• A Compenduhrum of Writing Wisdom, Vol. 1

    By on September 24, 2016 Posted in Inspiration     Comments 14 comments

    interview-905535__340I have this silly fantasy project in which I would read every single Paris Review interview ever done and compile all of my favorite responses into a rich compendium of writer wisdom and inspiration.

    I’d keep this compendium on my desk and reference it whenever I needed a motivational boost. (I would also sell it and become stupid rich, until I’m sued by the Paris Review and go right back to being stupid and poor.) (These are the kinds of thoughts that prevent me from getting done any real work.)

    I enjoy writer Q&As, when done right. I much prefer in-person or phone interviews, rather than email exchanges, which to me usually come off as unnatural, and often involve the interviewer writing unacceptably long questions, concerned mostly with showcasing his/her own writer wisdom for the reader. Inevitably those questions involve much more I than you. Were I feeling more churlish, I’d cite a few egregious examples. read more

    Staff Spotlight: Carin Clevidence

    By on September 14, 2016 Posted in WBN News & Events     Comments No comments

    Carin Clevidence, consultant and coachIt’s always refreshing to hear an accomplished writer tell the truth about how difficult this writing thing is. “I find all of writing hard!” says WriteByNight’s newest writing coach and consultant, Carin Clevidence. That honesty is one of the attributes that drew us to Carin. She doesn’t pretend to have rolled right out of bed and written a book.

    Though she has written a book, of course. In coverage of The House on Salt Hay Road, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Carin is described as having “a gift for creating images that express the unspeakable” (New York Times) and being “a breathtaking new American voice” (Jhumpa Lahiri). read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Donkeyman & Donkeywoman

    By on September 9, 2016 Posted in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 2 comments

    donkey-1342350_960_720Our latest Micro Fiction Challenge, “fizzle,” did just that. What happened, y’all? I picked a bad word? Nobody wanted to write about July Fourth fireworks fizzling out? You all think I’m some sort of donkeyman?

    Donkeyman. What a fun word to say. Try it out. Just one step away from assman. (Cosmo Kramer, anyone? The ASSMAN?)

    It sounds like a slur, but it’s actually a nautical term for someone who works in a ship’s engine room. Merriam-Webster says a donkeyman is responsible for running the donkey engine, also known as the steam donkey. From Joseph Conrad’s story “Typhoon”: “One of the stokers was disabled, the others had given in, the second engineer and the donkeyman were firing-up.”

    Oxford says donkeyman is “a man with responsibilities in a ship’s engine room.” A man. So if a woman were running (or manning) the steam donkey, would she be a donkeywoman? The only search results I get for “donkeywoman” are NSFW. Volumes have been written about the sexism in this here language.

    But in the Micro Fiction Challenge, succinctness reigns.

    read more

    4 More Writing Coach Monsters & How to Avoid Them

    By on September 2, 2016 Posted in Strategies     Comments 5 comments

    game-asset-call-1296507__180Some of our most beloved fictional characters are monsters: Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, Mr. Hyde. Grendel. Cthulu! Who doesn’t love Cthulu?

    (Which is your favorite literary monster? Let us know in a comment below.)

    The real world is full of monsters too, a point we touched on a couple of weeks ago with Part I of this post. A couple of you even shared with us your own experiences dealing with writing coach monsters, including Tom, whose writing coach showed Tom’s work — without authorization — to a third party. The horror!

    But if you thought there were only four types of writing coach monsters, you were terrifyingly mistaken.

    Here are four more writing coach monsters, as well as some tips on how to spot them and how to avoid them. read more

    My Favorite Thing About Coaching

    By on August 26, 2016 Posted in Inspiration     Comments 1 comment

    teacher-1276266_960_720September is known as “back-to-school month” here in the United States. Remember those trips to Kmart for pencil boxes and protractors and colored pencils? That mixture of anticipation for a new school year balanced with those feelings of “Aww damn it, summer’s over already and now I have to sit in social studies again”?

    August has also, in a way, been back-to-school month here at WBN, with our emphasis on coaching, its educational and practical value. Because in its own way, coaching is a form of school. A coaching session is a scheduled hour designed to help you learn how to become a stronger writer — and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than an MFA. Hell, you can even look at the writing you produce between sessions as homework. (But only if you want to!)

    In fact, one of my coachees signs off on his emails with “Your Student.” And at the end of each session he says, “OK, so what’s my assignment this week?”

    This past week, on top of the standard homework, we asked some of you to share with us your favorite aspect of coaching.

    Think of it as a sort of “My favorite part of summer vacation.” read more

    The Top 5 Reasons Writers Don’t Want to Pay for Writers’ Services

    By on August 20, 2016 Posted in Dos & Don'ts     Comments 12 comments

    vintage-842337__180It’s uncomfortable to talk about money: who has it, who needs it, how we spend it and why. But in my experience in both writing and life, the uncomfortable conversations are the most important ones to have (the birds and the bees, et al.).

    So, in the spirit of productive discomfort, today we’re going to tackle a crucial issue that comes up daily here at WriteByNight: the cost of writers’ services.

    Let’s be real: services cost money. Whether you’re having your car detailed, your apartment cleaned, your hair cut, or your health checked, you pay to access the expertise of another. This is specialization in action. You know how to do certain things, and don’t know how to do others. Thankfully, there’s someone out there who knows what you don’t.

    Intellectually we all know this, but our emotions are another story, and boy, are our feelings powerful. We can convince ourselves of all kinds of things to avoid spending dough, even when it’s on stuff we need — maybe especially then.

    What follows are the top five reasons writers don’t want to pay for writers’ services and — you guessed it — why it’s so important that you do: read more

    Is Your Writing Coach a Monster? Identifying 4 Types

    By on August 13, 2016 Posted in Strategies     Comments 11 comments

    zombie-367517_960_720In the seven years we’ve been providing one-on-one coaching services, we’ve heard an alarming amount of anecdotes from writers about other writing coaches they’ve hired and — for good reason — fired.

    These bad experiences are usually due to one of several writing coach monsters, four of which we want to identify today.

    How do you spot them and how do you avoid them? Read on to find out. If you’re brave enough. read more

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