Category: The Writing Life

Weekly Writing: Membership

By Midge Raymond,

Write about a something in which you’re a member … a club, organization, writing group, etc., including how you came to be a member, how long you’ve been one, and how you like it (or don’t). Then write a scene that depicts one of your recent gatherings.


Tips for a great writing session

By Midge Raymond,

A few weeks ago, my dear friend Judy Reeves was telling me about one of her amazing workshops, in which they worked in 90-minute intervals, then took a break, and then got back to work, and so on. It sounded so wonderfully efficient and productive — and in fact it was.

Then I came across this New York Times piece on the benefits of taking breaks — and while the article’s main focus is on the benefits of naps and vacations (of which I am also a big fan, though I never seem to take them), it also reveals the benefits of working in 90-minute intervals, which studies have shown lead to maximum productivity. Florida State University’s K. Anders Ericsson has studied elite performers (including musicians, athletes, actors, and chess players) and has learned that they do best when practicing in 90-minute sessions, with breaks in between.

I have noticed, very unscientifically, that when I have more than two hours of writing time, I start to flag as I approach the second hour (I never take breaks because this is, after all, precious writing time). In fact, my waning energy always made me worry that, since that sort of uninterrupted time is such a luxury, I’d never get anything done if I couldn’t use my time well when I have it. But this article offers evidence that we need to apportion our time to our advantage — and include the necessary breaks we often don’t allow ourselves.

So, here’s a call to action for all you writers out there … or rather, here’s several:

  • Schedule your next writing session at exactly 90 minutes (if you can).
  • If you’ve got more than 90 minutes of time, take a break … or several.
  • When you’re feeling uninspired, take a nap — even if it uses up your writing time.
  • Take a notebook with you on your next vacation, and write for pleasure (not out of guilt or obligation — just jot down anything you’d like, for the fun of it).

I’m looking forward to trying this (especially the napping part). Happy writing!

Weekly Writing: Being late

By Midge Raymond,

Write about being late.

First, writing about being late for work or an important meeting. Then write about showing up late for an important event, like a wedding or funeral. Finally, write about being late to meet someone, whether for a first date or to pick up your child from school.


Weekly Writing: Shelves

By Midge Raymond,

Write about a shelf in your closet, or pantry, or library. Describe what is on it in great detail. What do these particular items say about you? How would this shelf have been different five years ago, or ten? How might it look ten years from now, or twenty?

5 Ways to Write When You’re Not Really Writing

By Midge Raymond,

I’m delighted to be a guest on Clifford Garstang’s blog today, posting about writing when you’re not actually writing.

As busy writers, we can’t always sit down in the chair for hours of writing time — and this post offers 5 ways to keep your projects moving forward during your everyday life, even when you don’t have a writing session in your schedule. Enjoy!

And while you’re visiting Cliff, check out the rest of his blog, Perpetual Folly, which includes a wealth of info for readers and writers alike, including his famous Pushcart Prize rankings. And don’t forget to check out his books as well!

Stuff for writers in the new year

By Midge Raymond,

Happy new year to all!

So, here we are. It’s 2013, and most of us writers have grand writing plans and goals — right? I know I do…and I also know that I don’t want any of them to be forgotten by February. So I have a few things that I hope will inspire you and get your new writing year off to a good start.

First, if you’re in San Diego, come to one of my jump-start-your-new-year-of-writing workshops! I’ll be in the lively studio of author Judy Reeves on Saturday, January 12, from 1 to 3 p.m., for Everyday Writing, where you’ll learn how to fit various aspects of your writing into every day (from how to hone your powers of observation to how to keep your projects moving forward even when you’re short on time). We’ll work on overcoming your biggest obstacles and do writing prompts that will teach you how to become an everyday writer, even if you’re not able to sit down to write every day. Click here to register. (You’ll also be able to pick up copies of Everyday Writing and Judy’s new Daily Appointment Calendar for Writers.) And check out all of Judy’s upcoming workshops and events here.

And if this is your year for sending out new work, join me on on Monday, January 28, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., for a workshop on writing contests at San Diego Writers Ink. This workshop is for all writers who have wondered what goes on behind the scenes of writing contests, from literary magazines to small presses. We’ll talk about how to tell whether a contest is reputable, when it’s worthwhile to enter a contest, and how to make the most of the opportunities contests offer. We’ll go over submission guidelines as well as tips and resources for finding the best contests. Click here to register — and check out the rest of San Diego Writers’ great lineup of winter workshops.

When it comes to writing, I’m usually in need of a daily dose of inspiration, whether it’s about the craft of writing or the business of writing. Here are a few resources that I enjoy…

For both the business of writing as well as inspiration, check out Erika Dreifus’s blog, Practicing Writing, which offers wonderful opportunities and resources, as well as notes on her own progress as a writer.

The Lit Show features fabulous interviews with authors on their work and craft — as does the Writers at Warwick archive.

If you get inspired by (and addicted to) hearing great authors talk and great work read aloud, check out The Guardian’s short story podcasts, as well as The New Yorker’s fiction podcasts.

And, of course, the Paris Review Interviews, which go back to the 1950s, are fantastic.

Now that you’re inspired, back to your own work. If you haven’t already, follow Priscilla Long’s invaluable example and create a List of Works. If you already have one, now’s the time to update it. This may be the most important thing you do to get you on your way to a fruitful new year of writing.

Happy 2013!


Weekly Writing: Bargains

By Midge Raymond,

Write about a bargain. This can be anything from buying a sweater on sale to the price of your first home to the deal you got on beets at the farmer’s market — or something different altogether, such as a time you had to make a compromise.