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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Giving Yourself Permission to Write

Many of my Twitter peeps are deep into #NaNoWriMo right now, this masochistic movement every November where writers produce a full first draft of a novel in 30 days. I'm exhausted just writing that sentence. While I've been an on-and-off creative writer for nearly three decades now, I've never participated in NaNoWriMo. Part of it …

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What is Your Writing Process? Writing in Order

Many fiction authors seem to have a preference in writing a novel; they either must write the book in order from beginning to end, or they must follow their muse where it leads them, writing ahead as needed. It appears there is consensus among novelists for a beginning-to-end approach, however. That would be consistent with …

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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 Your Subconscious as a Ghostwriter

As I've discussed my return to creative writing with others, I'm frequently asked if it's hard to get back into the groove. No, I respond, because I have a ghostwriter who does the hard work of plotting, scene construction, character development, and revision. I simply take dictation. The process I'm referring to is tapping into …

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The Creative Writer Returns

I'm back! It's been a bit more than three years since I last posted to The Artist's Road. I launched the blog in 2010 to chart a path that I had set for myself to return to an art-committed life. Over the next five years I earned an MFA, won a few creative writing awards, …

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A Survivor’s Guide to AWP

It's one of the largest annual gatherings of creative writers, publishers, and educators in the United States--usually well in excess of 10,000 attendees--and the largest such event for literary writers. Once again I'll be attending the AWP Conference & Bookfair, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs' annual extravaganza. This year the hordes will be …

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When Your Art-Committed Life is at Low Tide

For more than four years I've blogged here about the "challenges and rewards of living an art-committed life," as the mini-bio to the right says. I launched this blog in part to keep me honest, to ensure I wouldn't once again stray from the creative path. A question I've been asking myself this winter, as …

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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 Two

Extended metaphors in prose resonate with the reader, even if she isn't sure what it is the author has done to trigger that resonance. In Part One of this series I explained that making use of a recurring metaphor advances both plot and character development. We looked at how to identify a key theme that needs …

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