Sylvia Plath kept a journal. So did Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Madeleine L’Engle. What did these and many other writers find valuable about journaling?
According to Virginia Woolf, a writer’s journal or notebook is a place to practice writing regularly. She said, “But what is more to the point is my belief that the habit of writing thus for my own eye only is good practice. It loosens the ligaments. Never mind the misses and the stumbles...I believe that during the past year I can trace some increase of ease in my professional writing which I attribute to my casual half hours after tea.”
The long hot days of summer are fast upon us, and with them there will be time for sports, time for camp, time to dream, and time to do. Time to start a diary or journal?
A journal can be written for only yourself, to write down the things that are important to you: lists of favorites (music, t.v., and movies), pictures of friends and family, and, of course, your innermost thoughts. Fun times deserve to be remembered, and sometimes writing about a bad situation can help you deal with it better as you think it through on paper. That kind of journal is personal, and you may not wish to share it with anyone.
Writing tends to be a solitary activity. From hours of research to even more hours of honing one’s prose or choosing just the right word for a new poem, writers spend a lot of their time working alone. That’s what makes a writers' group so helpful and refreshing. You can get together with other writers who understand what you’ve been doing, learn something new to improve your work, make connections for future marketing or partnerships, and get some feedback on your current project.
Writing is a peculiar art. Some people seem to be born with a distinctive style and voice which comes effortlessly to them. Most of us, however, need to work hard to learn the fundamentals and are constantly seeking to improve our ability to craft sentences, create paragraphs, and organize a coherent series of ideas which make up a well-written book or article.
As a kindergarten teacher, my mother would start the school year by asking her students to write their names. I asked her once if she could tell which kids had been to preschool based on their writing. Sometimes, she told me. More often, though, it was a sign of which ones had parents who read and wrote with them regularly.
Reading and writing go hand in hand in helping children develop the literacy skills they’ll need later in life, such as understanding that print has meaning. The National Early Literacy Panel determined that, for children five and under, writing ability is one of the main predictors of later literacy achievement.
Tom Bissell's Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creations represents the best of what an essay collection can offer: incisive observations about a wide range of intriguing topics, intelligent social commentary that refrains from didacticism, and a good sense of comedic timing. Bissell's essays are characterized by impressive eclecticism. He discusses established cultural figures like Ernest Hemingway, David Foster Wallace, and Werner Herzog, as well as less conventional subjects, such as Tommy Wiseau (the auteur responsible for the cult film The Room), the Underground Literary Alliance, and Jennifer Hale, “the Queen of Video-game Voice-over.” While these topics might seem incurably disparate, Bissell's interest in the process and consequences of creation provides a framework which links them together.
Have you ever wanted to become a writer and brave the strange and confusing world of trying to sell your work to the publishing industry? Do you feel you might need a refresher course in creating a marketable thriller or romance novel? If you are curious about improving your writing technique to make your work more compelling, concise, or appealing to publishers, you may benefit from How Not to Write a Novel, a writing guide from Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman. This guide is a compilation of examples of common writing mistakes that can make novels confusing, boring, or unappealing to read. Humorous and well-organized, this book is both a great educational resource and a good comedic read.
Chloe and the Lion is not about a young girl facing off with a ferocious feline, no matter what the title says. Sure, Chloe's present, saving up her nickels and dimes to ride the merry-go-round. She does, in fact, spin around that ride so many times that she gets dizzy and lost in the nearby woods. It is at that very point that Chloe should meet a lion. Instead, a large, ferocious, winged, burgundy dragon steps out.
Writing a picture book is hard work. You must have a solid story, likable characters, and the right choice of words. What's more, this delicate balance can be completely thrown out of whack by a maverick illustrator who thinks that "a dragon would be cooler."
It’s one of life’s ironies that you don’t realize how much someone’s impacted your life until they’re gone. More specifically, you realize that you never told that person how much they meant. It isn’t until they pass that you think, “Oh! I wish I had said something!” You think about how that person shaped who you are, in major or even subtle ways, and sometimes realize that you wouldn’t be you if it weren’t for that person’s influence, guidance, or mere presence in your life.
Mr. Safire had no college degree, yet he went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1978 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006. Already in his forties when he joined the NYT staff, Safire had previously worked as a U.S. Army correspondant, as a publicist, and as a radio & television producer. He also wrote speeches for Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew and was outraged to discover that Nixon's administration had been secretly taping his phone conversations.