Category: Uncategorized

Spontaneous Storytelling

Recently, I was asked to entertain a four-year-old while her mother – my friend – ran some errands. The little girl wanted to hear a story and refused to nap until I told her one. Because I write short stories, I figured that coming up with a story would be easy. However, the girl had…
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April 11, 2011 0

Reading Is the Introduction

Over the course of the semester, I facilitate small group writing workshops that allow my students to discuss their writing with two to three of their classmates. I have done everything I can possibly think of to create a positive workshop environment: I lead them in a sample workshop to demonstrate how they can talk…
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March 30, 2011 0

On Being Honest with Yourself

In my perfect world, I would be able to hire an on-call editor to critique every draft of everything I write. However, I can’t afford an editor, and I haven’t yet found someone I trust enough as a reader. A handful of my friends and my mom read my work, but they aren’t trained to…
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March 21, 2011 0

Oh No, I Said Too Much

One of the questions that my students most frequently ask me is, “How much detail is enough, and how much detail is too much?”. Recently, I asked them to write original flash fiction, which is a very short story, always under 500 words but sometimes as short as one page long. If you want to…
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February 21, 2011 0

5 Things I Learned at AWP 2011

This year marked the third year in a row that I attended the annual conference and bookfair of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. On Friday and Saturday, I listened to panel discussions about writing and teaching, enjoyed readings by well-known authors (Jennifer Egan, Junot Diaz, Gary Shteyngart, Joyce Carol Oates, Joshua Ferris), and…
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February 9, 2011 0

But What Do You Really Mean?

The one piece of advice that I most frequently give to my students is “be specific”. I say and write it so often that they’re probably tired of hearing it. However, I do believe that you must be as specific as possible if you ever hope to communicate anything effectively. When we speak or write…
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January 31, 2011 0

Finish Before You Become Someone Else

I spend a lot of time revising. Over the years, I’ve become my own best editor, out of necessity. When you write as much as I do, you have to rely on yourself or have money to pay someone to read your work – asking my friends to constantly read my work becomes annoying for…
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January 24, 2011 0

Instant Writing Makeover

Sometimes, a haircut, change of clothes, or even some make-up can drastically improve a person’s appearance. In the same way, a few quick fixes can improve your writing! If you don’t have a lot of time to revise a piece of writing (maybe you’re finishing an essay at the last minute or writing a business…
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January 20, 2011 0

The Importance of Staring at a Wall

Over the course of the past month, I’ve had a bunch of random days off between semesters. My plan was to spend a lot of time writing, but I knew that I’d ultimately be distracted. So I decided to pay attention to my creative energy instead. Though I had a great time last semester, I…
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January 17, 2011 0

Will You Read Me a Story?

When I was a child, my mom used to take me to Story Hour at our local library. At Story Hour, one of the librarians would read one book out loud, slowly and deliberately. She would complete one page then open the book toward us so that we could see the illustrations. She had a…
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January 12, 2011 0