• Tom’s a Good Farmer

    By on September 17, 2017 Posted in Inspiration     Comments 3 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

    By on September 9, 2017 Posted in Strategies     Comments 5 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

    By on August 26, 2017 Posted 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

    By on August 19, 2017 Posted 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!

    By on August 12, 2017 Posted 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!

    By on August 5, 2017 Posted in Great Beginnings     Comments 22 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…

    By on July 23, 2017 Posted 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


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