Archive for the ‘Writing Tips’ Category

Before Scaling the Heights of your Rewrite…

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Manuscript MountainSo, after weeks, months, or even years, you have finally completed your first draft. Congratulations! Crack open the champagne, throw a party, fly to Paris! However you choose to celebrate, I’m sure you deserve it. Writing is hard work; you are literally blazing a trail into the uncharted wilds of the human imagination. This is why getting to “The End” can feel like you’ve just clawed your way to the top of Mt. Everest.

Of course, this isn’t the case, and in the back of your mind you know the terrible truth—you’ve only just made it to the first base camp. But celebrate anyway because the really arduous, death-defying work of the rewrite still lies ahead and it will most assuredly leave you too pooped to party by the time you reach the summit.

To help chart the course for your rewrite, here are a few navigational tools that will help you negotiate the rugged terrain that lies ahead: (more…)

A Sentence

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

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“This, too, is America: two middle-aged women, one North American and one Central American, eating cheese and apples in campsite #4 of the Mountain View Campground on Little Redfish Lake.”

I wrote this sentence in a notebook six years ago as I began a writing project that would become the soon-to-be-published Trout Frying in America: A Literary Pilgrimage (Ooligan Press, spring 2015). The sentence did not make it to the final manuscript. It did not even make it into the first draft because, by the time I sat down to write the scene in which Arline and I picnicked in the campsite where Richard Brautigan and his wife and baby stayed in 1961, the idea I was trying to express no longer fit the scene. (more…)

Drano Dreams and the Writing Mind

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

I went nine months without REM sleep.

This must be an exaggeration (me? exaggerate?). I recall a general truth that a few nights without REM leads to insanity.

So maybe it’s not an exaggeration.

What I know is that suddenly, for the past few nights, I’ve swirled deeply once more into the darkness of REM: I’ve had to perform in a play for which I’ve not read the script, which I have to (unsuccessfully) piece together from crumpled up wads of paper before hitting the stage (thankfully not naked). (more…)

15 Minutes

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

doughnut

 

“Just bring a notebook with you wherever you go,” Erika said and then took a bite of the sea salt caramel glazed doughnut we were sharing, followed by a slug of coffee.

Erika Schickel and I were having breakfast at an impossibly hip diner in downtown Los Angeles; one that I joked was way too cool for my nerdy self.

“We’ll become hip by osmosis,” Erika assured me. “Who knows, we might even walk out of here with tattoos and beards.” (more…)

Notes on Creative Discouragement

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

A month ago I had a couple of off-weeks, then those gave way to a few weeks of tremendous creativity, followed by a period of scaling back (which may very possibly lead into yet another off-phase). I have long known that creativity comes in cycles, but this particular round of the cycle has been very straightforward to track, and I’m sure it’s because we’re more settled now than we have been in years — we’ve been in this apartment just over four months, which is the longest we’ve lived anywhere since late 2011. That’s very strange.* Without all the other factors getting in the way, it’s much easier to observe myself just moving in and out of the phases of the cycle, almost constantly feeling quite different than I did just a week ago.

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