10 Awesome Writing Blogs


They make one of these for everything, don't they?

There’s one of these for everything, right?

This is a writing post, clearly. But before I get to my list of awesome blogs, an aside:

Recently, I went out of my (solitary, antisocial, hiding-in-a-dark-corner) comfort zone and went on an audition. I know, insane. But there’s this national event called, Listen To Your Mother, and it features 12 essayists reading their work aloud on Mother’s Day. This is a stretch for me for two major reasons: one, I’m primarily a fiction writer (with the exception of what I write on this blog, of course) and two, I rarely have the occasion to read my work aloud. Not to mention in front of a huge audience.

The essay, in case you’re curious, compares my mother’s labor toward death, which I witnessed, to my own labor with Bunky. Two entirely different things, you’d think, but more like flip sides of a coin.

Me and my mom circa 77.

Well. The good news is that I mustered up my courage and auditioned. Even better, I reworked an unfinished piece and polished it up nice and pretty-like. The not as good news is I didn’t make the cut. They had over 70 auditions and only 12 spots. Plus, the essays need to tell a story of sorts, and perhaps mine didn’t fit in. Who knows. In any case, I’m proud that I gave it a shot. I plan on submitting the piece to other places and maybe it will find a home after all. Truthfully, I’d rather have it published and read by others than read it aloud in front of an audience.

Because most of us writers are not actually performers (though I’m sure some are). We tend to come from a more solitary stock, the kind that skulks in the back of bookstores and hunkers down in front of computers. But there are moments when we need help, and thank goodness for the Internet, because it is FILLED with free advice.

On the flip side, since we’re talking about flip sides, it’s very easy to get buried beneath TOO much free advice – the good and the bad. It helps to first find the writing blogs that you like, that speak to your style, and then keep track of them on something like bloglovin (you can even follow me on it).

Now hang on, don’t go running off yet. Be careful not to follow too many blogs, because you may find yourself reading a whole lot about writing, but not writing so much. OR, trying to incorporate too much of other people’s advice into your work. My friend and fellow blogger, Kath, wrote a post about this, and other writing challenges, here, check it out. She’s a fab writer and illustrator whose site I often turn to for both insight and advice (and this is why I’ve added her as my 11th awesome blog!)

Getting back on topic here, the key is finding balance – read only the blogs you love, then filter through the individual posts, taking in ONLY what you need. Ignore the rest. This is the tricky part because once you start reading, you may think, oh crap I have to change everything about my story/novel/essay. It can really mess with your brain. My advice is try not to over think and go with your gut instead. No one is an expert on your WORK except you. Sure, other blogs can help you hone your craft and perfect certain techniques, but only you know what your story, novel, poem, or essay needs.

This baby knows where it's at.

This baby knows where it’s at.

And now finally, here are the 10 writing blogs I’ve been perusing lately to help inspire me as I toil through my novel revision rewrite. Maybe a few will appeal to you. But if not, don’t worry. Just find the ones that do. (And then tell me about them!)

In no particular order…

10 AWESOME WRITING BLOGS

  • Helping Writers Become Authors … gotta love this blog name, and it happens to have some fantastic advice
  • Live Write Thrive … great posts on technique and grammar, plus a wealth of info in the archives, check out her older series, The Heart of Your Story
  • Fiction University (formerly, The Other Side of the Story) … insightful and practical posts by a fantasy writer, but the info is universal and spot on
  • Terrible Minds … do you enjoy acerbic humor and foul language as much as I do? If yes, then look no further, the advice isn’t shabby either (actually, it’s pretty stellar)
  • The Write Practice … where the other blogs are more advice driven, this is action driven with writing prompts and practice ideas
  • Moody Writing … another fab name, right? Solid advice and eye catching images may get you in the mood (couldn’t resist, sorry)
  • Write to Done … a place to go for inspiration and advice, plus writing prompts
  • Goins, Writer … this Goins character writes posts that are practical and inspirational
  • Writers Helping Writers … resources and hints from the authors of the Thesaurus series
  • A Design So Vast … not a writing blog per say, but this woman’s posts often blow my mind, turning the seemingly mundane into magic and inspiring me to do the same
  • * I know I’ve already hit 10, but I must add Minuscule Moments of Inspiration … the blogger I referenced earlier, whose writing and camaraderie I respect so much

There you have it. But this is only the tip of the iceberg of awesome writing blogs, so PLEASE share in comments about all the blogs I’m missing. Can’t wait to add them to my queue.

A Word and a Winner

Happy New Year’s everyone, and yes, I’ll get to the “word” portion of this post, but first – a winner for my first ever giveaway!

Completely random fishbowl drawing.

Completely random fishbowl drawing.

Kath from the fabulous blog, Minuscule Moments of Inspiration, is the lucky recipient of our random drawing for the book, Gluten-Free Me! A book about celiac for kids, which I reviewed the other week.

Gotta love the mismatched Hello Kitty pjs.

Gotta love the mismatched Hello Kitty pjs.

Please try not to notice how I misspelled my abbreviation of "minuscule."

Please try not to notice my misspelled abbreviation. Handwriting doesn’t come with spellcheck, unfortunately.

Congrats to Kath, but also a huge and genuine THANK YOU to all who entered. After reading everyone’s comments, I really wanted to give everyone a copy. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do more reviews and giveaways in the future. Stay tuned.

Now, for the word… Or rather, many words leading up to the word…

Last year I decided instead of making a resolution I’d chose one word (inspired by this blog) to define and inspire my new year. The word I picked was, nurture. When I was first thinking about this post, it didn’t seem like I had made much of a dent in my goal. After all, one salon hair cut, a handful of manicures, and one Sephora.com make up order didn’t seem like much. But when I gave it more thought, I realized I had done a better job than I gave myself credit for. (Typical.)

What had initially come to mind was the superficial kind of nurture (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but I also made time to nurture my dreams and goals. For example, in the fall of 2013 I attended a writer’s conference where I didn’t know a single person and spent two days immersing myself into a world I had been afraid to reenter.

lwcnyc

I spoke with literary agents about my novel manuscript (hiding in a safe, oh the irony!) for over five years and even read the first page of it during a panel. I was absolutely taken aback when I received some positive comments. And later, after an agent gave me her card I went into a bathroom stall and did a silent scream/happy dance. When I got home, I felt giddy, invigorated, determined, scared, and excited. I pulled out the manuscript and read it through for the first time.

I read Dani Shspiro’s inspiring book, Still Writing (I can’t recommend this enough) and felt like she was speaking to me. There is a passage in the book about procrastination, ah you old false friend, that hit a nerve for me. I didn’t want to procrastinate anymore. I started to feel an urgency that had escaped me before. Time was passing by and if I didn’t start taking my writing life seriously now, when would I?

During this time I decided to work with a life coach – something I never thought I’d do, but I’m so glad I did. Brainstorming ways to improve ME.

If all that isn’t the definition of nurture I don’t know what is.

So, what could be my word for 2014? I thought about balance because I’m struggling to find that right now between mothering and writing. But balance didn’t feel quite right. That word evoked a scale, a shifting of weights, an unevenness, the impossible task of making everything come out even. But most times in life it doesn’t. One side will always tip higher or lower. Since I’ve never been good at multi-tasking, I started to feel anxious. How could I do both? But then I realized something obvious and freeing: I can do both – just not at the same time.

As Kath wrote in her poignant New Year’s post, I See You, I’m a mother first and a creative second. I can’t afford to be lost in my head thinking of plot points or researching dialogue techniques while my children vie for my attention. Both of us lose if I try to multi-task. I’m resentful for being interrupted and my children are resentful at being seen as interruptions.

What Bunky and I can do when I'm present.

What Bunky and I can do when I’m present.

I just read Joan Didion’s wrenching memoir, Blue Nights, a follow up to her equally gutting and flawless, The Year of Magical Thinking. Spoiler alert – kind of, while the first book is about the sudden death of her husband and the illness of her daughter, the second is about her daughter’s death and Didion’s own mortality. She spends much of the book in the past, exploring and dissecting memories of her daughter, Quintana. Part of her wonder and pain revolves around how much time she spent working (i.e. writing) during her daughter’s young life. It’s not so much about regret, but about lost chances. The lost chances of not having been as present as she might have liked for her daughter. Here’s a quote from the book that struck me (italics are hers):

Brush your teeth, brush your hair, shush I’m working.

I get it. I do it. I want to think about my writing, I want to jot down some notes. And sometimes I do. But often at a cost.

What a tug of war us mothers go through.

All this aside, what about the word? I considered perseverance, which is something I will need to finish the edit of my novel and keep writing. But again, no. Too cumbersome, too bulky in the mouth, in my mind. I know, I’m nuts. It’s an English major thing.

Then while helping Little Guy go down for a nap, a time when I’m alone with my thoughts (unless I reach for my cell phone) I figured it out.

open

I imagined what my word should look like, and I saw myself standing with my arms wide open, reaching as if to embrace my children, reaching for the sky. I want to be open to being a present mother, to being a present writer, open to all the possibilities of life.

What do you think your word might be? What does it look like to you?