Here are some of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen, bundled together as summer bounty for writers in the Northern Hemisphere. Are you planning on taking time off? Hard at work? Both? See what works for you here:
BACCA’s own Noelle Beverly put this evergreen blog post together a while ago for our website, after working on an internal document for our critique group. I notice that I keep sharing the link with other writers! Noelle’s apparently simple approach to critiquing the written work of another is powerful.
Noelle has given us invaluable, humility-inducing advice and I recommend it to your attention. Take in this state of mind first, before starting to think critically about the pages you’ve received from a fellow writer.
Is This Necessary?
Are you overwhelmed? Desperate for ways to pare down the obligations, shoulds, lists, expectations, and self-flogging? Creativity coach LA Bourgeois (here’s her guest blog about Kaizen Muse for my website) in a recent newsletter advises us to “Chop wood, carry water. This phrase means to focus on simple acts and perform them to the best of your ability. Do NOTHING extra.”
LA’s guidance may ring true for you as it does for me. I’m even considering – gasp – abandoning to-do lists during my time off next month.
Is This the End, My Friend?
Are you struggling with the ending to a piece of writing? George Saunders in one of his first public “Office Hours” essays provides ten ways to think about endings. While he’s speaking to short stories, I can see many of these ideas applying in other creative contexts as well.
Saunders tells of a class he taught when non-writing-major undergrads all knew which elements of a Vonnegut story needed to be addressed to achieve a satisfactory conclusion. This gives me hope.
Not Made for These Times?
To wrap up, for those readers who, like me, are feeling swamped, struggling to move forward in the wake of so many cruel, baffling, unconscionable decisions from the US Supreme Court and elsewhere: Buddhist psychologist Tara Brach provided a podcast episode for us. “Navigating the Dark Ages” acknowledges the current environment and offers ways to keep going, finding and making meaning along the way with a sense of connectedness to others and participation in the long arc of human history. Give it a listen.
— A M Carley writes fiction and nonfiction, and is a founding member of BACCA. Through Anne Carley Creative she provides creative coaching and full-service editing to writers and other creative people. Decks of her 52 FLOAT Cards for Writers are available from Baine’s Books in Scottsville and Appomattox, VA, and on Amazon. Anne’s writer handbook, FLOAT • Becoming Unstuck for Writers, is available for purchase from central Virginia booksellers, at Bookshop.org, and on Amazon. A new handbook, The FLOAT Journal: Becoming Unstuck on the Page, is forthcoming.