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DIY: Why You Need a Personal Writing Retreat

DIY: Why You Need a Personal Writing Retreat

IN JANUARY OF 2016, I made a commitment to myself—as part of my writing life and to meet my writing goals, I would go on a weekend-long writing retreat at least twice each year. As I searched for a retreat that would suit my needs, I began to realize that most writing retreats aren’t really for the simple purpose of writing. Yes, they take you away from your normal, distracting environment and whisk you to a lovely cabin surrounded by woods or overlooking the pounding ocean or some other beautiful, exotic location, where the fresh breeze clears your head and (presumably)[...]
Read Like a Writer, Part 6: Structure - This Boy's Life

Read Like a Writer, Part 6: Structure - This Boy's Life

THIS IS THE THIRD of a 3-part analysis of This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff. In this part, we take a look at the narrative structure to better understand how the choice of structure helps or hinders the narrative. Whenever I set out to examine the structure of a piece of writing, whether a book-length work or an essay, I approach it by looking at several aspects: Time — How does the author handle time? Does the narration move forward chronologically or does it jump around associatively, as in My Brother by Jamaica Kincaid. Does it weave two or more narratives timeframes[...]
What Does Freedom Mean to You?

What Does Freedom Mean to You?

FREEDOM! In the U.S., we say we are “the land of the free.” The lyrics of our songs, extoll the virtues and necessity of freedom: Let freedom ring. Sing your freedom, because there’s nothing in the world like freedom, freedom of speech / freedom to say / freedom to think / this is my lucky day. We assume the rights of freedom and debate its boundaries in politics, yet how often do we take time to reflect on what freedom means to us personally? Freedom is not a concept carved from stone; it is malleable and personal, always shifting shape depending on where you[...]
Why You Should Conduct Interviews for Your Memoir

Why You Should Conduct Interviews for Your Memoir

WRITING MEMOIR CAN BE A LONELY ENDEAVOR. Day after day, for months — maybe years — you dig through your memories for details of events that fit into the theme of your story. You search through photo albums, personal journal entries (if you’re lucky to have them), google newspaper archives, and bring up satellite images of the home you grew up in. But, mostly, your version of events is limited to the quirks of your own memory. Interviewing other people who were involved, or experts in a related field, can add incredible depth to your memoir. Interviews don’t have to be formal,[...]
Do You Call Yourself a Writer?

Do You Call Yourself a Writer?

WHEN PEOPLE ASK YOU WHAT YOU DO, do you reply that you are a writer? Chances are, if you have not yet published a book, you don’t — even though you may have had articles and essays published in online magazines or anthologies. (You don’t count those small victories because you didn’t receive any money.) Chances are, you hesitate to call yourself a writer even though you spend hours every week scribbling down and revising your ideas, submitting your work, and have been working on your memoir or novel for the last five years. You hesitate because you know the first[...]