Seriously, only seven? Is that all it takes? No. But it’s a start.

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Photo by RetroSupply on Unsplash

Writing advice exhausts me.

It’s everywhere. Do this, and do that. Don’t do this, don’t do that. Follow these rules for writing a story, an article, a poem, a book, and you will be great!

As if that is all there is to writing well. Following rules. A list of “to dos.”

Certainly, there is craft and grammar and style. And yes, there are parameters, the guidelines (although I use that word — guidelines — with pause) that any good writer works within. Think baseball. You can be a great player—hit homers, steal bases—but you must proceed by the rules. Three strikes and you’re out. Nine innings. There are rules and guidelines all the players have agreed upon. But within those guidelines, have at it! Every batter’s swing is different, as long as you hit the ball. Writing is the same way. …


What Amanda Gorman taught every writer on Inauguration Day

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Courtesy: www.theamandagorman.com

Some things you might not have know about the young poet who wowed all of us at the Inauguration.

  1. She has a twin. Gabrielle. A filmmaker in Los Angeles where they both grew up with their mother.
  2. She wrote a children’s book. Change Sings. It’ll be out in September.
  3. She suffered for many years with a speech impediment.

But what might be the most important thing every writer should know about Amanda, is that it was a small Los Angeles volunteer youth program that gave her the gift to keep writing.

WriteGirl helps young girls hone their writing skills. …


How three photos alerted me to the little things that motivate a creative life

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Dylan Thomas’ Writing Shed

This is Dylan Thomas’ boathouse in Wales. A few years ago when I was dreaming of creating my own writing space, his little shed in Laugharne was always on my mind. And in many ways, I modeled the writing shed on my property with Thomas’ space in mind—the white walls, the window over the desk. I tried to recreate a bit of that beautiful space. But what I did not anticipate was how the tiny things carried over.

The above photo in Thomas’ boathouse, now a museum of a kind, is somewhat staged, of course, but it’s believed that it was created to reflect Thomas’ everyday life there, modeled from photos and memories. …


How the old adage can bring real meaning to your work

From contributor Floyd Sullivan

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Photo by Beck VdlaRok on Unsplash

Chicago photographer Rick Peters made his debut in the opening pages of the first volume of Writer Shed Stories. But that’s not when he was born. Peters is a character that I have been living with and developing for over thirty years.

Here’s how it happened.

In the late 1980s a friend landed a job in the publicity department of a large New York publishing house. She told me I should write the first one hundred pages of a book, any genre, and she would use her connections to help sell it to her new employer. I decided to go one big step further and write the whole book, a novel, a mystery novel because that was, and still is, my dream: to write in the footsteps of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald, and newcomers, at the time, Sara Paretsky, and Sue Grafton. …


Flash Fiction

By Contributor Nick Young

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Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

She couldn’t know — how could she?

She was but five, so she couldn’t know that the ancient figure across the room was anything but stooped by the weight of time. She couldn’t know that once that woman with brittle skin etched by life’s toil was as full of joy as she, reveling in the summer sun as she ran, laughing, through the dazzling wildflowers sprinkled up the slope of the low hillside that rose toward a patch of thick timber behind the faded brick farmhouse. How could she know that as a schoolgirl the old one was bright, full of curiosity about the world, and thirsty as a sponge for knowledge? Or that in her teenage years, she kept a secret diary, confiding in its deckled pages the thrill of kissing a boy for the first time and her dreams of going to a college in the ivied East and living in a city with soaring buildings of dizzying heights. She couldn’t know how those yearnings were crushed away to dust by parents who put no stock in a girl having “them notions,” prodding her relentlessly so that she finally surrendered, exhausted, abandoned her books and fell in with a fast crowd, living loose, for the thrill of the moment, flouting rectitude. How could she know that the woman before her with lank gray hair and a stolid thickness about her once had a pin-up’s face and a body that was all tightness and curves, driving men to frenzies of passion and jealousy, sometimes settled with fists or a knife. She could not know about the barroom nights that ended in a shabby room in a rundown motel on the far side of the railroad tracks. …


The personal story of how writing changes lives

By Contributor John Zimmerman

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I was a lonely lad laid low by timidity. Then I found a wonderful childhood friend. Writing. Writing made it all better.

I could pick up a pencil and write myself the life I wanted. My words would take me to the high seas, upon which I commanded a pirate ship, twirling a sword over my head as I led equally mighty men to humble those who had humiliated me. …


Why writing fast could be the best advice you’ll ever get

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Photo by Saffu on Unsplash

Haste makes waste, as my mother used to say. And when it comes to your writing, that is exactly what you want. Waste.

My early writing career was shaped by journalism, mainly broadcast journalism. Deadlines. And in the broadcast world it isn’t only deadlines, but what you’ve done in the last five minutes. Broadcast news editors and news directors have a churn and burn mentality. And that’s how I learned to write, to get after it!

When I left broadcast news as a full time endeavor, I was writing for an online publication. The editor there asked me once, “How in the hell do you get this stuff done so fast?” He had come from the magazine world where there were certainly deadlines, but they were nothing like the ones I had learned to meet. My answer was simple: “Broadcast news.” Writing fast served me well. …

About

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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