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Butt in chair stick-to-it-iveness

This week I’m reposting one of my favorite posts—because I think we all need to be reminded now and then of the importance of keeping our butts in the chair.

I’m writing again for the first time in weeks and finding it difficult to sit still in my chair. Today I thought about what works […]

Do Not Disturb

I’m on a private writing retreat this week—private meaning just me, my laptop, a lot of Coke Zero, and my manuscript. Oh, and Siri. I use Siri to send text messages while driving more than anything else. I rarely ask her where I can find a yoga studio or a place to eat because […]

The Editing Hour: The Semicolon revisited

A quick note about semicolons. I’ve blogged about them before: how to use them to connect two independent clauses and alternatives you can use instead: a period and a capital or a comma and a coordinating conjunction, or FANBOYS. But what I didn’t say was use them sparingly. It’s tempting when you learn a new […]

Five Ways to Murder Your Loved Ones

If you’ve been writing for a while, you’ve probably heard the expression, “Kill your darlings.” (The real expression is “Murder your darlings” and comes from Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch’s “On The Art of Writing”: “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscripts […]

What is your writing process?

My last post got me thinking about different ways to begin a project. When I’m advising new writers on how to begin a memoir, I tell them to think of an event and just sit down and write it as a scene (or in essay form if they aren’t ready yet to write scenes). Then […]

Are you a slow writer or a fast writer?

I’m continually amazed by stories like Tawna Fenske’s who “In the last eight years [has] written nine full manuscripts and six partials.” Whoa! In the last eight years I have written exactly ONE memoir and revised the hell out of it and still haven’t finished it. Sure, I earned an MFA, got married, and had […]

Link Love


The Wall Street Journal has a great article about vanity press going digital.

Meg Waite Clayton has a great series of posts on how writers get started. Start with Part I and read all six!

After the New Yorker released its 20 Under 40 list (I’m honored to know three of them—Daniel Alarcón, Yiyun […]

Drastic Measures

Despite all my talk about stick-to-it-iveness, I have not done much writing in the past couple of months. I have lots of excuses—two small children, training for a half marathon, etc. But like Martha Borst says, you can have excuses, or you can have results. And I don’t want this revision to drag on all […]

Over the wall

Last week, I was feeling really discouraged about revising my book. I’ve been working on this same book for SO long now (more than five years), and I’m dying to put it behind me on and start something new. I don’t feel excited about it. In fact, I mysteriously find very important things that I […]


Someone, a few months back, wrote an amazing blog post about patience and I can’t remember who it was or where I read it. I can hardly repeat that here, but I do have a few things to say about patience.

You need a lot of patience to be a writer. Patience with yourself when […]