Nancy: Writing Around the Web

Sometimes when writers are neck-deep in our own ideas and stories, we turn to other fiction for a mental reboot. Other times, it’s non-fiction, perhaps craft books. For the past week, I’ve been thumbing through Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story and Story Genius as I continue developing a novel with her brain science technique. For fun, I’ve been reading Stephon Alexander’s The Jazz of Physics. (Yes, that really is what passes for fun in my world.)

When I need a quicker fix, a quick shot of creative inspiration, or just a boost in the will to go on (because some writing days are just So. Damn. Hard.), I like to visit some familiar haunts on the web. A few posts have really struck a chord with me these past few weeks. If you feel yourself needing a boost, check out these articles for yourself, and poke around these sites – there’s so much good stuff to discover!

Arghink. This is the blog of Jennifer Crusie, mentor of the 8LW crew. Jenny’s blog is always chock full of great information, fun, and community, but recently, she’s also been sharing early drafts and revisions of her WIP. And it is as amazing as it sounds. Ever the teacher, Jenny is also sharing the way she approaches revisions. In a recent post about pacing, she discussed how using math (the easy kind!) can help you make sure each scene and act gets tighter and faster, picking up pace to keep the story moving and the reader engaged.

Writer Unboxed. This site started out as a small community founded by writers Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton, and has grown into a large community of authors, editors, agents, and writing coaches/teachers. Two of my favorite contributors on the blog are Lisa Cron and Donald Maass, who always bring illuminating discussions to the table. Don didn’t disappoint in his recent post, Casting a Spell, that talked about something near and dear and terror-inducing to every author’s heart: the monumentally important/beloved/dreaded opening to a novel. While you’re there, you might also want to check out his post on being profound, and check out the other great contributors and topics as well.

Terribleminds. Chuck Wendig is the purveyor of this particular site. Nuff said. But in case you’re not familiar with Chuck, his writing, and his generous and oh-so-hilarious writing advice, let me assure you – you will want to take some time to mine the gems from this site. Sometimes, Chuck gets political. As I personally agree with his politics and adore his way with all the words (including the naughty ones), I highly enjoy these posts. I’d like to think that even those who disagree would find his voice engaging and his arguments cogent and therefore might pause a moment to hear what he has to say. One of his recent posts pled the case for resurrecting and respecting expertise, which far too often these days is superseded by feelings and opinions. As Chuck might say, please to enjoy.

How to Write a Book. I learned about author and book coach Jennie Nash through the exercises she contributed to Lisa Cron’s Story Genius book. Since then, I’ve joined her newsletter and followed her blog, which is a big deal for me, as I rarely add a new blogger to my ‘must-read’ list these days. Jennie is currently doing a series of posts about pitching to agents and editors. In the interest of full disclosure, please note that Jennie does offer a paid course on this and many other topics. But she also shares lots of free information with writers, and I found her first post about the pitch  really helpful.

The Creative Penn. If you are thinking about self-publishing now or contemplating the possibility at any point in the future, then surely you regularly check out Joanna Penn’s website. If not, you should remedy this immediately. In addition to being a highly successful self-published author, Joanna participates in blogs and podcasts and a wide variety of media to spread information to self-publishing authors far and wide. Joanna also provides for-fee services, and in fact her website feels much more market-y than other other author’s that comes to my mind. But I pop over there and listen to a podcast or two on a regular basis, because there is just so much you can learn there. Following the link in this article, you can listen to a presentation Joanna gave at the London Book Fair about making more money with self-published books.

If you have a little more time and want to watch some amazing storytellers sharing their versions of the secret sauce of writing, Ted Talks has you covered. You can watch Lisa Cron talking about how the human brain is wired for story. Or JJ Abrams discussing the mystery box. Or Ngozi Adichie talking about cultural diversity in reading and writing. Any one of these will cure what ails you on even the worst writing day. In fact, on your next tough day, I recommend you set aside an hour and watch all three. Your writer’s brain will thank you!

Next week, I’ll be returning to fiction to recharge my creative batteries. Next up is Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Yes, it has been out for years. Yes, it’s been recommended to me many times. But with a series based on the book coming out on Starz at the end of April, it’s finally time for me to catch up with the rest of the world. What’s on your reading agenda this week? Any favorite rabbit holes websites to share with the group?

4 thoughts on “Nancy: Writing Around the Web

  1. Oh! I need to find American Gods and An-something Boys, and re-read them! (Good lord, every time I visit here, I’m adding more books to my re-read list! I still haven’t read my Book of the Week.)

    I know about half of these websites, and they are great, so I’ll try the others. I like Pat Wrede’s blog on writing, although I haven’t visited in quite awhile. I also love getting inspiration from Two Nerdy History Girls — we read Loretta Chase’s The Lord of Scoundrels in class (-:.

    I also like dipping into the Atlantic’s By Heart series of interviews with writers. I love the insights I’ve gained. I’m not sure, but it looks like they’ve discontinued the series as of December 2017, and are now doing poetry. (For the poetry, try here: )

    I feel like I’m forgetting something that I often visit . . . . Oh well, if it comes to me, I’ll mention it.

    • Ooh, those sound great! More things for me to check out :-). I bought a book with American Gods and Anansi Boys both in it so I can read them back to back, maybe starting this weekend. Or maybe sooner, if I can finish the first draft of act I of the book I’m not yet writing (now I’m channeling Jenny – I am not writing this book that I’m obviously writing), I can then have a reward of a podcast and a few chapters.

  2. I’m familiar with some of these sites, but not all, and now I’ve bookmarked them. Sometimes a person just needs some inspiration!

    I checked my “Blogs for Writers” folder to see what I could find to add to this discussion, and to my amusement, the first web site in there is “Compare Pork.” And they’re not talking about slang terms for male genitalia; they’re talking how many grams of fat and protein in, say, a pork chop as compared to, say, a chicken thigh. I wonder what I thought I could do with that?

    Kristine Kathryn Rusch is a writer who also has a big section on her web site about the business of publishing.

    And I was just going to suggest StoryWonk, but I see the sad news that Alastair and Lani are divorcing and everything is in flux. On the upside, looks like they’re each going independent, and all the old podcasts and other stuff will continue to be available.

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