Comparing your writing to others is a terrible thing to do

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Let’s start with a little story.

I have had my writing rejected far more times than it has been accepted. That is just the way it goes. I do not calculate such things, but thinking now, I likely have been rejected by publishers and editors at journals and magazines, oh, 300–400 times? That’s probably about right. I have been writing professionally for nearly twenty years, so, that seems realistic.

My books have been up for awards, and yes, I’ve won some. But I have been dismissed far more often…

The Abundance, a new weekly publication on what matters now

A writing experiment at Substack

When I was a young man, it never occurred to me that I would grow older. It is not a thought for the mind of the innocent. But, of course, there comes a time when reality catches up with you. Maybe it is when the first gray hair arrives, or when a knee buckles, or with the purchase of a pair of reading glasses. Now at the age when there are far fewer years in front than behind, I wonder about what it truly means to age. We all face…

If you want a formula, go do arithmetic

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Writing is not efficient. It is not a neat little equation. It is not tidy and clean and does not run on a clear path. Do not look for answers. Instead, embrace the mystery.

Norman Mailer called writing “the spooky art.” It’s easy to see why. Problem is many people who come to workshops or are students in my classes want a five-step process. If I do these things, then I’ll have a good novel. That is certainly not embracing the mystery of the art.

Yes, making a plan seems the right…

(Just as Well) It’s Not About the Bike, by Chris Atkin

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I have always been drawn to the traveler. On the Road was my first love. And I have come to explore wonderful books of travel through the eyes of great writers like Pico Iyer, Bruce Chatwin, and Robert McFarlane, and little known books too, like the one from adventurer and cyclist Alastair Humphreys entitled My Midsummer Morning. In it, Humphreys re-steps the walking travels of Englishman Laurie Lee who in 1935 hiked his way across Spain through the little towns, living slowly and simply.

All of this brings me…

How to get your writing back on track

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I’m working on a novel. About halfway, I think. Going well, I thought. Now, I am stuck.

What to do?

I’ve been here before, unsure of what will come next, not certain of the way the story will go. I am not a planner, an outliner. I write and let the story take me then go back for heavy editing. I work best when I let the writing control me and not the other way around. But sometimes, the wheels find the mud and everything stops.

I know it will clear and…

We are beginning book reviews at the Shed. Submit yours.

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New endeavor at the Shed.


We are now accepting submissions of new books. You can submit your book for review directly to Writer Shed Press at All books must be delivered after submission acceptance to the Shed by email (PDF, ebook, Mobi) or by snail mail (paperback or hardback). Addresses will accompany the acceptance email.

The reviews are free.

How do we determine what is reviewed?

Book must be published within the last twelve months.

Book must have at least one physical copy available for sale. …

You don’t have to be famous to live like an artist

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I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. And, ultimately, trying to live it. Many times it takes effort. And sometimes, in those sublime moments, it just comes naturally—sweet like honey.

Living the creative life. What does that mean to you? The starving artist? The journeyer? The seeker? The unconventional? There are certainly many to emulate in this great tradition—Rimbaud, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Dylan (both Dylan Thomas and Bob), Patti Smith, Picasso, Van Gogh—I could go on and on with the icons, the bohemian legends. Some have had…

My dream to write and sleep inside a legendary bohemian bookstore

From Creative Commons

Iwas lucky enough to be the Writer-in-Residence at the Jack Kerouac House, living in his old Orlando cottage for three months to write in the summer of 2011. Still, one of the best times of my writing life. My time as the Writer-in-Residence at the Hemingway Birthplace Home was also a big part of my creative growth. I worked in an attic office built inside the Victorian home in Oak Park, Illinois where Ernest was born.

Despite this, I still have a writer-in-residence dream to fulfill.

I want to…

The spooky part of writing stories

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I don’t believe in inspiration. I don’t believe in “ah-ha” moments. I believe in work.

Writing is craft. You have to show up and get to it. But, and this is a big but, story ideas don’t come from work, they come non-work, or at least when we all consider in our capitalist world what we have deemed as “real” work for a hundred years.

You’ve certainly have heard the notion that a writer is always working—thinking about sentences, narrative movement, words, characters, scenes. I can’t tell you how many countless times I have…

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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