Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What does your writing room look like?

Stephen King's writing space
Gotta have some fun with this:

Sue found a Dave Eggers column in The Washington Post in which he discusses 'the writing life.' He says he writes "in a shed in my backyard. I have a sheet draped over the shed's window because without it the morning sun would blast through and blind me. So I'm looking at a gray sheet, which is nailed to the wall in two places and sags in the middle like a big, gray smile. And the sheet is filthy. And the shed is filthy. If I left this place unoccupied for a week, it would become home to woodland animals. They probably would clean it up first."

Mark Twain's study
 His point is that sometimes the shed drives him nuts and he just has to get out. But his description got Sue and I thinking about what the writing rooms -- real ones, and/or an imagined ideal -- of people we know would look like, and what that would say about them.

 For example, we know that Buffy writes in a room decorated with frilly, fluffy pink things and a pink-rhinestone encrusted laptop.

 So what does your writing room -- the real one, and the one you'd create for yourself if you could -- look like? Leave your answers in the comments.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Facebook feed turned into a narrative

The Washington Post (with permission) took a woman's Facebook feed -- she was a constant updater -- and edited it to tell the story of childbirth followed by complications, and how it turned out.

This is the type of story that conventionally could be a long narrative. It's fascinating to see how it works in this format.

Update: The writer talks about how he put the story together.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Christmas list of good reads

Writers behind Gangrey.com just posted their "Top Longreads of 2010." Can't imagine better tips if you're in search of a compelling story or 20 to read.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

An amazing story -- and that's just about the author

I thought "Seabiscuit" by Laura Hillenbrand was a great book. I had no idea she researched and wrote it while ill with chronic fatigue syndrome. And now she's published another book -- still while fighting the disease that all but confines her to her home. This is a great piece on her, how she researched and wrote "Unbroken," and how she and her husband have stayed together despite her illness.
 And she's an inspiration to anyone who wants to write (or do anything, really) and thinks they're too tired to keep going.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Build good writing habits on Facebook, Twitter

Good stuff from Poynter's Roy Peter Clark about writing well on social networks. As usual, he turns what can be seen as a problem (in this case, character limits) into an opportunity. Excerpt:

...all readers and writers have experience with even smaller containers for good writing: a journal entry, a haiku, a telegram, an epitaph for a gravestone, a love message on one of those candy valentine hearts, the chorus of a song. Back in the day, headline writers counted available spaces per line, and poets still count syllables. Writers on Twitter and Facebook just happen to count characters (or to have characters counted for them by The Machine.)
This is a good thing. Any metric of length forces a discipline on the writer.