challenges

The Whooshing Noise of Deadlines (NaNoWriMo 2017)

NaNoWriMo — short for “National Novel Writing Month” — is a challenge sponsored by a non-profit organization (also called, unsurprisingly, National Novel Writing Month) that encourages people from all walks of life to express their creativity through the written word: by writing an entire novel, 50K words, in the 30 days of November. During my early attempts, I successfully completed NaNoWriMo two years in a row from 2009-2010. After a seven-year hiatus, I decided to tackle this challenge again with a different approach and, hopefully, better writing thanks to additional years of writing experience. How did I fare, and have I learned anything new with this insane challenge? (more…)

Chain The Muse To Your Desk

As a writer, there will be days when the words spill from my mind and gush all over my keyboard. Those are good days. It’s sunny outside, the birds are chirping a merry tune, and my neighbors’ toddler is either asleep or visiting the grandparents. Occasionally, however, I’ll have really awful stretches where the words are stymied and nothing pushes the blinking cursor forward. I’m not talking about regular writer’s block, which I’ve written about before. No, this is far worse. This isn’t just struggling to find the right direction for a story or wrestling with a difficult scene. It’s apocalyptic: thunder and lightning accompanied by merciless winds, dead birds plummeting from their perches, and the toddler next door wailing like an air raid siren (which, admittedly, often happens on good days, too). This is what I like to refer to as “the inspiration abyss.” No matter how hard I try, I can’t get any of my ideas off the ground. Even if I manage to write a thousand words, they ultimately lead to a dead end, forcing me to start over. While writer’s block can last for days, the inspiration abyss can last for weeks. Currently, I’m dealing with a stretch that has now lasted just over a month. It’s the most frustrating experience as writer. I don’t have any quick-fix solutions, but I’ve developed a few strategies to aid me in my attempts to claw my way out of these bleak situations: (more…)

There Is Only One Of You

As a writer, it’s difficult to stay motivated. The art of writing can be taxing, frustrating, and at times, almost impossible. There are days when everything except writing sounds like fun: climbing Mt. Everest, running an ultra-marathon, stepping into the ring with Brock Lesnar, finding One-Eyed Willy’s treasure map… okay, so that last one is pretty awesome, gotta admit. Anyway, how does a small-time writer (such as myself) stay on top of his/her writing goals? Here are a few things I’ve discovered that keep me going despite all the distractions of daily life: (more…)

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

“I graduated.” This two-word statement carries the weight of two years’ worth of sleepless nights, deadlines, and enough frustration to fill the Mariana Trench (see what I did there). And yet, I have no regrets. My time at Stonecoast has pushed me to achieve writing heights I didn’t think possible. Now that I’ve had ample time to reflect upon my MFA journey, I’m amazed at how much I’ve evolved. The bright-eyed, bushy-tailed firstie who entered Stonecoast isn’t the same writer who graduated last month. So what’s different? What’s changed? (more…)