My Subconscious: This Creative Writer’s Best Friend

I've written before about how our subconscious minds play a critical role in our creative process. That breakthrough insight you received recently in the shower? That was your subconscious, taking advantage of the fact that you were free from distraction (including our everpresent smartphones). For the past quarter-century or so, I've proactively asked my subconscious …

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Three Fundamentals to a Successful Writing Career

What makes one a successful writer? I was forced to contemplate that question yesterday morning while having brunch with friends from out of town. One of their daughters is a freshman at a prestigious liberal-arts college. She has no idea what she wishes to major in, but knows she loves to write. So she asked …

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Point of View: Did You Choose the Right One?

There's a great SNL skit from a few years ago where Tina Fey plays a rather trashy woman speaking into the camera to someone she knows: "I saw you on House Hunters. You picked the wrong house, bitch!" Without the vitriol, I find myself thinking that sometimes while reading a novel about the author's choice of point …

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Three Lessons I Learned While Writing a Novel First Draft

So the retreat to the Mojave Desert paid off, and I've now officially completed the first draft of my novel-in-progress. I started outlining the story this summer, and it has evolved significantly from first doodles to 110,000-word draft. As a published author and professional writer, I know the most important step is yet to come: …

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What is Your Writing Process? First Drafts

A non-writer may ask you, "How is your book coming?" A fellow writer may ask you, "What draft are you on?" To the first question I usually reply, "It's going well, thanks," and then quickly change the subject. To the second, my typical response is, "It depends." Many creative writers plow through their WIP in …

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Using Extended Metaphors in Your Writing — Part Three

Welcome to my final post on crafting an extended metaphor that runs the length of your creative writing. These lessons apply for fiction as well as nonfiction, but for the purposes of this series I've focused on examples from my recently published memoir, Committed: A Memoir of the Artist's Road. In Part One of this series …

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Using Extended Metaphors in Your Writing – Part One

One element of creative writing that I struggled with in my MFA program was the use of metaphor, particularly ones extended across long passages. I bemoaned my struggle from one of my Vermont College of Fine Arts residencies. But as I progressed in my studies I came to realize I was too hard on myself, …

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