A week or so ago, I “finished” the first draft of a book I have been wanting to write for several years. It was a massive undertaking, and as with several other books that I have written before, part of the reason why I hadn’t written it before is because I was somewhat intimidated by … More When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough
I remember getting very discouraged as a beginning writer when I read, “You’re not a serious writer unless you write every day.” I understood where they were coming from. You had to make it a habit. You couldn’t just wait until you were inspired to write. But the reality was–like so many other writers and … More The Pros and Cons of Immersive Writing
I have a colleague here in the English department at the university where I teach, and early on in my efforts at writing novels I passed several of my books in front of him. No more. One time, I passed the first chapter in front of him and then asked him what he thought of … More Does Your Story Have a Soul?
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun.” –Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV. Pretty much every writer has been asked the question, “Where do you come up with your ideas?” And the answers range from the honest, “I have no idea,” to an explanation … More How to Come Up with an Original Idea
In my 21 years as a university professor, I’ve seen the same thing time and again. An exceptional student comes to college and is overwhelmed by all the extracurricular options available to him or her. I remember one particular journalism major. He was a Student Association officer, on the gymnastics team, on the elite choir, … More What are you willing to give up?
One of the bad–and good–things about teaching other people how to write is that you have to stop and think about the process yourself. I’ve been teaching writing as a professor now for about 20 years, and taught writing workshops before that, so I have a little practice. But even so, I find myself scratching … More How do I do this? I really don’t know.
This is graduation weekend, and this morning I sat on the stage, looking out on students I have been teaching (and trying to teach) for the past four years, as well as their parents. In addition, I am bumping into recent graduates who are here because younger siblings are finally getting their diplomas. Some are … More It’s Not About How Good You Are
One of the bits of wisdom I share with my students in my writing classes over the years is the fact that if you’re serious about being a writer, you never stop being a student. And that’s very, very true. My students look at me as the accomplished writer, but I don’t see myself that … More Forever a Teacher, Forever a Student
I had a journalism student–who shall remain nameless–quite a few years ago, who was a marginal student. He did just enough to get by. I found myself constantly having to push him to put enough effort into classes just to pass the class, and I worried about what his career would be like when he … More Something To Say
I was just out mowing my lawn in the early morning hours, trying to beat the Texas heat, when I heard Billy Joel sing his song, “Piano Man.” If you listen to the words, most of it is about people who wish they were doing something other than what they were doing. Henry David Thoreau … More If Not You, Then Who? If Not Now, Then When?