Posts Categorized: The Writing Process

How Structured Writing Assignments Can Unleash Creativity

In July of 2011, I was beginning the third semester of my MFA program, and I had some very definite goals.  I was going to start a new teaching job, so I knew the first few months of the school year would be especially busy.   To make the beginning of the year more manageable, I… Read more »

Getting into Character

When I was in high school and college, I took some drama classes and acted in a bunch of plays.  I always enjoyed being part of a cast and performing on stage, and I liked the exercise of attempting to become a character—figuring out her relationships with other people, her formative experiences, her motivation onstage,… Read more »

Tension, and Conflict, and Antagonists–Oh My!

I am starting to revise my novel-in-progress after getting some insightful feedback from two smart and generous first readers.  I’m working on increasing the tension and conflict in the second half of the novel (among other things), so I’m thinking a lot about antagonists. Now if you know me, you probably know that I don’t… Read more »

On Setting and Sharks: My Research Trip to Nantucket

A little over a year ago, I put aside the novel I’d been working on during the first year of my MFA program to start something new.  After reading an inspiring blog post by E. Lockhart on Cynsations about where fiction comes from, I had the seed of a new idea.  I had a clear… Read more »

On Learning New Things

During my third semester at Vermont College of Fine Arts, my wonderful advisor Mary Quattlebaum gave me prompts to spark short writing exercises she called wordplays.  At one point, she asked me to write a wordplay about a time from my childhood or adolescence when I was learning something that didn’t come easily to me,… Read more »

Writing by Hand

I set an ambitious writing goal this summer.  Spurred on by my enthusiastic MFA classmates, I decided that I would try to complete a draft of my young adult novel Rebound by August 31.  I think I’m going to make my deadline, but if I’d counted on sitting in front of my computer and banging… Read more »

Commonplace Books: A Tool for Writers and Teachers

As I’m gearing up for the school year to begin, I’ve been doing my summer reading assignments.  First, I read Moying Li’s Snow Falling in Spring: Coming of Age in China During the Cultural Revolution, which is required reading for rising seventh and eighth graders, and then I slowly made my way through the required… Read more »

Literary Meat or Poison?

A little over a year ago, I read Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande, which was published in 1934 but still feels timely. There are many things I appreciate about this book (and if you’d like you can access the full text of it here), but I especially love the frank and funny life advice… Read more »