• Creative Flow: Flowing Body, Flowing Mind

    By on January 20, 2017 Posted in Creative Flow     Comments 12 comments

    Today we offer the first post in a new series, “Creative Flow,” in which writer and creativity coach Sid Kemp will share some tips and tricks for creating and sustaining creative energy. –DD


    You probably know the feeling of creative flow, those times when words fly out of our fingers into the keyboard, or ink just pours out of the pen. Words arrive, we write them down and they feel right. It’s great, isn’t it?

    Creative flow can feel very different for each of us. My wife writes haiku, tanka, and other short-form poetry. Her flow is to write and post at least one poem a day. I also work with songwriters, Hollywood script writers, business writers, copy writers, bloggers, and fiction writers.

    Every one of us feels the flow in a different way.

    Some writers can even feel different kinds of flow based on what they’re working on. I write short stories and novels, and I’ve noticed that, for each one, the creative flow feels different. read more

    Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

    By on January 13, 2017 Posted in Strategies     Comments 16 comments

    Yesterday was a sunny and gorgeous winter day in New York City, topping out at near 65 degrees. It was so warm that in the afternoon I visited my spring/summer/fall writing spot, a series of benches overlooking Riverside Park, the West Side Highway and the Hudson.

    (The writing didn’t go well, but the experience was a pleasure.)

    While walking back home I passed a dude lying along the rock ledge pictured at left. I didn’t snap a photo of him, because creepy. But he was horizontal, on his back, his head on the hard wall, holding aloft a notebook in his left hand and writing in it with his right. To his left, a 25-foot drop (pictured below). An aggressive human or gust of wind or a surprise tremor and he’s a goner.

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a more uncomfortable-looking position in which to write. read more

    My Favorite Books of 2016

    By on January 6, 2017 Posted in WBN News & Events     Comments 26 comments

    tl;dr summary: A few of my favorite books of the year. I also want to hear about your favorite books from 2016 (even if you wrote them!). Leave titles and descriptions in the comments below, because we’re always looking for new good books to read. Doing so enters you into a drawing to win one of three copies of Martin Barkley’s The Lovesong of Smith Oliver Smith.



    Throughout 2016 I did my best to leave behind words such as “good” and “bad” when talking about art. Rather, like my pal Drew in this Electric Lit essay, I’m trying to express (and feel) non-judgmental opinions. “I enjoyed that book” is more helpful than “That’s a good book.” “I didn’t enjoy that book” is stronger than “That’s a bad book,” even if it doesn’t seem so.

    As Drew writes, “Better we should surrender to our own idiosyncratic preferences, embracing that rather than ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ works of art might be more fittingly characterized as ‘for me’ or ‘not for me.’ Or  —  because, who knows, I might still change my mind about Infinite Jest  — ‘for me right now’ or ‘not for me right now.'”

    All this is to say that what follows is a list, in no particular order, of the books I most enjoyed reading in 2016. (None were published in 2016; this is by coincidence, not intent.) read more

    In 2017, You Will!

    By on December 30, 2016 Posted in Inspiration     Comments 55 comments

    This is our final post of 2016.

    It’s a simple one.

    I want only one thing from each of you.

    And that one thing is for you to fill in the blank with a response involving writing and/or reading:


    “In 2017 I will _____________________”

    read more

    Happy Holidays Brain Dump

    By on December 23, 2016 Posted in WBN News & Events     Comments 11 comments

    Last week we had a fun conversation about getting work done during your holiday travels. Now, for many of us, those travels are here. Report in, let us know how you’re doing! Don’t let yourself be stuck in what Zadie Smith in On Beauty calls “seasonal prisons”:

    “This, after all, was the month in which families began tightening and closing and sealing; from Thanksgiving to the New Year, everybody’s world contracted, day by day, into the microcosmic single festive household, each with its own rituals and obsessions, rules and dreams. You didn’t feel you could call people. They didn’t feel they could phone you. How does one cry for help from these seasonal prisons?”

    But even in family prison, a big communal meal over the holidays can make one’s problems go away, at least momentarily. As Oscar Wilde said, “After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”

    Although note that he said “after” rather than “during.” Curious! read more

    Holidays, Family & Writing

    By on December 17, 2016 Posted in Strategies     Comments 14 comments

    Last week, a whole lot of you banded together to share the opening lines from your works-in-progress and give each other some encouragement. It made me happy. Like a warm, fuzzy community sort of feeling. Kind of like I (sometimes) feel during the holidays. Which … my oh my, will you look at the time.

    For the next few days, I’d like love for us all to help each other by sharing some tips and tricks for maintaining your writing momentum during the holidays.

    (To skip my stuff and learn how to get help and/or help others, scroll to the last paragraph.) read more

    Great Beginnings: Yours!

    By on December 9, 2016 Posted in Great Beginnings     Comments 65 comments

    (To get to the point, skip to the bolded section.)

    I’m just about to undertake my inaugural reading of Mary Shelley’s classic monster novel, Frankenstein. Consider it an attempt to get into the holiday spirit. And/or a result of our recent binge-watch of Penny Dreadful. And/or I have a number of trusted friends who consider this to be among the best books they’ve ever read, and I’m suffering from this very specific brand of FOMO. Call it FOMOOF.

    Anyway. The first line made me think it’d be a great candidate for Great Beginnings. It makes the reader ask about seventeen different questions, which is a wonderful way to ensure that he/she will read the second line.

    But rather than turn this week’s post into a discussion of Romantic/gothic literature — and in the spirit of the somewhat communal setting of the story’s conception — we thought it would be more fun to turn it into a celebration of two of our favorite things: Opening lines and you. read more

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