• Memoirs

    How Do I Write My Memoirs?

      Are you stuck trying to write your life story? By the time we become seniors, most of us have come to the realization that we’ve left it too late. We think we’d like to write our memoirs, but we never got around to asking our parents the important questions: How did they meet? Who was their first love? How did they become the people they ended up being?   How Did I Get Here? Then there are the questions about our own history: What was I like as a toddler? Who was my best friend in kindergarten? Where did my first pet come from? What was my first word,…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Essay Series — Blog Post

    Part Five — How to Write a Blog Post 1. Why write a blog? — Your Purpose Your purpose informs and directs everything you write, from the material you include, to your style, voice and content.   Once you figure out WHY you want to write it, you’ll be well on the way to knowing what you want to write about. Your Purpose is a through-line that ties everything together, giving you a roadmap which lets you see what fits and what doesn’t.  But as long as you’re missing this key ingredient of Purpose, your blog will continue to be disjointed, scattered and lacking in cohesion.   Defining your Purpose…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Essay Series – Personal Essay

    The personal essay is an autobiographical narrative or story relating a significant personal experience that shaped or changed the writer. A good one can inspire readers and move them to ask questions or take action.   The purpose of a personal essay is to introduce the writer to readers. It presents the writer as a personality, a character in a factually accurate narrative. Personal essays entertain and engage the reader with attention to literary style and technique. They’re based on truth, and they illustrate the writer’s outlook through the use of personal experiences and conclusions. Readers want to know and understand who the writer really is, not just the events that…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Essay Series – Informal Essay

    Part Three — The  Informal Essay The informal essay is characterized by the personal element — self-revelation, individual tastes and experiences, confidential manner, humour, graceful style, rambling structure, unconventionality or novelty. Its main departure from formal essays is its use of personal pronouns, using inclusive references to I, we, or you, where a formal essay tends to be more distanced and remote. In informal writing, we create a direct contact between ourselves and the reader.    Informal essays are much more personal than the formal essay. Informal essays mean we can express our personal opinion rather than simply presenting the facts. We’ll still include some facts, but we’ll be offering our…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Essay Series – Formal Essay

    Part Two — The Formal Essay For the month of July, we’re concentrating on a series about creating short pieces that engage and impact the reader. Last week we covered the Implied Contract between writer and reader and how it determines what we write.    This week, we’ll dive a little deeper into how to write them.   What is an Essay?   The structural basis of effective short pieces is the essay. In school, we learned the basics of essay writing, but in most cases, we couldn’t see the point of learning it. It wasn’t something we thought we’d ever use. But nowadays, everyone communicates online, so the more…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Essay Series – Implied Contract

    Part One — The Implied Contract Last year, I wrote a post on How to Focus a Blog Post, but since then, I’ve received a number of further questions, so it seems there are more answers to be explored.   For the month of July, I’ll be concentrating on a series about creating short pieces that engage and impact the reader. We’ll cover the implied contract between writer and reader and how it determines what you write, the essay structure and how it applies to short stories, personal memoirs and blog posts, and we’ll cover blog posts and the proper way to present an argument. We’ll go through a series…

  • Point of View and Character Development,  Thoughts, Opinions and Philosophical Discussions

    Karma and Character Development

    Karma’s a bitch!” We hear that all the time. Somebody does something good, they get good karma. Something bad happens to someone, it’s because they have bad karma. It’s justice, retribution and balancing the scales of right and wrong.   Right?   Wrong!   Karma is commonly understood to mean our actions, words or deeds and their outcomes. But I believe that this interpretation is specious. Karma’s more profound than that.   Believers in spirituality come a little closer. For them, karma refers to the spiritual circle of cause and effect, often called the “Principle of Karma”, wherein intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that…

  • Productivity,  Structure and Plotting

    What Were You Thinking???

    More often than not, when writers start writing about a subject, we have no clue what it is we plan to say.    “I write to find out what I think.” ― Stephen King   “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” — Joan Didion Sure, we can put together an outline that gives us a rough roadmap, but until we actually sit down and start the ideation process, we can’t possibly know what our thoughts are until we have them on the page or screen in front of us. Only…

  • Productivity

    Breaking the Procrastination Habit

    First, let’s see if we can figure out what procrastination is and why we do it. Where does it come from? What purpose does it serve?   Procrastination has been described as “a voluntary delay of an intended act despite the nagging awareness that we’ll pay for it later”.    Even though we know avoidance is a self-defeating coping mechanism, it feels better in the moment to turn our backs on what we know to be the right choice in favour of something that’s less emotionally challenging.   Procrastination and avoidance act as short-term mood improvements. They’re immediately gratifying. They allow us to escape the proposed task and its associated…

  • Uncategorized

    It’s the Little Things

    The Little Things — those happy little accidents that make our day, those niggling little worries that won’t leave us alone, those small accents that finish off an outfit to perfection.    Little things: mosquitoes, engagement rings, snowflakes, blisters.   But how important are they?   It’s the little things that give us such satisfaction when we’re coming to the end of a big project. All the big stuff is done and we can simply have fun with it. Editing to find exactly the right words, the perfect turn of phrase, or getting the final catchlight in the eye of a painted portrait just the right size, colour and shape.   And…

  • Uncategorized

    Writing Memoirs as Therapy

    One major difficulty we run into when we start writing our memoirs is an inability to face or process troubling emotions. When we write things down, naturally, we have to think about them, and most of us would prefer that they just go away. We try to avoid thinking about the painful, traumatic events in our lives, burying them deep down so that we won’t have to look at them.   But there’s a problem with this particular coping mechanism. These hidden traumas can come back on us in all kinds of unexpected ways. Inhibition or suppression of emotions, traumatic events, or aspects of our identity can result in long-term, low-level…