Category Archives: writing

Lifewriting – A Few Basics

You may not be fully aware of it, but your life is a story. It is a story that you tell to others in pieces. Like when you get together with a friend to catch up!. It is also a story that others will tell about you, after you are gone.

If your life is a story, how well do you tell it? Who is the hero? What is the hero’s challenge? These are important questions that most of us don’t think about. And yet, our ability to answer these questions and others will dictate how memorable we are as people.  They sum up as well what value we see in what we do with others and for ourselves.

BTW, I do not propose that your life story has to fit  a Hollywood style formula. To the contrary. You are writing it. you can write whatever you want. Nor am I proposing that your life is all about a single thing. It is instead about multiple things that come together.

Here are several “tips” that you might consider if you want to think further about creating and telling your life story

  • stories emerge from character more than plot. In other words, plot follows character, not the other way around.
  • stories are broken into pieces. In books, these are chapters. In life, there are similar divisions. Each part connects to the last and to the next. You cannot suddenly jump out of the flow. The driver of that flow is often a mystery., but it is powerful.
  • stories take place in settings. Your attitude towards those settings re critical.

Here is a link for further discussion of these ideas.

Good luck!

BTW. you might want to consider this thought via Tom Peters

“The key question isn’t ‘What fosters creativity?’ But it is why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything.”
—Abe Maslow

And finally, consider this

“If you want to build a ship, don’t gather people together to collect wood, and don’t assign them tasks and work, but instead teach them to long for the sea.”
—Antoine de Saint-Exupery (The Little Prince)

That longing for greatness drives progress and on a more human level, creates great  life stories.

Margaret Atwood Re-writes Shakespeare

From The Guardian

I’d thought about The Tempest before, and written about it as well. In my book about writers and writing – called, oddly enough, On Writers and Writing – there’s a chapter on the artist as magician and/or impostor called “Prospero, the Wizard of Oz, Mephisto & Co”. All of these figures are illusionists, as artists are. And illusionists always have a dubious side to them. The Wizard of Oz is only pretending to be a real magician: really he’s a fraud. But the magic in The Tempest is real.

Is You a Good Writer?

From Inc

When we think of essential business skills, delegation, time management, and networking are probably at the top of everyone’s list. However, a recent survey conducted by Harvard Business Review reveals that good writing is actually one of the most important, yet most overlooked, skills in the game, and not for the reasons you’d expect.

Good writing? Not great writing. Not the stuff that we dream of. Just stuff that gets other stuff done. Stuff that gets the stud muffins moving instead of kibitzing at the coffee machine.

Can you do that?

When Writers go Back to the Beginning

Rosellen Brown writes (in Writers on Writing)

Sometimes it’s a good thing — like reflecting on the kind of adult you thought you’d become when you were a child, when thinking wasn’t yet complicated yet by knowledge — for a writer to remember what writing felt like when you were back at the beginning.

I love the phrase “-… when thinking wasn’t yet complicated by knowledge”. But what does it mean?

Nancy Kress on Being a Writer

The  writing life has a certain mystique. And yet, writers will tell you that it is not such an easy path. Nancy Kress says this

“A writer has to have certain qualities. They have to be able to spend a lot of time alone. In fact, they have to prefer it. They have to have an imagination, obviously. They have to be open to improving their craft, and not be closed-minded, saying, ‘Well, this is perfect and I’m not going to change it in any way.’ … And they also have to be resilient. This is not a career for the faint-hearted. There will be rejections, there will be misunderstood stories, there will be bad reviews. There will be, at times, slumping sales. … You have to be a resilient person.”

Do Women Have Friends Too?

Alex Clark offers us a pretty interesting article about a profound cultural shift. Here is a glimpse

We increasingly seek more complex and subtle imaginative explorations of identity than societal expectations of gender – and a “realist” elaboration of personality – have often allowed; if we have long accepted that identity is fluid and shifting, it has perhaps taken more time to appreciate that it deserves a similarly sophisticated expression in art. Consequently, that sense of the forced compartmentalisation of a woman’s life – given such powerful structural form in Doris Lessing’s 1962 novel The Golden Notebook, in which Anna Wulf chronicles her life in four separate notebooks and tries to merge them in an eponymous fifth – is under extreme pressure.

I agree. Our traditional framework for understanding our identities is not as robust as it once was. Even the old “protestant ethic” is being questioned in an era when automation may make work less important as a path to a meaningful life.

And perhaps especially so for women. Consider how the article closes.

Friendship, in literature as in life, is a dizzyingly various prospect; and it tells us things about ourselves that we may not want to know. Female friendship, with its additional charge of possible subversion – a world free from male control – is densely suggestive, whether it appears to be (the girls and women in Muriel Spark’s The Abbess of Crewe or The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) or whether it masquerades as something more straightforward. It encompasses love, fear, dislike, insecurity, dependency, affection, sexuality, jealousy, altruism, cruelty, sameness and difference; it raises knotty questions of the individual’s ability to disrupt gender norms as well as her often unconscious adherence to them. No wonder writers of fiction are inspired by its boundless potentiality.

If you have any interest in narrative as an art form, you should check out this article.

Hendrick’s Gin Wants You to Write Like Hemingway!

I didn’t think twice when I saw this on the Mashable website

These 6 writing tips could help you land a movie deal

So I clicked to check out the tips. I was surprised to find out that the article was written by a dude by the name of “Hendrick’s Gin”. A pseudonym? Nope. We are talking about the company.

Hendrick’s says this about itself

Hendrick’s Gin is no stranger to doing things the odd way, so it’s calling on the world’s best writers to follow in Hemingway’s “peculiar” footsteps.

To drink more gin? Well, perhaps. But also to enter a short story contest.

The contest is calling for your best, heart-breaking, heart-warming, bone-chilling, blood-boiling, emotional roller-coaster ride of a short story — all told in three sentences or less.

To make this easier, Hendrick’s offers the above advertised tips from “acclaimed actor and writer” David Schneider. BTW, here is Dave trying to get the bartender’s attention for a Hendrick’s martini (just kidding there)

So get ready, get set, go! Dave is waiting to read your best! Something like this

Found pen. Out of ink. Time for a drink.