• Browsing all articles in ABCs of Writing

    Drinking While Writing

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 31 comments
    Mar
    23

    Discussion questions: What’s your take on “Write drunk, edit sober”? Do you drink or use drugs while writing? If so, how does it influence your work, your process, or your approach? If you don’t, why don’t you? If you used to drink while writing, why did you stop? Let us know in the comments. Use a fake name if you’d prefer. read more

    “I Am a Writer!” Your Aha Moment

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 39 comments
    Mar
    17

    Discussion questions: Do you remember your “aha moment” as a writer? The moment where you realized, for the first time, or acknowledged to yourself for the first time, that you are a writer, and that writing will play a prominent role in your life? Or are you still waiting on it? Tell us about it below. read more

    Your Ideal Writing Space

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 24 comments
    Mar
    9

    Discussion questions: What does your ideal writing space — or maybe your ideal writing retreat — look like? Is it in your home, or away from home? Describe your surroundings. What are you writing on? What are you writing with? How much contact do you have with the outside world? How many hours per day do you write? For how long are you there? read more

    Do You Like to Write?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 42 comments
    Mar
    2

    Critique Group

    Discussion questions: Share your thought on the following quote, attributed often to Dorothy Parker, as well as Frank Norris, George R.R. Martin, and loads of others: “I hate writing, but I love having written.” How do you feel about the act of writing? Is it torture or is it a pleasure? Or does your answer change with every session? read more

    Encouragement From Writing Teachers

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 25 comments
    Feb
    16

    Discussion questions: What words of encouragement from your writing teachers have kept you going through hard times? Do you think great writing can be taught? What specific lessons on craft do you remember being taught to you by specific writing teachers, and in what ways have they been helpful? Let me know in the comments below. read more

    Your Favorite 2018 Reading Experience

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 34 comments
    Feb
    2

     

    Discussion question: What was your favorite reading experience of 2018? When the combination of the book and your setting and/or circumstances was just right? Tell me about it in the comments.

     

    Last week on my podcast, Yak Babies, me and my pals talked about our favorite new books from 2018. Not necessarily published in 2018; just books we read for the first time and enjoyed thoroughly.

    I chose George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo, a book that knocked me flat when I read it on a beach in Mexico, at which point I turned back to Page 1 and immediately reread it.

    It wasn’t my favorite 2018 book, but it was my favorite, and definitely most vivid and lasting, 2018 reading experience. read more

    Outlining Schmoutlining: How Do You Organize Your Writing?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 23 comments
    Jan
    26

     

    Discussion questions: Do you outline your writing projects? If so, how closely do you stick to that outline while you write? Or do you, like me, start with very little direction and try to write your way into a story? And what is your approach? 

     

    While we’re on this jag about organization (see: “Losing Your Writing, Vol. 2” and “Organizing Your Files“), I thought it might be interesting to talk about organization within our writing projects.

    As I’ve mentioned, I recently finished Chapter 1 of my novel. Then I lost it when my computer died, and for the next week and a half I waited to see if the dude at the computer repair shop could recover it.

    Many writers in that situation would move on to Chapter 2.

    I couldn’t do that, because I don’t outline. read more

    Organizing Your Files and Pages and Notes and Stuff

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 34 comments
    Jan
    19

     

    Discussion questions: When you have work/writing/notes scattered all over your living space and work space, how do you keep it organized, and how do you know where to find what you need? I’m talking computer files, index cards, random scraps of paper, photographs, notes scribbled in margins of books. Or do you have a good way to avoid descending into such chaos to begin with? Let me know in the comments below.

     

    After last week’s chaos involving my lost chapter, and all of your wonderful feedback on how to avoid future such catastrophes–organizing external storage on Google Drive, flash drives, etc.–I started thinking about organization in general.

    If you’re anything like me, you have work/writing scattered everywhere. If you’re even more like me, too often you don’t know where to find what you need. read more

    Losing Your Writing, Vol. 2

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 27 comments
    Jan
    12

     

    Discussion questions: What do you use/do to back up your work? What’s your most horribly horrific horror story involving lost writing? Let me know in the comments below.

     

    I owe some work to my new writing group, and the new group coincides with a re-envisioning of my fiction: What started as a novel and then became a linked story collection is now again a novel.

    So on Saturday I sat myself down, wrote Chapter 1 at the top of the page, and dove in.

    Monday afternoon, after about six hours of work over three days, I had a 2,500-word chapter.

    Not only that, it felt like a good chapter. Something that, after a small amount of revision, I’d be comfortable sharing with the bunch of strangers that make up my new group.

    Monday night, my computer died. The photo above? Of the sad faces behind what looks like prison bars? That was the graphic on the screen that led me to believe that this experience was not going to end well.

    And it didn’t. My computer is unfixable, and the file, my new Chapter 1, is unrecoverable. read more

    In 2019, You Will!

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 16 comments
    Jan
    5

    Happy 2019, WriteByNighters! I feel like this is going to be our best year yet. Are you feeling the same?

    And what better way to kick it off than to talk about what we want to accomplish as writers and readers.

    “Resolutions” can be an intimidating word; if you prefer not to, don’t use it. Goals. Wants. Hopes. However you phrase it, I want to hear what you’d like to achieve between now and December 31.

    Our tradition has been to ask you to complete the following sentence:

    “In 2019, I will _______”

    But “will” is edging into resolution territory, so this year, let’s try something new:

    “In 2019, I _______” read more

    Your 2018 Writing Accomplishments

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 28 comments
    Dec
    29

    I was planning on doing our annual writing goals post for this week, but I think I want to push that off to next week and instead allow us all a minute to acknowledge the great things we did in 2018.

    If you set a 2018 literary resolution, did you hit it, or at least make good progress toward it?

    (Maybe you announced it in the comments of 2018’s goals post?)

    Did you grow and improve as a writer? As a reader?

    What was your greatest literary achievement in 2018? The thing you’re most proud of as a writer and/or a reader? read more

    The Best Part of Self-Publishing Your Book

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 4 comments
    Dec
    15

    In last week’s post, “The Hardest Part of Self-Publishing Your Book,” a few WriteByNighters took the time to discuss with us the pitfalls they had to jump across during the process of self-publishing their books.

    This week, those same WriteByNighters have given even *more* of their time to tell us about the most rewarding parts of self-publishing. 

    read more

    The Hardest Part of Self-Publishing Your Book

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 2 comments
    Dec
    8

    Since announcing our new publication assistance services, we’ve received more than the usual amount of questions about self-publishing, particularly: What is the hardest part of self-publishing your book and are there any easy parts?

    We figured who better to pose these questions to than WriteByNight clients with real-world experience. Four helpful writers responded: Dana Frank, Assaf Raz, Dan Hays, and Marcia Drut-Davis.

    We’ll tackle the “easy” part next week, but for this week we’re going to start with the hard stuff. read more

    Here Comes 2019! And Why Do You Write?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 9 comments
    Dec
    1

    2019 — and its attendant resolutions — is less than a month away.

    That means you have four solid weeks to come up with your new writing goals.

    If you partake of such things! Not all of us do. I go back and forth. Some years I set a vague goal such as “Get better!” or “Write more!” Some years, no goal at all. For 2018, according to this post where I, and some of you, shared our 2018 writing goals, I wanted to “complete a draft of the book I began writing in May.”

    lol. read more

    Franzen Folderol

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 16 comments
    Nov
    17

    The other day LitHub published a piece titled “Jonathan Franzen’s 10 Rules for Novelists,” borrowed from Jonathan Franzen’s new essay collection.

    It caused some hubbub.

    Literary Twitter went nuts. Writers and readers piled on Franzen, calling his list pretentious, narrow-minded, and/or just plain ridiculous. Chuck Wendig, to the delight of many, went on a long rant.

    Others argued that the piece is taken out of context and say that Franzen’s publicists were just trying to promote the book. Some even claimed the list is meant to be satire. (It may be. I’ve never read Franzen, so I’m not familiar enough to comment.)

    Anyway, agree with the list (or parts of it) or not, there are two of them I want to dig into, especially here in mid-November, halfway through NaNoWriMo. read more

    On NaNoWriMo, NaNoReMo, and Mo’

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 13 comments
    Nov
    4

    National Novel Writing MonthShow of hands: Who’s doing NaNoWriMo this year?

    Before I got wise, I thought NaNoWriMo stood for National November Writing Month. Which doesn’t make a ton of sense.

    But as most of you know, it’s really National Novel Writing Month, during which thousands of writers vow to write every day and have a first draft of a novel by November 30, a.k.a. my birthday, what should be a national holiday.

    I won’t be NaNoWriMoing, but I will be NaShoStoWriMoing. My old accountability partner and I are restarting our thing, and my goal is to each week write a first draft of one new short story and revise one old story.

    Roll call: Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Have you done it before? Did it work? Tell us about your approach and process in the comments. read more

    Observations on Books & Reading in Ireland

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 7 comments
    Oct
    28

    Justine and I spent a week in Ireland in mid-October, half in Sligo on the northwest coast, half in Dublin. We visited about a dozen bookstores and libraries and took note as best we could of the literary culture. Here are a few (hopefully not lame) observations:

     

    1. Two of the Dublin bookstores we stopped at mark their books up from the cover price. I don’t mean hard-to-find first editions–I mean trade or mass market paperbacks of new or recent books. These stores place their own price tag sticker over the price printed on the book.

    One book whose cover price was 10 Euro was marked 15.50. That’s a $6 markup!

    Your turn: Have you ever seen this anywhere in the States? Is it a turn-off, or do you not mind? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below.

     

    2. Few new releases in Ireland (and the UK, since that’s where most of them are published) seem to come in hardcover. Most of them are trade paperbacks that are just a little taller than the standard trade. I like this. They’re also less expensive than the U.S.’s $25-30 per.

    Your turn: Do you like hardcovers or do you wish U.S. new releases came in paperback? read more

    Your Top 6 Questions About Publishing

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 2 comments
    Oct
    13

    After last week’s announcement of our three new publication assistance services, a few readers reached out with questions about publication, and we answered ’em, because that’s why we’re here.

    But when it comes to publishing, many writers have questions, and many writers have the same questions, so I grabbed the six most popular (actually, it’s kind of seven; I’m cheating a little) to answer here today.

    Some are about self-publishing, some are about traditional vs. self- vs. hybrid, some are about WriteByNight’s role in the process (spoiler alert: We don’t publish books! But we can help you find a publisher). All of them are questions we’ve heard more than a few times each, so chances are that you’ve wondered about one or two of them yourself.

    If you have any questions about publication that we haven’t answered here, leave ’em in the comments and we’ll respond. read more

    Who Are Today’s Top Horror Writers?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 13 comments
    Sep
    29

    I’ve just finished (and loved) reading Frankenstein for the first time, a discussion of which you can listen to for Yak Babies (my books podcast) October Spooktacular, a series of episodes about horror books, movies, games, and more.

    Now I’m in the mood to read more horror, both old and new, as Halloween approaches. But I need help.

    I have a few classics I’ve never read but plan to, including DraculaThe Haunting of Hill House, and Dorian Gray.

    I might also revisit a few American gothic favorites such as Edgar HuntlySleepy Hollowand maybe some Hawthorne short stories.

    As for contemporary horror, I’m looking for some new names. That’s where you come in. read more




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