My Thoughts, The Writer's Life

Once Again, With Feeling: The Empty Page

Life happens. And then it keeps happening. And by the time it starts to happen a little less – by the time you might actually have a little mental space for thinking thoughts and time space to write them down – you realize you’re used to the empty page, at peace with the simplicity of having written nothing. The blog light grows dim, the empty page becomes an empty stage. There are no actors in the wings. No orchestra in the pit. No director pacing back and forth scribbling notes in his head. But there are people in the audience.…

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My Thoughts, The Writer's Life

The Other Authors

Writing is a lonely business. This does not come as a surprise to you. Whether you write in the midnight quiet of a room lit only by the glow of your laptop, or in a crowded coffee shop exploding with sound and color and scent, you do it alone. No one shares your headspace when you’re trying to choreograph the tapping of fingers on keyboard with the spin and leap of ideas. A writer, while writing, dances alone. There is exhilaration and debilitation in this truth. That a man, woman or child can organize words gathered from a thousand places into a…

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My Thoughts, The Writer's Life

Better Than You Think

The first time you ran into a wall it came as a surprise. Not because you didn’t believe in walls, but because you didn’t know they could appear in the middle of a sentence. But you broke through it like the Kool-Aid Man, with the same broad smile, the same blatant disregard for plaster and paint. Because you were a writer and that’s what writers do. They persist. And persist you did. Through the next wall and the next, until one day you hesitated. Do other writers run into this many walls? you wondered.  Writing used to be about ideas and dreams.…

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My Thoughts, Writing tips

Good Advice/Bad Advice

Most people will tell you there are two kinds of writing advice: Good Advice and Bad Advice. I’m here to tell you they’re the same thing. Allow me to explain. Let’s start with that ol’ “Kill Your Adverbs” chestnut. This is Good Advice. Adverbs, more often than not, are redundant. You don’t need to tell me the monkey screamed loudly. Screaming is, by its very nature, loud. Just let the monkey scream. We’ll cover our ears. Adverbs also tend to be evidence of lazy writing. If your context doesn’t reveal the protagonist’s anxiety, simply stating that he’s “pacing anxiously” because…

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My Thoughts, The Writer's Life

Welcome to the Club

Sometimes I watch the Twitter-stream and think the New Digital World is a beautiful place. A place of generosity. A place of kindness. In the Sometimes you can almost hear people listening, nodding, patiently waiting their turn to add to the chorus. In the Sometimes, the digital shell dissolves and we’re in a small room together, face to face. You mention a book. I say I know that book. You say isn’t it the best? I say it’s brilliant. I sip my orange juice (it’s morning here). You sip your wine (it’s evening there). How’s that novel of yours coming…

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My Thoughts

The Worst Book Ever. Or Not.

“Coldplay sucks!” I had my car window open (as required between blizzards by Colorado law). Mylo Xyloto was playing on a recently-purchased stereo that had doubled* the value of my 2000 Jetta. I didn’t see who shouted it. Probably not the elderly woman on the sidewalk who was attached by a taut pink leash to a matching taut pink poodle. And surely not the five-year-old doing donuts on his Big Wheel in the driveway across the street. It’s a pretty safe bet the Chris Martin hate came from someone in the huddle of teenagers admiring their generation’s ironic muscle car, a tricked…

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My Thoughts, The Writer's Life, Writing tips

A Word, Please

Think of a word you don’t like – one that makes you squirm. Sure, it could be a common word like “moist” or “chalky,” but choose something edgier – something you almost never say in real life. Got it? Okay, have a seat. Your word would like to have a word with you. Word: Hey. You: Um…hey? Word: Do you know why you’re here? You: Not exactly. Word: We need to talk about me. You: I don’t think we do. Word: Oh, right. This is where you tell me you don’t need me; that you never need me. You: Um…yeah.…

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