Category Archives: Writing Tips

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

Posted in essays, Memoirists, Modern Love, More Stuff for Writers, Publishing, Writing Tips | Leave a comment

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

Learn how to write a memoir book proposal. Continue reading

Posted in Memoirists, More Stuff for Writers, Publishing, Webinars, Writing Tips | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Emerging Writers' Series, lists, More Stuff for Writers, Writing Tips | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

Posted in Memoirists, More Stuff for Writers, Writing Tips | 22 Comments

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

Posted in More Stuff for Writers, What I'm Reading Now, Writing Tips | Tagged , | 10 Comments

How to Keep on Writing that Freaking Book!

Question: When is 9 months “a year”? Answer: When the 9 months is spent in a manuscript class. I teach a memoir manuscript class here in Seattle at Hugo House. The class runs 9 months from September to June, and … Continue reading

Posted in Memoirists, More Stuff for Writers, Writing Tips | 19 Comments

“I want to double down on me.”

I’ve been pretty obsessed with Jill Soloway’s series Transparent this winter break, which led me to reading Ariel Levy’s fabulous profile of Soloway in The New Yorker titled “Dolls and Feelings.” There are a dozen reason why any emerging writer should read this profile, but the juncture of Soloway’s story that keeps replaying in my head is the one at which her career was at its lowest point and she made the decision to “double down” on herself. Continue reading

Posted in Cheryl Strayed, More Stuff for Writers, Writing Tips | Tagged , , , , , | 27 Comments

How to Write a Modern Love (That Stands a Chance)

Update November 22, 2022: Hello Readers! In 2015 I hosted the How to Write a Modern Love Teleseminar with guest speakers New York Times Modern Love Editor Dan Jones and six Modern Love writers (You can see the original post … Continue reading

Posted in Modern Love, More Stuff for Writers, teleseminars, Writing Tips | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Getting More Writing From Yourself–Without the Use of Force

I am against forcing myself to do things that I supposedly enjoy doing. I’m against force, rules, and quotas because I reliably get terrible results every time I forget that “being disciplined” doesn’t work for me. When I tell myself … Continue reading

Posted in More Stuff for Writers, Theo Finding Her Voice, Writing Tips | 14 Comments

Just Start Something. Anything.

The 26-Minute Memoir Project started as a dream. I woke up from the dream and wrote for 26 minutes, trying to capture the essence of my life. That was five years ago–before I started the blog Writing Is My Drink … Continue reading

Posted in 26-Minute Memoirs, Writers Block, Writing Tips | 9 Comments