How reading outside what you write can be the medicine for new ideas

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Photo by Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash

Never been much of a reader of horror or psychological thrillers. Certainly not the writer of such. Don’t think I would be skilled enough to write with what it takes to do it well. Although, I admire those who have done it brilliantly and still do. There are many, some I’m unfamiliar with, I’m sure. But I certainly know the classic “horror” writers and their books—Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker.

What I don’t like are the gratuitously violent stories—books, TV or movies. First…


Facial hair is change and change is good for the writer

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Men grow beards. But why?

Research shows it might have something to do with dominance, some deep-down primal thing. Then again, maybe it’s laziness. No office to go to during the pandemic, so, “I’m not shaving!” And then there’s the newest research that shows the growth of facial hair is about men trying to outdo other men.

None of it seems conclusive.

British trends about facial hair from the mid 1800s to the mid 1970s found that men with facial hair increased at the same time that the number…


When short is not just good, it’s great

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Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

I’ve written many times here at The Writer Shed about the beauty of a well-told, short, and crisply written story. Tight and brilliant. The anti-tome. I’m a big fan of little books with big punches, stories that sear into you with the fewest of words.

Old Man and the Sea has always made an inspiration to me. I’ve written about it here. Hemingway’s novella is very much a fable, its inner story revealed in action in just128 pages.

There are many little books with big stories to tell. Here is a list…


What resonates most with readers is when you are unafraid to open up

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This is a short piece today about a big thing—how deep to go in a personal story. Most of it comes from fellow Medium writer Devin Arrigo.

Devin is an athlete and a personal growth expert. Becoming a writer came unexpectedly to him. It happened when he decided to truly open up and tell the messy personal stories, the hardest ones to write.

I learned in my own writing, and then imparted the same in workshops, that one must allow the veins to open when writing personal…


Giving your writing a break might be the best advice ever

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Photo by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash

Here at The Writer Shed, we have fallen into it to. This idea that writing, the art of telling a story, is somehow linked to a series of “to dos.” There’s a formula or a secret pathway. How many articles have you read that claim “if you do these three steps” you can write a novel. If you stick to “these five rules” you’ll write a masterpiece.

We all know that’s garbage.

Norman Mailer called writing The Spooky Art. He wrote an entire book about it. I agree with…


Actually, they came. And they have left an indelible mark on writing.

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Photo by Irina Grotkjaer on Unsplash

Thank you, George Saunders. How could I forget? The Russian writers may be the most influential artists of all time. That may be hyperbole to some, but if you read them, study them, and let their words permeate your writerly world, you can not help be inspired, motivated, and in awe.

Oh sure, some of the works will infuriate you. What is the point? The plot, where is it? But understand, these are what I’ve called—and I’ve heard George Saunders call them this, also—”quiet stories.” They don’t shock…


What writing instructors tell you not to do that sometimes you should

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Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

If you’ve taken a writing class, attended a workshop, or listened to a writer talk about writing, many times you will hear, in some fashion or another, a list of to-dos, rules, if you will, to stand by. Those “rules” come with good intentions. But generally, mostly, they are simply reminders or guidelines, and should be tossed out. Much of the advice is to help but instead creates other writing problems.

If I were to tell you to, “never do this,” that advice, in its own way, would…


What the hell does that mean?

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Jack Kerouac

I have this strange fascination with what writer’s wear. The photo above of Jack Kerouac shows a rather nattily dressed gentleman. He must have had something special to attend. Jack was more a khaki-pants kind of guy, a flannel shirt, and the ever present cigarette, a fashion prop in its own right.

What we wear says something about all of us. For writers, what clothes they put on might be part of their persona or image, or it might just be practicality. Maybe it has nothing to do with anything. …


Creation leads to angst, but it’s all part of the gig

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

It could be a book. It could be a poem. It could be a short story, a personal essay, a song I wrote on my guitar. When it’s done and I feel I can do no better at that particular time on that particular thing, the process must end. Art, as has been said, is never finished, only abandoned.

And then. Oh my, then, it goes out to the world.

Yikes.

I’ve written several books and every single time I send the final draft manuscript to the publisher, even…


Audio is now audio to ring out from within

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Turn it up loud!

The Writer Shed is now available as a podcast. It’s easily found. And will be more easily found wherever you get your podcasts in the coming days.

Why do this?

Yes, I know. Everyone has a podcast. It’s the trend from the corporate animals to the sports nut in the basement in his underwear. But the beauty is that podcasting truly is the democratization of thought. Anyone can do it; anyone can say anything. Let the downloaders determine what works.

The Writer Shed is not going to…

David W. Berner, The Writer Shed

Award-winning writer. Author of memoir and fiction. Editor of Medium publication: THE WRITER SHED.

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