Skip to main content

On Observing

Image placeholder title

“Most
of us, most of the time, shunt most of what we notice into the same recycling
bin where we dump what we imagine. Luckily for writers, at least a little of
what we dump can be retrieved and recycled. Once you are at work, most of the
memories that serve you will be pulled from your vast back file of the half
noticed and half forgotten. As a writer you must observe the unobserved. The
details that give life and vividness are seen mostly out of the corner of your
eye...

Once
your unconscious mind has really begun to focus on a given project, it is
likely that your powers of observation will focus with it and seem to be
suddenly transformed. Things that fit your project seem to pop up everywhere
you look. The project becomes a kind of lens that gives the mind an uncanny
ability to organize randomness with an inner focus that will make what matters
jump out at you from every side. Suddenly, the world seems to overflow with
what you need. ‘When I am writing,’ says Edmund White, ‘I find that my brain
begins to store information in a different way than it usually does. That is,
I’m looking out for things I need, and I will grab them anywhere. And there’s a
magic any writer can tell you about: The world provides you with the
information you need, it seems, just when you need it.’”

Stephen
Koch, Modern Library Writer’s Workshop

Why You Should Beware Homophones

Why You Should Beware Homophones

Mistaking a word for a similar one is not an uncommon mistake, but an important one to catch when editing your work. Here, Audrey Wick shares why you should beware homophones and shares a homophone-catching test to practice with.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Blackmail

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Blackmail

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, one character blackmails another.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

30 Poetry Prompts From 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Get all 30 poetry prompts from the 15th annual November Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge here. Actually, 35 prompts if you're counting Two-for-Tuesday prompts!

How to Stalk Publishing Professionals on Social Media in an Appropriate Way

How to Stalk Publishing Professionals on Social Media in an Appropriate Way

Many people are self-professed "stalkers" on social media, whether they're following life events of friends or celebrities. But writers can learn quite a bit on social media by stalking publishing professionals too, and this post covers the appropriate way to do so.

Vérant

Samantha Vérant: On Romance and Recipes

Author Samantha Vérant discusses how her writing process changed while writing her new contemporary romance novel, The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 633

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a warm up poem.

Do I Pitch Different to Agents vs. Editors?

Do I Pitch Different to Agents vs. Editors?

Every so often writers ask if they should pitch different to agents vs. editors. This post answers that question and provides some extra help on how to successfully pitch both.

Urban Legend

Urban Legend

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, feature an urban legend in your story.

Grose, 12:6

Jessica Grose: On the Unsustainability of Parenting

Opinion writer and author Jessica Grose discusses the complicated subject of modern motherhood in her new nonfiction book, Screaming on the Inside.