Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: creative writing

Writing Blogs That Are about More Than Just The Writing

Back on the 9th of January, I published a post called Fuel for Writers.

It had 11 sites that could supply an endless number of writing prompts…

But, what about once you’re in the heat of the writing or when you’re preparing to publish or needing to promote?

One place to visit would be Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity

Here are just a few categories of their helpful resources:


Calls for Submissions

Paying Markets

Publishers Accepting Unagented Manuscripts

Agents Seeking Clients

There’s lots more to explore over on Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity :-)

And, if you haven’t yet got the heat turned up on the writing part (and, for help with sundry other writerly topics…), from The Writers’ Academy site, these 15 Top Creative Writing Blogs That Are Actually Helpful (Do visit <—That Link for their commentary on these sites):

Copyblogger ***
The Creative Penn
Goins, Writer ***
Terrible Minds
Jane Friedman ***
Daily Writing Tips
Helping Writers Become Authors
The Writers’ Academy
The Write Life ***
Better Novel Project
Writer’s Digest
The Book Designer ***
She’s Novel
Lauren Sapala

The sites with *** after the name are ones that I find particularly valuable

And, a Wonderful Bonus Site that anyone associated with any phase of writing should explore (even if you’re not writing a novel…):

Roz Morris’ Nail Your Novel

“Writing, publishing and self-publishing advice from a bestselling ghostwriter and book doctor”

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What’s the #BigMagic about #ElizabethGilbert?

Back in 2012, I included a video of Elizabeth Gilbert in the post, Must Writers Suffer Melancholy, Anguish, and Depression?

I consider that video a Magic Performance

She captures Something Elusive about writing and infuses it into one’s soul

I’ve watched it more times than I can count; but, until very recently, I took no notice of her books

So, because of her most recent release and a friend giving me an Amazon gift card, I bought three of Ms. Gilbert’s books.

Eat Pray Love was Magic

The video I mentioned up there was done after Eat Pray Love had become a phenomenon—selling over 10 million copies.

I’d imagined it was some light, frilly thing about taking a year off from work and living it up

Turns out it was an extremely well-written, lyric book about taking a critically-needed year to heal and rebalance a life sorely-torn

So my first answer to the question (without the hashtags) What’s the Big Magic about Elizabeth Gilbert? would be:  she could suffer a devastating divorce, bring on more suffering with a rebounding affair, and somehow convince her publisher to pay for a year’s travel to Italy, India, and Indonesia so she could reconstitute her identity

Oh! And then write a book about it all.

I also bought her novel, The Signature of All Things, which I won’t read until I’ve finished a chunk more of my research for my next book

And, I bought her newest book, Big Magic, slotted further down the reading road

You can watch a slew of videos with Elizabeth talking about Big Magic and here’s a bit of a synopsis:

“…this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers powerful insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and to let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love (and how to face down what we most fear).”

If my Muse were not the lovely martinet she is, I would be reading Big Magic right now—my next book needs a certain amount of preparatory care and feeding—and the Muse is confident I’ll begin reading Big Magic at just the right Magic Moment

I’m not allowed, yet, to know too much about that book but YouTube has a series of podcasts about Big Magic in Ms. Gilbert own voice (look in the right side-bar on YouTube for more of the series…)

And, speaking of her voice—it has Big Magic

It’s a combination of her tone and timbre (in a lower, provocative range) along with the pace of delivery (modulated by passion and concern) and her amazing ability to talk off-the-cuff yet make perfect and lyrically-delivered sense

Take A Listen………

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I Say, You Say, We All Essay

Many folks feel the most creative writing happens in short stories and novels…

Today’s Re-blog gives you ample reason to include essays :-)

Eleventh Stack

Remember essays? You know, those structured paragraphs of writing that were graded for how well they conformed to the prescribed formula that your fifth grade teacher dictated? Yeah, those. They’re baaaaaaaaack.  And before you delete this post for the cringe-worthy feelings it might evoke of writer’s block and broken pencils (remember pencils?) there’s something you need to know about The Essay: Today’s essays are not the essays of your elementary school days. They’re better. Much better.

Like that kid who was the bane of your existence, The Essay also has grown up and evolved and has a heart and a soul. If it isn’t obvious, I love essays. And in another shocker, I admit that I was one of those kids who loved writing them, too …five sentence paragraphs and all. (I often took some liberties in my essay writing, but that’s another post for another day.)

I love essays…

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Too Old to Write a Book?

Yesterday, my Best Friend sent me a link to an article from Overland, authored by Melissa Fagan, a Brisbane-based writer, writing teacher, and MPhil candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland.

Too Old to Write a Book?

Image Courtesy of mihai radu ~

The article is entitled Not Dead Yet.

I found it intensely absorbing since my Best Friend published her first novel at 50 and I, in spite of a life-long love of words didn’t get busy writing seriously till my mid-50s.

The first point made by Melissa (quoting from a New York Times op-ed) is:

“‘Age-based awards are outdated and discriminatory, even if unintentionally so. Emerging writers are emerging writers.’”

Melissa had outed herself as an “emerging writer” who’s over 35

She brings up the disturbing trend that assumes 40 is some sort of “obvious” cut-off age for a writer’s spark and verve

She also shares a compelling list of authors who quash that idea

Another excerpt:

“There are all sorts of trajectories a writing journey can take, and a writer’s emergence can be stymied or delayed by any number of things. Lack of opportunity or education. Disability or addiction. Physical or mental illness. Choosing, or being forced into, a primary caring role. Being consumed by a demanding career, or by a sense of obligation – to one’s parents perhaps, or one’s community – to meet a prescribed set of expectations. Or, as Stephanie Convery has written about with honesty and eloquence, a writer may be thwarted by her own demons: by jealousy, anxiety, or an unwillingness to fail.”

She poignantly reveals her own struggles, then says:

“Do we honestly think that it’s harder for young writers to be published, to break out or break through, to emerge to wherever or whatever the hell it is we’re emerging to? Or is there something else at play: a doubling down perhaps, or a doubling up? A preference for precocity that, when examined, starts to look a lot like prejudice.”

Do you know “emerging” writers over 40?

Over 50?


Do you think youth has some special ingredient that helps writers but disappears as one ages?

Are the experiences garnered in five or six decades more valuable than the ones plucked in the spring of life?

Is it somehow “wrong” to take the whole of middle-age to finish writing a book?

Does our literate culture over-value youth?

One of Melissa’s commenters:

“Thank you for this. I’m trying to be an emerging writer and I’m 44. I’ve been trying to fit this in around a chronic illness that developed when I was 29, and I can also relate to your personal aspects of discouragement and lack of resilience….”

Another commenter:

“Why all this fixation on writing processes, I wonder? Just write the stuff, if that’s your wont, and dwell on all the other bullshit not.”


“…I waited until now, when I have four small children, too many pets, and everyone needs clean clothes and food, several times a day, and here I am, finding the moments to scratch out stories. It’s less to do with youth and more to do with when you’re ready.”

Perhaps you have thoughts or feelings to share in the Comments (about you or someone you know)?
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Ever Wondered How An Author Actually Writes A Novel?

Many will think today’s post is only for writers; or, those who wish they were… Nail Your Novel

I think many readers could profit from this post—especially if they’re avid readers—people like that often turn into writers

This post could also be valuable for publishers who really don’t understand what writers do

And, since writers are readers and many readers turn into writers and self-publishing is so popular, many people wear all three hats.

So, I think most anyone should keep reading :-)

Yesterday, I re-blogged a post from Roz Morris.

Today, I’m going to plug one of her booksNail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence.

This is a book I wish I’d read 50 years ago

My development as a writer followed the arc fleshed-out in Francine Prose‘s book, Reading Like A Writer.

I’ve read omnivorously—absorbed what I needed to learn from discovering what a good book was and reading tons of them.

I think, before discovering Roz, I’d only read one how-to-write book (along with a bunch of writings tips…); and, I’ve posted here, often, that most books about writing aren’t worth reading

Nail Your Novel is vastly different.

In fact, I suspect many other authors have co-opted her ideas and sold them as their own.

Perhaps they’ve been fair and credited her—she certainly isn’t shy about given other folks credit

Here’s Roz about her credentials:

“I’ve written about a dozen novels. Spines and covers must remain hidden because they were ghosted under strictest secrecy. Millions of readers have enjoyed my storytelling – and that’s no exaggeration because average sales were 500,000 copies each.”

More exactly, she’s sold more than 4 million copies as a ghostwriter

And, she’s now writing novels with her own name on the cover.

How to explain what reading Nail Your Novel was like

It was Exciting—she woke up my Muse and set her spinning :-)

Maybe I should let Roz tell you about the book:

“Most things we do we have a plan for. In most jobs, if we have a task to do, there’s a project plan, a schedule, a methodology.”

“I’ve been writing novels for years and helping floundering writers find their way. What I notice time and time again is that so many make it very hard for themselves, even experienced authors.”

“For instance, many writers paint themselves into a corner because they are tackling a problem at the wrong time.

“They get blocked because the critical parts of their brain are inhibiting their creativity.

“Or their overactively inventive imagination is stopping them seeing the simple, rational solution. Or they are attempting to spice up a dull story by adding more events, when really they need to find a way to examine the ones they already have.”

“I’ve developed a method to tackle all the milestones of writing a novel, from initial inspiration to final polish. It’s smart and efficient. It draws on techniques from Hollywood scriptwriting, improvisational drama, project management and sports psychology – because experts in those fields have already solved problems that novel-writers come across.”

“My method will not only help you finish a novel, it makes the whole writing business a lot more creative and fun. A thoroughly planned novel takes less time to write. Even better, it is more likely to succeed in today’s market because it will have been properly structured, fixed and polished.”

If I taught writing, I’d probably have the students read Francine Prose’s book in tandem with Roz’s—get them consulting about the balance between writing to a plan and absorbing while they read

But, remember, Nail Your Novel is Exciting.

Roz certainly teaches you about the importance of structure and planning; but, she does it while letting you breathe—she lays out her hard-won wisdom and offers you alternatives, too—she lets you Play.

Actually, I’m certain many writers have read her book multiple times—each reading uncovering new nuggets of gold.

And, if you’d like to read the first 16 pages of the book<—click there.

Also, be sure to click on that cover image up there and buy the book; and, even if you’re certain you’ll never write a novel, buy the book as a gift for that friend of yours who’s holed-up in some god-forsaken shack, mired in depression

Buy the book and read it many times; then, check out Roz’s blog for a continuing refresher course

Plus, you may want to check out all of Roz’s booksNail Your Novel was followed by two other books in the series; plus, there are the novels with her own name on the cover :-)

Special Monday BlogBonus:

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