I love this podcast about the muse! After listening to the podcast, try the following for a writing prompt: Imagine having a conversation with your muse. What would you say? What might he or she say in return? Would you have a gripe session? A moment of gratitude? Try writing everything in dialogue and set the scene.
Visit RadioLab’s website to listen to Me, Myself, and Muse
Description on the website: Imagine you’re a writer, but the words won’t come. Could you bargain with creativity to get past your writer’s block? Oliver Sacks found himself in that very situation back in 1968: he was struggling to finish his first book, and got stuck. He imposed a deadline on himself that, while it got him writing again, came with a terrible cost. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat Pray Love…one of the most popular books ever), wanted to find a way to, as she puts it, “live a creative life without cutting your ear off.” She offers some advice for doing battle with your muse, and explains why she believes your muse wants you to fight back.
The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact words, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.” – Robert Cormier
I created a revision handout for one of my composition classes that comes from the book Deep Revision by Meredith Sue Willis. Every time I use this with a class I’m reminded how useful the ideas are for my own work whether fiction or creative nonfiction. Here are some of the ideas you can give a try:
- Enrich your draft. Go back to what you have written and add details to the beginning, middle, and end. Write in the margins, between lines, and add new passages. The objective is to add material throughout the draft, material such as sense impressions. (What gesture did she use when she said that? Was it a hot day or cold? What sounds were in the background? What did his cologne smell like?) Describe a setting, people, action, tones of vice, thoughts. Include narration to give background. This process is a means of both adding and expanding, and a means of going deeper – slowing down time, as it were – and re-seeing or re-imagining. (Writing with detail)
- Try writing 3-5 different opening lines for your piece. Show it to a friend and ask them to choose which of the beginnings would most entice them to continue reading your essay. (Hooking your reader)
- Try a Rapid Read. Go through your piece as fast as you can, looking for anything that seems out of place or uninteresting. Mark these passages for possible cutting. Then, go back and reread your piece without those passages and decide if they need to be cut entirely, moved to another spot, or rewritten more interesting or clearly. (Unity and cohesion)
- Try revising your piece backwards to look closely at your word choice. Start at the end (read the last sentence first) and look for bland words that can be replaced, repetition, or awkwardness in your writing. Mark these places for revisions. (Word choice)
My January 24, 2013 column in the Windsor Beacon. Click on the link below:
“One of the best things about teaching part time at a college is the long winter and summer breaks. One of the hardest things? Going back to work after a month of staying home with the family. The first week back is as shocking as jumping into an ice bath.
I start preparing myself by preparing the kids. “Next week, I go back to work,” I warn. “We won’t have time for this in the mornings.” By “this,” I’m referring to the never-ending process of getting dressed and ready for school with packed lunches and book bags. You know, the typical two-hour process that begins with kids saying, “I don’t feeeeeeel good” right out of bed and “I’m tiiiiiiiiired,” as they drag their feet walking out the door . . .”
Read this super interesting and disturbing article by David Streitfeld, “Swarming a Book Online.” All I can say is, Wow. I had never thought Amazon reviews you be used in this way . . .
Click on the link: Swarming a Book Online
Here’s a blurb:
“Reviews on Amazon are becoming attack weapons, intended to sink new books as soon as they are published.
In the biggest, most overt and most successful of these campaigns, a group of Michael Jackson fans used Facebook and Twitter to solicit negative reviews of a new biography of the singer. They bombarded Amazon with dozens of one-star takedowns, succeeded in getting several favorable notices erased and even took credit for Amazon’s briefly removing the book from sale.
“Books used to die by being ignored, but now they can be killed — and perhaps unjustly killed,” said Trevor Pinch, a Cornell sociologist who has studied Amazon reviews. “In theory, a very good book could be killed by a group of people for malicious reasons.”