Monday, December 5, 2016

Happy (Literary) Holidays!

The Zoo Lights Mark the Holidays Annually in D.C.

As you purchase gifts this season, consider a giving a literary magazine subscription or donating money to an organization that supports writers in someone's name. Don't forget to buy books for your loved ones at your favorite independent bookstore. Support journalism with a subscription, print or electronic, to a newspaper.

If someone you know is looking to work with a writing coach, contact me (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com) to arrange a Writing Coach Gift Certificate (which can be used in person or via video conference.)

And don't forget to give yourself a break this holiday season. If you're like me, you have a dangerously tall pile of books on your nightstand. Take some time to read, take notes in the margin and think outside of the usual rush of people and sweets. Find that journal that burrowed itself under a pile of time-sensitive papers and start drafting again. 2017 will thank you.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Resources for Adult, Professional Writers

As a writing coach, I sometimes work with adults who want to write more easily and clearly at work.

To encourage writing through prompts, I always recommend one of my favorite books, Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg

Thanks to Amy Bucklin of Clear Sky Writing for these additional resources that they - and you! - might find helpful:

Hemingway Editor: An editing program that helps you to write better through color coding errors, adverbs, etc.

Find quick and clear writing tips from Entrepreneur and Inc. Here are some more tips from Publication Coach.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter. 

This morning we, two white parents, got ourselves and our son, a white three year old, ready for school.

We didn't worry about his getting shot today.

We fed him, dressed him, got him into the car, drove through our neighborhood, got him out of the car and walked him into his classroom without worrying about him getting shot. We didn't look over our shoulders or worry about what he was wearing. My husband walked to his office without worrying about getting shot, too.

We will pick up our toddler this afternoon, maybe go for a walk, feed him dinner and then go bed without fearing bullets and other people's fear or anger.

We will repeat this routine every weekday throughout the academic school year. We will not fear his getting murdered today or when he's older because of his skin color.

He will go to elementary, middle and high school without this fear. He will not carry the fear with him to college. He will not look for his first full-time job while being afraid. We won't stay up late at night afraid.

Parents of black children should not have to live daily with the fear their boys and men could be shot and killed. Children should not have to live with the fear of getting killed or their loved ones getting killed.

Black Lives Matter. Yesterday, today and tomorrow. Black Lives Matter.

Do your part as parents: 

We, including white people, have to talk about race with our partners, family, friends and children. Studies show that talking early and openly with your children about race makes a positive difference.

Find books with diverse characters on Black Children's Books and VideosThe Brown Bookshelf and  through We Need Diverse Books' resources.

As a white woman, I asked myself, "What kind of white person do you want to be?"

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fall Workshops at Politics and Prose Bookstore Open for Registration

I hope you’ve been enjoying the summer and staying as cool as possible.

I’m excited to announce that my fall 2016 writing workshops at Politics and Prose bookstore, Washington, D.C., are open for registration. You’ll find titles and links to the full descriptions below. Don’t hesitate to email me with any questions. Do register with the bookstore as soon as you can, as classes tend to fill up quickly.

If you’ve taken my memoir writing workshop before, you’ll notice that I’ve restructured the class. Following student recommendations, it will be five weeks long and we will be workshopping student writing as a large group (rather than a four week class in which we split into small groups for workshopping.)

Are you looking for customized help on a particular project? I have a few spots open for new clients this fall. I can read your work, offer feedback, give reading & writing suggestions and meet with you at a convenient time. Email me to schedule our first session together (

Here’s to a generative and productive fall!

Politics and Prose bookstore class details:

Session 1: Five Tuesdays: September 6, 13, 20, 27, October 4, 10 a.m. to noon
Session 2: Five Tuesdays: October 11, 18, November 1, 8, 15, 10 a.m. to noon

Co-taught classes:
PUBLISHING YOUR MEMOIR: SUBMITTING TO JOURNALS, PRESSES AND AGENTS (1690) with literary agent and writer Cynthia Kane
Tuesday, October 4, 2 – 4 p.m.

MEMOIR WRITING: LEGAL, ETHICAL, AND MORAL CONCERNS (1689) with memoirist and law professor Martha Ertman
Tuesday, November 1, 1 to 3 p.m.

Looking for something else? I strongly recommend the classes at Politics and Prose offered by colleagues and friends Cynthia Kane, Linda Kulman and Rose Solari. You can find the full listing here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hello, Summer!

Summer is here and you might have less time (kids home?), more time (less work?) or the same (day job that doesn't change based on the season?)

I'm here to encourage you to keep writing. Every season, I like a healthy writing reassessment: What progress have you made? What are your new or continued goals? How and when will you meet them?

Carve out some writing time this summer. That is, time when the ringer is off and your door is closed. Or maybe you are sitting at the library with headphones on. Whatever it is, put writing on your to-do list and treat it like an appointment. Show up. Open a word document or your notebook. And write. Read it over and revise. Read something published by someone who moves you.

For more on writing self-evaluations, here is another post and yet another one that might help you to ask the right questions to move forward. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Give the Gift of a Literary Magazine Subscription

Today is my birthday and instead of feeling all the gloom and doom that a "zero" birthday could leave me with, I offer a birthday gift recommendation for anyone any season: A literary magazine subscription. Most literary magazines are run by small groups of hardworking, big-hearted volunteers. They can use all the financial support you can muster. If you are reading them and submitting your work to them, you should support them, too.

Why not give someone a literary magazine subscription today? You might even make it a habit to regularly subscribe to one to three magazines a year for yourself. As a writer, you'll get to know what the editors of one magazine are looking for and become better acquainted with contemporary writers.

Not sure what magazine you or your friend might love the most? You might try looking through lists and databases of literary magazines from:
New Pages
Poets & Writers
The Review Review

What is your favorite literary magazine?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Focus Your Editing With Lists & Re-Readings

We often re-read our pieces over and over during the revising and editing process. It is impossible to catch every possible error, awkward moment or inconsistency during a single reading. We might auto-correct in our minds or even while reading the work aloud. 

Here's my editing tip: Read your work with only one issue in mind at a time. And then read it again with another issue in mind. (And yes, this will take a while.)

Start by making a list with two columns. In one column, write a list of the top 5-10 things you usually do well. Then, in the second column, write a list of the top 5-10 things that often trip up your writing. 

Here is an incomplete list of some things you might include in one of the columns: 
Verb tense consistency
Punctuation (particularly commas)
Verb strength (Do you rely on conjugated forms of "to be" often or do you choose more muscular verbs? Do your verbs need adverbs in order to offer a clear action?)
Noun strength (Do you need many adjectives to clarify your objects?)
Plot (Use your outline to check that you have a clear narrative arc)
Character development and consistency

Read through your writing with one of these issues in mind at a time. Start with the list of the things you usually do well. Do you continue to do them well? Then move onto the harder issues: the list of things that don't come as easily.

Don't forget to give yourself some time between readings. Waiting at least a day between a major revision and another revision will help you to have the necessary distance from the piece to edit and revise it. 

What editing and revising tips do you rely on? Click through for more posts on editing and revising