Questions to Ask Yourself When You’ve Lost Motivation

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When you feel unmotivated to work on a project, are procrastinating endlessly, and just can’t seem to get unstuck, it may be time to pause and reflect on what’s really blocking you, and to reconnect with feelings of possibility and accomplishment. Try this: Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Breathe deeply several times. Allow your mind to slow down, and your body to relax. Bring to mind a current project where you are feeling unmotivated or stuck. Keep breathing. Without judging, note how you’re feeling, emotionally and physically in your body. Then ask yourself the following questions, allowing yourself space …

Friday Favorites: Hitting the Third Rail

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I haven’t done a Friday Favorites post in a while, because I haven’t been reading that many books on craft. My view is that craft books are useful, in small doses. Sometimes they are good for inspiration, and sometimes they are good to help with a specific issue you are having in your work. It’s important not to get so heavily invested in reading about writing that you fail to actually do the writing. I’ve had a couple of books kicking around for a while, and at the urging of some friends who have read them I decided to pull …

Friday Favorites: TED Secrets for Writers

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Unleash the Master Within – Or, be passionate about what you write. With mastery of your material comes confidence that allows your passion to shine through. Nothing takes the place of having a real passion for the story you’re telling. And if you don’t have a passion for writing itself, for communicating your ideas through the written word, you will give up easily. Master the Art of Storytelling – Stories are compelling to the human brain. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, using stories to make your point allows audiences to respond to what you’re telling them. Stories are how …

Gift Ideas: Best Books for Creatives

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‘Tis the season, when many people are thinking of buying gifts (and if you sneak in a little something for yourself, why not?). This list of 10 of the Best Books on Creativity from Signature is a great place to start. Of course, I also have a ton of books for writers in particular – but sometimes it’s good to just read something focused on creativity in general. And in the case of several of the books above, there are exercises and activities that force you to actually do something, not just think about it. Stepping out of your particular …

Friday Favorites: The War of Art

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Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art is not just for writers. It’s a book for anyone who wants to overcome their Resistance to doing anything, whether it be a creative art form, exercising, starting a business, etc. As he says at the beginning of the book, “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: it’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”* I don’t know as I agree that the writing is the easy part – it’s …

Friday Favorites: Artist Date

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This past weekend, I took myself on an Artist Date. I went to Figment, a multi-media, interactive art event held at the Greenway in downtown Boston. There were all kinds of things to do – I added to a collective mosaic, abstract-painted in a group, contributed to a large chalkboard with the words, “Before I Die, I Want To…,” watched jugglers, listened to a HONK! Band (made up of various instruments and crazy costumes), watched kids making art, saw body-painted women posing for sketches, walked through the Silly Walks zone… it was a lot of fun, and reminded me that …

Write It Down, Make It Happen

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I came across this article a while ago, about how one of my favorite authors, Octavia Butler, wrote out her success before she had it. She wrote exactly what she wanted to accomplish: the awards, the bestseller lists, and why she wrote. If you haven’t read anything by Octavia Butler, she wrote science fiction as a black woman in a world of mostly white, mostly male writers. She succeeded in topping numerous bestseller lists, and won major awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship Genius Grant – the first science fiction writer to do so. (Read the article for a fuller list …

Friday Favorites from the MFA Residency

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One of the great things about being involved with an MFA program is the kinds of conversations you get to have about writing, and all the books and resources people mention that they’ve found useful or inspiring. So today, I’m going to share with you some of the bits and pieces that have come up over the last week or so. Bull – by David Elliott. A retelling of the myth of the Minotaur, in verse. With a very funky (and profane) Poseidon as narrator. He read from it and it was hilarious (of course – it’s by David!). Not …

Critique Groups 101

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I’m excited because this weekend my MFA alumni critique group is meeting. We’ve been getting together for five years now, with slightly different configurations of people. The one thing we have in common is that we’ve been through Lesley University’s MFA program in creative writing. We didn’t all graduate at the same time, or in the same genre, and some of us have branched out to other genres over the years. We meet about three times per year, in someone’s house, for a day-long workshopping extravaganza. Writers write in isolation, and often work for years before gaining any audience for …