Thursday, November 24, 2011

Poets & Writers Magazine - Well Established and Still Relevant!

Since my last post was over a really new writing site, I thought it would be nice in this post to talk about one that has been around for years. Poets & Writers Magazine was established in 1970 and is "the nation's largest nonprofit organization serving creative writers" ( Their Tools for Writers section has everything from grants and awards that are available to writing prompts for the budding writer. They also provide a community where you can connect with other writers including a directory of poets and writers with information on upcoming events. This is a site that I have returned to time and again for the good variety of information and assistance that they provide.

May the words flow onto your page like water in a bubbling brook! :-)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Writing for Wellness

I write poetry, Toby. That's how I enter the world.
Tabitha Fortis, "The U.S. Poet Laureate," The West Wing, Season 3 Episode 17

Almost a decade has passed since I first watched that episode, and those words still resonate with me. Writing is how I enter the world. And it's not just me. Many people process emotions and events in their lives by writing poetry, journaling, composing sent or unsent letters, and even writing fiction. In fact, Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club, acknowledges that she turned to writing fiction as a form of therapy. You can also see the growing importance of writing as a form of therapy or self-healing with the publication of books like Creative Writing in Health and Social Care; Pain and Possibility: Writing Your Way Through Personal Crisis; Writing for Emotional Balance; The Write Way to Wellness; and many, many more. In fact, Managing Stress: Principles and Strengths for Health and Well-Being, is used in some health education settings and devotes a whole chapter to journaling as a technique for dealing with stress.

Just as journaling can be a dialogue with the self so too can creative writing or fiction. William Stafford, the author of more than sixty-five books and winner of the National Book Award, said in an interview in Master Class: Lessons from Leading Writers, "I'd like to go all out on this and confront as squarely as possible those who make students feel that writing is something done with the fully conscious, already accomplished self. I think writing is itself educational, exploratory, and worthy of trust while you're doing it." 

Not only do I like that quote for acknowledging writing as a way to explore the self, I think it is a particularly useful quote for NaNoWriMo. Many of the writers attempting NaNoWriMo have already written pages of plotting and character background. If that works for you, excellent.  However, for those writers who are unsure of the direction of their novel, who don't know where their characters were born or what their middle names are, I would say that by writing not only will you learn this information, but you will likely learn something about yourself along the way.

Learning about yourself through writing as well as nurturing yourself are themes explored in The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.  The Artist's Way uses morning pages as one tool to nurture creativity. Morning pages are three pages of long-hand writing each morning. These pages are stream-of-consciousness and there is no right or wrong way to do them. They simply allow the artist/writer to vent or empty out much of the negativity and worries that block our creative energy. Most people are surprised to discover how much inner criticism they tell themselves. Morning pages allow people to deal with the criticism, fears, and worries and then move on. Another tool used by The Artist's Way is called the artist date and consists of taking time to nurture your creative self. You do this by actually making a date and spending time with yourself doing fun and/or creative things. It is a method of connecting with the inner child as well as becoming mindful.

David Richo, author of Being True to Life:Poetic Paths to Personal Growth, says:

Composing poetry is both a psychological and spiritual event, because the requirements for writing a poem are like those of psychological and spiritual progress. We must learn to live in the moment. We see them in new ways and focus on what is significant….In using poetry as a tool for growth and healing, we write in our own way and on any theme. We do not have to write perfectly or for publication (2).

As you are writing madly through the month of November and trying to make your word count, be mindful. Pay attention to what your writing is trying to tell you. That may be the most important story of all.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Help Us Select a New Tagline!

The Department of Health Studies is seeking a new tagline to help people better understand what we do. We hope you will check out some of the ideas that our very own students and faculty have come up and help us narrow it down by voting for the one you like best. The survey is in the left hand corner of the main page.

Please Note: The final decision on the tagline rests with a committee and may be modified.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

LitReactor - A New Site for Writers and Readers

Hello again everyone in Nano land! For this post I thought I would introduce one of my favorite new sites. LitReactor is actually very new and was developed as a spin-off of The Cult, a site that included a writer's workshop by Chuck Palahniuk. While the Writers Workshop area requires a membership, the Magazine area has frequent posts on different areas of the writing craft like this one on creating characters and this one on narrative structure In addition, you can always find many interesting posts around books and reading, and the Community area offers a chance to discuss books and writing with others who share the same interests.

Keep working on those novels, everyone! :-)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNoWriMo Mid-month Check In

We are halfway through National Novel Writing Month. Yay! Pat yourself on your back that you have survived this far. I myself have experienced the woes and joys as well as craziness of NaNoWriMo. I have been behind on my word count most days until this last weekend when I went all out and caught up. That euphoria was short lived as the next night (Monday) I promptly fell behind and am behind right now. In my writing craziness I have resorted to trips to Starbucks for lattes, cappucinnos, and even espressos! I say that with amazement because, for the most part, I am not only a tea drinker, but a green tea drinker. One night I even busted into my husband’s stash of chocolate expresso beans. Boy, did I write then. Of course, if I were to dare reread that section it is entirely possible that it is complete gibberish, which is I why I refuse to go back and read it. There is time enough for that later on December 2nd when I have woken up from sleeping 24 hours straight…ha, ha.

I’d like to invite you to share your stories here in the comments. How are you doing? Have you forgotten to feed your dog? Do you long to watch TV until you drool? Have you been reduced to using five adjectives or more to describe everything in order to meet your word count? I will admit that I have tossed in a war, psychological problems, spirits, and country music in an attempt to meet my word count. Who knows, I might even toss in the kitchen sink! So take a break and let us know you are alive by posting in the comments!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Time Management Tips

Hello fellow NaNoWriMo writers! Since at this point we may all be feeling like we may have bitten off a little more than we could chew, I thought it would be a good time to share some links to tips on time management.

This site - - is especially for college students and has 57 different tips - although, you may have to plan how to manage your time just to read through all of them! However, the top two tips that I think are important for this month are probably #34 Avoid Over-Commitment and #57 Set Boundaries. Remember that we all have to prioritize our lives and schoolwork will most likely come before NaNo writing! So, don't be afraid to adjust your goals if you need to!

Here is another good link by the Mayo Clinic staff that has just a few, basic tips that we all can benefit from -  My favorite is the one about getting plenty of sleep. I need to be refreshed every day so I can pump out those words on my computer! :-)

Remember, balance is the key my Nano friends!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Paris Review - Interview with Julian Barnes

One of my favorite writer's resources is The Paris Review, where I found an interview with this year's Man Booker Prize winner, Julian Barnes -

In reading this interview, I found the discussion on truth in fiction to be especially interesting. In particular, I liked the quote from Barnes that states "when you are writing fiction your task is to reflect the fullest complications of the world, to say things that are not as straightforward as might be understood from reading my journalism and to produce something that you hope will reveal further layers of truth on a second reading." I am a rereader myself and am always amazed at how some of the best literature can have so many different meanings when read at different times of my life. And, I too would pick Flaubert's Madame Bovary as one of my favorite books, and one which I recently had the pleasure of rereading.

If you enjoy this interview, you should definitely check out the archives, which go back to the 1950s -

Happy writing! :-)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Advising Tip - Course Rotation

Advising Tip: Always be sure to check the most recent course rotation schedule before advising. Remember the course rotation is what the department ANTICIPATES offering. However, the rotation can sometimes change depending on circumstances beyond departmental control.

Monday, November 7, 2011


If you are to have any hope of surviving National Novel Writing Month, you will need to set priorities. Also, you will need copious amounts of caffeine, an understanding spouse or significant other, and possibly a unicorn. But today, I will talk to you about the big P.
At first glance, it seems like setting priorities are extremely easy, right? Especially if your priorities are rewatching the Harry Potter movies, reading obscure (or not so obscure) science fiction, and trying to invent new candies.  Certainly author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey makes it sound fairly easy.

However, we know that isn't always the case. Still, Covey makes a good point about taking the time to think about what is really important to YOU. We can't prioritize if we don't know what is really important. So your first step is figuring out what is most important to you. You might try ranking them to help you. Here is an example from my own life of some things that are important to me:

  • Completing NaNoWriMo
  • Spending time with my family
  • Spending time with friends
  • Exercising
  • Working on my Toastmasters' goals
  • Doing well at work
  • Reading fiction
For this month, writing is very important to me, but how does it stack up against the others? Well, even though I want to complete NaNoWriMo that still doesn't trump wanting to do well at work as that is what keeps food on the table. However, for one month I am willing to put my Toastmasters's goals on hold and spend less time with my family and friends (In fact, I told most of my friends they wouldn't hear from me again till December.). Here is how I would rank my priorities this month:
  1. Doing well at work
  2. Completing NaNoWriMo
  3. Exercising
  4. Spending time with family 
  5. Reading fiction
  6. Spending time with friends
  7. Working on my Toastmasters' goals
Next month, it might look more like this:

  1. Doing well at work
  2. Spending time with family 
  3. Exercising
  4. Spending time with friends
  5. Working on my Toastmasters' goals
  6. Writing
  7. Reading fiction 
Your priorities will be different and there are a number of systems you can use to help you prioritize. You can start by reading some of the articles below. However, you need to find the one that works best for you and in the end, you are the one who needs to decide what is really important to you.


How to Prioritize Yourself AND Be More Effective in Your Life

Books to Consider:

First Things First
7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long
Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Writer's Digest - Competitions!

Hello fellow writers! To help celebrate NaNoWriMo, I thought that I would provide a few links to some of my favorite "writerly" sources online. First up is  Writer's Digest. The focus here is on helping new authors work on their craft and get published. So, if you are looking for a contest to enter, this is the place to go:

However, they also have tons of articles on writing and you can access them in a variety of ways, such as by genre, goal, or writing level, as well as several blogs by the editors all focused on different aspects of writing and getting published. There is an Education area where you can register for writing courses (for a fee). And, they have links to a variety of writing resources, like the Writer's Market.

A recent blog post by one of the editors, Brian A. Klems, directly addresses "How to Prepare for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)" and you can check out his advice here:

Best wishes in your Nano writing adventure! :-)