth Ozeki.

    But first she says this: “My 9th grade English teacher, Lloyd Sheaffer, was a huge influence. He read everything I brought to him to read outside of class for four years.” read more

    Are You Writing? Week of 10.2.17

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Are You Writing?     Comments 13 comments
    Oct
    2

    “Are You Writing?” is a new weekly space that will allow you to post your writing, editing, and reading goals for the week — in public! for accountability! — and to let us know how you did the week before.

    Anyone remember AccountabiliBuddy!? It’s like that, but with many more partners.

    If y’all like this and find it useful, we’ll do it every week. read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: More Fun with Sp*m!

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 22 comments
    Sep
    24

    TL;DR version: We’re going back to the sp*m well in this new Micro Fiction Challenge. Starting with one of the five sp*m comments below, write a fifty-word or shorter story. Type or paste your story in the comments. Get creative! Win books and fame!

     

    Let’s get our generative juices flowing by using some auto-generated gibberish.

    That’s right, gang: It’s another Micro Fiction Challenge based on the absurd comments our sp*m filter catches!

    Remember how much fun we had last time we did this? We had reality stars (“Kim who, Joey what”), athletic wind, people conveying other people. Jerry Schwartz won by using all five prompts in very funny fashion. One of you even emailed to say that this prompt led to a short story.

    This time around, the prize is a brand-new SIGNED copy of Michael Ausiello’s new memoir, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies.

    But the real prize? Creating some new micro fiction, of course! read more

    Tom’s a Good Farmer

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 6 comments
    Sep
    17

    TL;DR version: I’m in a bit of a weird place, geographically and psychologically. So I wrote a letter telling you about it. The point? I dunno. You never know where you’ll find inspiration? Even if you’re not writing, you can still be engendering future writing?

     

    For the past three days I’ve been in a county whose population barely cracks 18,000. Back home, I can see 18,000 people in a day without really trying. The town I’m staying in houses 5,000 of those 18,000, and is the only incorporated community in this county of 600 square miles. I’m staying at the nicest hotel in town. It’s a run-down Ramada, base rate $65/night, and is worth nearly every penny.

    There’s a bookstore in town. It doubles as a liquor store; you can come in and browse books while sipping a local beer. Weekdays it closes at 5:30 p.m.; weekends 6:00.

    The town’s restaurant guide offers a dozen options, including McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC/Taco Bell, the Kwik Trip filling station, and Subway.

    The 2010 census shows a population of about 5,200 people, 96.1% of whom are white. Agriculture makes up 49% of its economy. I was talking to a guy yesterday and he mentioned a successful area farmer. “Yeah, Tom’s a good farmer,” he said. I’d never before considered farming and talent level; that there are farmers good at farming and farmers bad at farming.

    My dad was born on a farm just outside of town. When he was zero years old, his family lost the farm. I guess maybe my grandfather wasn’t a talented farmer. read more

    Your Writing Fugue and You

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Strategies     Comments 10 comments
    Sep
    9

    TL;DR version: If you lose track of all time and space when you write, you’re not alone. It’s (unofficially) called a writing fugue, and it happens to many of us. WriteByNighter Joe C. worries that his writing fugues are a problem: he forgets to eat, forgets to move around, forgets to pee. If a writing fugue leads to better writing but some physical discomfort, is it worth it? It’s a question each fuguer must answer for him or herself.

     

    Lately we’ve all spent a lot of time discussing process, inspiration, where we write, how we write. What kind of headspace we need to get into in order to produce words.

    WriteByNighter Joe C. emailed to ask us about his process, in which he goes into a sort of trance when he writes, losing touch with both the world outside and with his own internal workings.

    “It’s almost self-destructive, what I do,” Joe writes. “Basically, I forget to do a fuckn’ thing. I have coffee [and start writing] … and then suddenly it’s 4 p.m., my back is stiff, and I realize I’ve been holding my bladder to the point of pain. I lose myself completely, and it happens all the time. … It’s weird.  My question is if you know of anyone who experiences this same behavior when they write.”

    Justine and I had a writing professor who refers to this as a “fugue state.” It’s not the actual dissociative disorder — don’t panic! — but it does resemble it in some ways.

    And it happens to me all the time. read more

    Together We Make Stronger Art

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments 14 comments
    Aug
    26

    TL;DR version: Basically I just riff about how WriteByNight is turning eight years old and how I draw inspiration from you telling us how we inspire you. You know what, just read the post. It’s not even TL this week, I swear!

     

    One of the things we’re most grateful for is that we chose WriteByNight over some of the other options we threw around: Composite Monster, for one. Shibboleth! Exquisite Corpse; Flyleaf; Wanderjahr. My goodness.

    This weekend, WriteByNight turns eight years old.

    I looked up eighth anniversaries and discovered that the traditional gifts are bronze and pottery. According to this one website, “Bronze is created by combining two different metals, copper and tin, to make something strong and beautiful.” And then “Pottery symbolizes how your relationship grows and changes into something even more amazing with each year, the way that a lump of clay is shaped by an artist.”

    I’ll spare you any lengthy analogies. The gist: Together we make stronger, more beautiful art. read more

    Getting Back into a Groove

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Strategies     Comments 21 comments
    Aug
    19

    TL;DR version: Help! I’ve fallen (out of my writing groove) and I can’t get up! After months of writing nearly every morning, and establishing a routine, I took two weeks off. Now that I’m trying to restart my routine, I’m finding that the words won’t come. When you fall off your routine, how do you get your groove back? Let me know in the comments below.

     

    For a number of reasons I shan’t bore you with, I haven’t written a word since August 1.

    For some of May and all of June and July, I’d been writing nearly every morning. I was in a groove and loving it. I established a pattern and stuck with it: roll out of bed, make coffee, go to the park, write by hand until satisfied (return home, pass out). I was beginning to see the finish line — far away on the horizon, but taking shape.

    Then I stopped. read more

    Oh, the Places You’ll Write!

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 14 comments
    Aug
    12

    TL;DR version: This week I’m wondering about the strangest place at/in which you’ve ever written. Where was it, how did it happen, did it work for you, and did you ever return? Spoiler alert: Mine is either in the middle of a graveyard or in the cereal aisle of a Charlestown, Massachusetts, grocery store. What’s yours? Let us know below.

     

    Sometimes inspiration comes in the most unlikely places. When that happens, are you prepared to pursue it?

    Like most writers, I have some go-to writing spots: two particular benches in Riverside Park; a favorite bar, dark and quiet during the day, darker and quieter at night; a specific seat at a specific Dunkin’ Donuts chain. The loft at my parents’ house. The Esplanade whenever I’m in Boston.

    These are places where I can sit still and write, while occasionally looking up to observe the things happening around me. read more

    Great Endings: Yours!

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Great Beginnings     Comments 23 comments
    Aug
    5

    TL;DR version: As a bookend to our “Great Beginnings: Yours!” post, we invite you to leave in the comments section the last line or lines or your work-in-progress. No context or explanation; just the words. And if you do so, it would be swell if you’d also provide feedback on another’s last lines. Go on and help a fellow writer out!

     

    Late last year we asked volunteers to share the opening line of their WIPs for some group feedback in a post called “Great Beginnings: Yours!” Over thirty of you did so, and it led to some pleasant conversation and fun reading.

    By now some of you have surely finished those WIPs, and so let’s skip ahead… all the way to the end. read more

    (Family) Secrets Secrets Are No Fun…

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Strategies     Comments 18 comments
    Jul
    23

    TL;DR version: Writing about family without stepping on feelings can be difficult. But when authenticity is at stake, which is more important: Loyalty to the narrative or loyalty to your loved ones? This week I want to discuss if/when writers have the right to take private matters public, and if so, whether or not we should pull our punches. Then at the end of the post I offer you a chance to choose my own adventure for me. Because, help!

     

    When writing about your family and/or friends, how do you strike a balance between writing honestly and sparing the feelings of your subjects? Is it possible to be both authentic and considerate? Is it a simple matter of knowing when to pull your punches versus when to swing full force?

    Every week we get at least one email or call from a writer wondering how to write about family without inflicting severe emotional damage and/or sowing discord. This week, the query comes from… me! Because I’m up against it myself. And I wrote a sort of choose your own adventure, and I’m curious to see which option you folks would go with. Or have gone with, since I know a lot of you have already worked through this topic.

    In other words: Help! read more

    A Midsummer Night’s Writing Goals Check-In

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 17 comments
    Jul
    15

    TL;DR version: Now that we’re halfway through the year, it’s time to check in once again with our 2017 writing goals. Are you halfway, or more, toward your goal? Are you struggling, and if so, how can we help? Let us know in the comments below. And if you want to make a new goal, complete the following sentence: “In what’s left of 2017, I will________”

     

    OK, so we’re not quite to midsummer, and we’re a few weeks past Midsummer, but last week I realized that we’re about halfway through 2017. Because I’m a math genius. And being the caring, thoughtful, all-around swell math genius that I am, I began to wonder how your 2017 writing goals are going.

    Maybe you told us about them in January, when you completed the sentence that began “In 2017 I will________”

    And/or perhaps you updated them in April, the last time we checked in with you.

    Well now here it is July (gulp) and we’re just over halfway through the year (gulp), and so I think this is the perfect time to see where we stand. read more

    The Texas Observer Short Story Contest

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments No comments
    Jul
    8

    I don’t have much to tell you about this week. I’ve been plugging away at my own project, and also helping put together the Texas Observer short story contest, our seventh year running. The winning writer gets $1,000 and publication in the Observer‘s October issue, as well as online. Finalists will also be eligible for online publication.

    This year’s guest judge is Deb Olin Unferth, author of four books and presently a creative writing professor at UT-Austin. Her recent story collection, Wait Till You See Me Dance, has gotten rave reviews from all corners.

    Deb tells us, “In short fiction I look for a voice that feels original, clear and urgent, and for a situation under pressure.”

    So keep that in mind, if you choose to enter. read more

    Q&A With Joe Giordano

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments 14 comments
    Jul
    1

    Today we’re pleased to run a Q&A with Austin author Joe Giordano, whose latest novel, Appointment with ISIL, an Anthony Provati Thriller, was released June 15 by Harvard Square Editions.

    We talked with Joe about the long road to publication, the publication process, and how it feels to release a new book out into the world.

    After the interview, check out Joe’s bio as well as some links to his work.

    Any questions for Joe? Leave ’em in the comments section below and we’ll see if we can’t bring him back here to provide some answers.

     

     

    WriteByNight: Can you give us some background on your career as a writer? How you got started, how long you’ve been at it, a bit about your publishing history?

    Joe Giordano: One of the positions I held before I became a writer was to run a business in Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa out of Athens. I developed a deep sense of history and the desire to write an historical fiction about the Ancient Greek-Persian Wars. Thirteen years ago, I tackled the task. My prose was terrible; I needed to learn how to write. read more

    Writing Exercise: TALK!

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Strategies     Comments No comments
    Jun
    24

    TL;DR version: This just in: People like to talk about themselves! That’s why this week’s writing exercise is to  conduct an in-person interview with anyone of your choice — family member, co-worker, stranger — and then write: a summary of the experience; a letter on the interviewee’s behalf to a new pen pal; or whatever you want, really. And let us know the results in the comments below.

     

    I’ve been working on a new writing project that includes oral interviews with a variety of people. And do you know what I’ve discovered? People like to talk about themselves!

    Astonishing, right?

    But here’s something that actually has been a surprise: In nearly every interview I’ve done so far, the subject has talked about something unrelated to the topic at hand but equally, if not more, interesting. read more

    June Story Club: A Crooked Still Life

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN Story Club     Comments 11 comments
    Jun
    17

    TL;DR version: Our second selection for the WBN Story Club is Margaret Malone’s essay ”A Crooked Still Life.” What follows is a bunch of gobbledygook about why I picked it, and then some instructions on how to participate. If you want to skip all of that, the link to the story is at the end of the post. Enjoy!

     

    Great work, story clubbers, in discussing our first entry, Tobias Wolff’s “Bullet in the Brain.” I think we did it justice. (They is, they is.)

    This month let’s do similar justice to a piece of nonfiction from an Oregon writer, Margaret Malone, which comes courtesy of a recommendation from WBNer Steve C.

    “A Crooked Still Life” was published in November 2013 by Oregon Humanities. It tracks Malone and her husband’s journey from Oregon to Boston, where he undergoes proton beam therapy to remove what remains of a tumor behind his left eye. read more

    Adriana Cloud on Bad Poetry, Inspiration and Reading Everything

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 10 comments
    Jun
    9

    TL;DR version: We’ve hired another talented writing consultant, London’s very own Adriana Cloud. In her Q&A, Adriana talks about bad high school poetry, writing through a lack of inspiration, and reading outside of the genre you’re working in. These are the things I want us to discuss this week. See the bolded “Your turn” sections for discussion questions.

     

    As you will have noticed if you regularly look for updates to our website — which, why wouldn’t you?! — we’ve taken on yet another talented writing consultant, Adriana Cloud. Adriana lives in London but received her M.F.A. at Emerson College in Boston, where she also worked for Harvard University Press and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Her chapbook is titled Instructions for Building a Wind Chime.

    Today I want us to discuss a few topics drawn from Adriana’s Q&A, which you can read here. read more

    Does Every Book Have a Lesson?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 20 comments
    Jun
    3

    TL;DR version: Is “reading like a writer” really a thing? Charles Baxter kinda/sorta says “Eh, not really”; Stephen King says every book has a lesson. What say you? This week in the comments below, I want us to discuss this concept of reading like a writer and how — if at all — you do it.

     

    Here at WriteByNight we’ve always been proponents of the idea of reading like a writer; of using reading as a tool to help us grow as writers, through learning what to do and what not to do, learning what works and what doesn’t work.

    But a recent interview with one of our favorite story writers, Charles Baxter, got me wondering if I actually do read like a writer, or if I just pay lip service to the idea.

    In the September 2016 issue of The Writer’s Chronicle, Baxter is asked to talk about what he has learned from some of his favorite writers.

    “This is a very American question,” he says, “with pragmatist assumptions. What do you ‘learn’ from your reading? In my case, sometimes nothing. Fiction doesn’t typically yield up lessons or tools for me. I know, I know: when we’re reading like writers, we’re always supposed to be learning something, but I’d rather just be taken away to Storyland.” read more

    One True Sentence

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 24 comments
    May
    27

    TL;DR version: WriteByNight’s newest writing consultant and coach, Robert McDowell, tells us that his favorite piece of writing wisdom comes from Ernest Hemingway, who wrote, “Write one true sentence.” But what does that mean? And how do we do it? That’s what I want to find out, from you. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

     

    In our continuing effort to provide you the best match possible for our one-on-one writers’ services, we’ve taken on a new writing consultant and coach, Robert McDowell. Robert served as an editor at Story Line Press for twenty-two years, and for ten years he co-edited the literary journal The Reaper. He’s also the author, co-author, translator and editor of four E-books and fifteen print books.

    In Robert’s Q&A, which you can (and should!) read here, he cites a famous line by Ernest Hemingway as his favorite piece of writing advice: “Write one true sentence.”

    But what does that mean? read more




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