Category Archives: More Stuff for Writers

The Essays That Came Before the Book Deals

Writers worry about “giving the story away” before their book is out in the world. But publishing a personal essay about a related story can stir up interest in the memoirist’s larger narrative. And, that following you create as an essayist can pay off when you go to sell your memoir. “That following” is also known as a platform, an author’s existing audience for a particular story. (This is why writing/revising/submitting an essay to a target publication is a key part of my Platform Building 101 course). Writing essays also gives a writer a chance to develop a story and explore its themes before setting out to write (and rewrite) 300 pages. But perhaps the greatest benefit of those essays: Early reader enthusiasm that boosts writer confidence and wards off those thoughts of who’s gonna care anyways? that haunt each of us with a personal story to tell. Continue reading

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What I’m Digging Right Now #5

I love this time of year! My two yearlong classes* have wrapped up, and while I’m still coaching and teaching a few classes, I’m mostly reading, writing, getting my yard under control, and hanging out with friends and family. So, … Continue reading

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How to Write a Memoir Book Proposal (That Stands a Chance)

Learn how to write a memoir book proposal. Continue reading

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Last-day-of-School Advice for Writers

My two yearlong classes met for their final class meetings this week. We still have our class readings ahead (Many thanks to University Bookstore and Elliott Bay Book Company), but the classroom work is officially behind us. A number of … Continue reading

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What I’m Digging Right Now #4

 Alison Bechdel Right now I’m preparing to teach a new course called “Writing the Self” at Seattle University where I’ll be a visiting writer next winter. We’ll be examining the autobiographical impulse in multiple literary genres, including graphic novels. I … Continue reading

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What I’m Digging Right Now

Daveed Diggs. I don’t have a ton of regrets, but I do rue the fact that I missed the chance to see Hamilton  with its original cast. Last summer my daughters and I–along with millions of others–became obsessed with the … Continue reading

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What I’m Digging Right Now

1. Strathmore Watercolor Postcards. It could be a little intimidating to break out the paints after a decade of dormancy and start in on a full-size canvas or even a regular sheet of paper. But these 4×6 postcards provide the … Continue reading

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What I’m Digging Right Now

Moonlight and all the conversations surrounding this film. I’m touched by the autobiographical impulse behind Moonlight; the vulnerability of the writer and the director, Tarell Alvin McCraney and Barry Jenkins, and the complexity of the protagonist, Chiron; and the simple … Continue reading

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4 New Year’s Resolutions for Memoirists

Want to finish  your memoir this year? Here are four resolutions to help you create an enduring memoir that transforms your individual experience into a universal one that speaks to a wide readership. 1. This year I will make myself … Continue reading

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Two Good Reasons to Read Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit

I first learned of Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit from Claire Dederer, author of Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, when she quoted Tharp during a guest lecture for my memoir class. The quote? “You don’t really have … Continue reading

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