5 easy ways to trigger a growth spurt in your writing

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How’s your spring going? This season feels like the real start of the year to me, with all the bursting, blossoming and waking from the inwardness of winter. It caught me in its gusts recently, and launched me into the kind of writing I’d been missing—unexpected and interesting to me and, most of all, fun. […]

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The art of beginning: Getting to ‘escape velocity’

Lately I’ve been obsessed with the idea of escape velocity, the amount of energy it takes to break free of gravity and launch yourself into space—or, in my case, the writing of a book.  I’m starting a new one, and as I return to the blank page, it’s as though almost everything I know about […]

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This writing business could get messy. (It’s supposed to.)

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If you’re making notes daily, observing the world and writing ten or fifteen minutes at a time, your collection of lines may not seem like much at first. You may have a glowing jarful of fireflies when you look one day, and swear the next that all you’ve got is sweater lint. So hold off […]

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A simple trick for winning the war with distraction

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Here’s a quiz. You hit a snag in something you’re writing at work. Do you: a. Power through and keep going? b. Get up and walk around? c. Click away to your e-mail or the Web? I’m guessing C. That quick and easy avenue of escape is so pervasive it’s part of the rhythm of […]

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Tech tools for a 10-minute writing practice: Evernote

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For years, Evernote, the note-taking/organizing program, was on the edge of my consciousness. I scanned articles about it, heard people rave about it, and then ignored it. Anything with whole books and websites devoted to its nuances, I figured, was probably more trouble than it was worth. But it turned out to be exactly what […]

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Your writing’s trying to tell you what it wants—tales from George Saunders and L.A. spring

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It’s the equinox as I write this, and I’m caught up in the way this moment in Southern California tips us into full bloom. Last night I walked through a friend’s front yard while he gave me a tour of the “orchard” set against two side fences. It was a scattering of trees, some mere […]

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Running dragons, and other mascots for a busy life

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There are stories that keep me coming back to my small-scale writing practice in busy times, rather than “waiting till things calm down.” One comes from the wonderful poet Marie Ponsot, who shook me awake in a workshop at the 92nd Street Y when she described how she continued to write during the years she was rearing […]

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Tech tools for ‘small practice’ writers. #1: Listhings

If you’re working in 15-minute sessions, as many of us are, it’s easy to wind up with writing scattered through various notebooks and computer files. Organization helps, and tech tools can make it easy. I’ll run through a few in the coming weeks. Here’s one that helps make writing feel more like play. * Listhings. The basic […]

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Following the mystery: We’re all going to Graceland.

My DVR decided recently that I needed to watch a documentary about Paul Simon and the making of his “Graceland” album. It was a happy accident—I’ve loved those songs for years. They accompanied me on a long-ago train ride that wound along the edge of the country from Seattle to Washington, D.C., days and nights […]

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10-minute writing excursions

So you’ve found a small slot in your schedule for writing, a bit of “transition time” between activities that will give you a foothold as you build a writing practice. How will you switch gears from life or work craziness to “writer’s mind”? Try this. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for free updates.

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