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May 17, 2010

Lyric of the Unseen: Navigating Shadows in Nonfiction

by Barrie Jean Borich

chicago-skyline.jpgThe image of Chicago presented on most promotional posters is a photograph of the famous skyline, shot from somewhere out over the deeps of Lake Michigan. In these wide-angle portraits, the Sears Tower and the John Hancock are fraternal twins, each a third of the way in from the edge of the lit-up cluster, seemingly holding up the glassy herd of the Loop.

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March 9, 2010

Writing Rituals: Superstition or Science?

by Rosanne Bane

ritual.jpgHonoré de Balzac always put on a dressing gown that looked like a monk's robe before he wrote. Alexandre Dumas used different colors of paper and different pens for different kinds of writing. Saul Bellow had two typewriters--one for fiction, one for essays and criticism--that could never be interchanged.

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February 22, 2010

On "Inspiration": A Look Into P&W Jan./Feb. 2010

by David LeGault

pwjan2010.jpgWrite about what you don't understand. Write about what you can't forget. Write about your regrets and your outrage." This advice comes from John Dufresne in his article, "Writing Your First Novel," in the Jan/Feb. "Inspiration" issue of Poets and Writers.

And the article does provide a nice amount of cheerleading: he explains that a novel can start anywhere, he outlines the unexpected ways that a few well-known novels found their star (Louisiana Power and Light began as an attempt at understanding place; The Sound and the Fury began as a story of a funeral; Ragtime began in the midst of writer's block--Doctorow started describing the wall in front of his desk and eventually found a novel).

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October 25, 2009

Seven Tips for National Novel Writing Month

In her 1934 classic, Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande prescribes an exercise in discipline: every day for a week, immediately upon waking up, write nonstop for fifteen minutes. After that first week, schedule two more fifteen-minute slots throughout the day; at those exact times, you must stop whatever you're doing and write. She ends her prescription with this warning: "If you fail repeatedly at this exercise, give up writing." Your resistance, she says, is greater than your desire to write; you may as well find something else to do with yourself.

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