The 7 habits of highly effective writers

7 habits

This post first appeared on Oct. 23, 2007. Reading time: less than 2 minutes I've noticed that effective writers tend to share seven traits. So, with apologies to Stephen Covey (pictured above), here is my own list of 7 habits worth adopting. Have you ever wondered why some people write easily and fluently, while others struggle and strain as if trying to squeeze a 185-lb body into a siz... Read More

Gone fishin’

It’s August and I’m taking off most of the month — although I will check in online from time to time and I’m still monitoring email once a day. I’ll be back behind my desk, refreshed and relaxed, on Tuesday, Aug. 29. And you'll see another column that day, too.... Read More

Three ways to beat the editing monster

This post first appeared on Sept. 15, 2009. Reading time: About 3 minutes There are two main types of writers in this world and here are three editing tips for each of them. A subscriber wrote to me recently with the alarming subject line "writing discipline" and told the following story: "I've been writing for years," she wrote, ". . . journaling, poetry, short stories. I even attem... Read More

Gone fishin’

It’s August and I’m taking off most of the month — although I will check in online from time to time and I’m still monitoring email once a day. I’ll be back behind my desk, refreshed and relaxed, on Tuesday, Aug. 29. My regular Tuesday post will still appear on Aug. 23. Happy summer!... Read More

What canoeing taught me about writing

canoeing

This post first appeared on Aug. 17, 2010. Reading time: About 3 minutes It's summer -- and what could be better than paddling a canoe? My own paddling also made me reflect on some important rules about writing... Our summer was late getting started in Vancouver this year but it's been flawless. Maybe even a little too "flawless" for those who don't like hot weather. It hit 92 degrees (33... Read More

10 ways to develop the writing habit

how to develop the writing habit

Reading time: Just over 3 minutes Do you want to learn how to develop the writing habit? It’s not as hard as you might have feared… The hardest part about writing is not the work of stringing a sentence together – it’s the commitment it requires, day after relentless day. If you want to build a writing habit, here’s how to go about it: When people start a new habit they often ... Read More

A trick for dealing with lack of motivation

lack of motivation

Reading time: Less than 1 minute If you're dealing with a lack of motivation, most people will tell you to start small or create a more supportive environment. Derek Sivers doesn't do that, however... What do you do when you're feeling extremely unmotivated? Watch TV? Surf Facebook? Eat a bag of Oreo cookies? Entrepreneur and professional musician Derek Sivers — who rose to fame creati... Read More

The figurative language of Emma Cline…

Emma Cline

Reading time: Just over 1 minute I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of metaphors and similes from Emma Cline... When I was young I had a stronger stomach for grisly novels. I read Truman Capote's In Cold Blood (and loved it) as an 18-year-old, and, a few years later, Helter Skelter, the true crime story of the... Read More

What does ‘blowsily’ mean?

blowsily

Reading time: Less than 1 minute Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That's why I provide a word of the week. Today's word: blowsily... I've always enjoyed the word blowsy and assumed it referred to a messy, gregarious woman with unkempt hair. But when I encountered it in the very fine novel The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith, I finall... Read More

How to work alone

how to work alone

Reading time: Just over 3 minutes Do you struggle with being alone? If you’re a writer, it's essential to learn how to work alone... I enjoy meeting people. I’m cheerful and friendly. I love chatting with friends. I never fear speaking in front of an audience. These are all characteristics of an extrovert. But, but…. If I’m tired or stressed or worn out, I want to be alone.... Read More