Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Writing Plan: Using your best energy

Working on a long-term project, like a full-length memoir, takes dedication and hard work. It also takes some practical organization of your time and energy. You'll need to do some research, brainstorming and first draft writing, editing and revising and then submitting to agents or publishers. While the final revisions and submissions come last, the other steps can happen intermittently.

There are times when I don't feel like writing; I simply don't feel creative and don't have anything to say. This is a time to potentially focus on my editing, revising and research skills rather than simply calling it, "writer's block." Sure, regular writing and flexing of this creative muscle can help to shorten these periods, but this is a good time to do some research and review what I've already written.

There are other times when I feel very creative. Why not take advantage of this and make the time to produce new work? It would be a waste to take out the so-called red pen to edit, do a poor job of it and then lose the potential creative output.

Honor the period you're in and use the energy to keep your project going forward. Sure, sometimes there are deadlines or you're in a point in your work that you don't have that flexibility, but overall, do your best to take advantage of the state your in. Remember that editing, revising and researching are important parts of your project, so even if you aren't writing, you're still moving forward.

Keep up the good writing work, friends! How do you best take advantage of your natural energies?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Writing Prompt: The end as a new beginning

The end can suggest a new beginning.

What happens after the last page of your memoir? Remember that conclusions should point towards the future. How can you end your manuscript while suggesting a second? It could be something that actually happened or something that you think might happen.

What final chapters have you read that did this well?

Write for at least ten minutes nonstop. Set a timer, if you like. If you get stuck while you're writing, simply repeat something like, "The end is a new beginning." Eventually you'll get bored and return to the manuscript. Of course, if the prompt brings you somewhere else, that's fine, too. A prompt is meant to get you started, not to tell you where to end up.

When the ten minutes are over, re-read what you've written and underline the most interesting ideas, images or lines. These particular words and lines, as well as the brainstorming, might offer you the beginning of a new piece or help you to better understand the character you’re developing for a larger piece.

If you like, share your writing or experiences below in the Comments section.

Click for more original writing prompts.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Georgetown Neighborhood Library Workshop: Personal Statements

I hope to see you at the Georgetown Neighborhood Library on Thursday, Oct. 3rd from 7 - 9 p.m. for a workshop on how to best brainstorm, compose and edit your personal statement for college applications. 

Make your application stand out by writing a strong personal statement. I'll discuss what to include, how to organize your ideas and how this essay fits into the rest of your application materials. Come with questions and paper and pen or a charged laptop. We’ll spend some time in the second half of the session brainstorming ideas and starting to write. Don't hesitate to email me with questions (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com or contact me to set up your first writing coach appointment for individual help. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Memoir Writing: So what?

The beginning... 

Some writers have the instinct to write memoir, but aren’t sure why. Maybe they want to share their stories with younger – or future – family members. Maybe they are afraid of forgetting.

But then they stop and ask themselves, “Who cares? Who would care to read what I have to say?”

This is what I call the “so what” of writing. So you experienced X? So what? So you saw Y? So what?

The answer to this (rude) question is the key to your piece and its importance to both people you know and a larger readership. Inherent in this broad question are more questions: What did you learn? How did you change? How could someone else benefit from your experience?

You might not know or sense the answers to these questions until you start writing because writing is a part of the learning process. Keep the question in the back of your mind as you write and organize your memories into scenes and then chapters.

In the end, you’ll have a better understand your personal history. You might be able to expose an era or public event through a private experience. You might uncover something about the human experience, small or large.

Do you have a draft of your memoir written? There are two seats available in my upcoming Master Class: Memoir Manuscript Workshop at Politics and Prose bookstore this fall. Classes start Sept. 10th; apply today!