Every Day We Write the Books: Please, Contribute to My Tumblr

Every Day We Write the Books: Please, Contribute to My Tumblr

Writing

Selfies + Accountability

During the summer of 2013, I wanted to keep track of how many days I wrote. Like making a big fat X on a calendar. Except I don’t use a physical calendar anymore.

So I hit the Photo Booth icon on my Mac and took a quick picture, and it was saved by the date. Here’s one from May 17.

 

It’s how I kept myself accountable all summer. Sometimes I took a picture from the POV of my computer, sometimes from my POV looking at my computer.

June 22, 2013

I used to use 750words.com a lot. I liked sharing that a writing session had taken place, similar to how I can share an exercise session has taken place on MapMyRun. I liked that all my friends were using 750words. It felt like we were all in it together.

So at the end of the summer, I made a Tumblr that anyone can contribute to. It’s called Every Day I Write the Book.

Perhaps you think sharing info like this is bragging or narcissistic?

Well, screw you. This is for the rest of us.

This isn’t like Selfies at Funerals or Selfies at Serious Places.

This is like, Hey look at all these people who are writing! 

Writing Accountability Tools

There are many ways to hold yourself accountable as a writer.

I have many writer friends who post weekly or daily updates on FB about how many words they’ve written. Personally, I like getting this information. It keeps me motivated, and they do it, I imagine, because it makes them accountable.

But yeah, I know, it gets to be too much sometimes.

Selfies

Then there’s the fact that this Tumblr is about WRITING ACCOUNTABILITY and SELFIES. At the same time!

I don’t do selfies much. I have complicated feelings about them.

I like sharing. I like offering support. I like seeing what people are wearing or that they’ve lost weight or that they’re happy or that they’ve developed a six pack or that they like their new haircut. Yay!

But yeah, I know it on the other hand, it all feels like too much sometimes.

The rules

Every time you sit down to work on your book, take a pic. Of yourself or where you’re sitting.

Keep it clean.

Be real. No sprucing or preening.

Don’t show off.

Use this to keep yourself accountable and motivated.

Submit here.

[Let’s see if this works…and how it works.]

Do the Math: Part 2

Higher Ed

Last week, I talked about “doing the math” (and by extension time management) here at The Big Thing. This powerpoint contained a slide that got my attention.

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 8.30.56 PM

I use Google Calendar to schedule meetings and appointments, but not writing time, teaching time, etc. I don’t compartmentalize my day that way–although maybe I should. My novel writing students and I were talking about time–how there’s never enough time to work on novels–so I showed them the picture and said, “C’mon. Let’s log in how we spend our time for one week.”

I went first.

How do I spend my time? I was already asking myself that question a lot because my P&T document and materials were due this past Friday.

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Teaching Tuesday: Requiring Students to Blog about the Class

Teaching Tuesday: Requiring Students to Blog about the Class

Teaching

This semester, I’m teaching a grad course on the linked stories form and an undergraduate course on the novel form.

These past two weeks, in both classes, we’ve been talking about subplots, layers, and throughlines.

My students have been doing an excellent job of sharing their notes on our course blogs.

Each week, I select one student to be our class “scribe.” They turn their notes from class (lecture + discussion + personal anecdotes/flavor) into a class “report.”

And I grade it.

Here are a few samples.

What I’ve learned

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Book Reviewing in the Social Media Age: or, What if Mark Richard and I Had Been Facebook Friends?

Book Reviewing in the Social Media Age: or, What if Mark Richard and I Had Been Facebook Friends?

Literary Citizenship Teaching Writing

Here’s a question: What if I’d become a writer after–not before–social media? If you’re my age, do you ask yourself this question as often as I do?

Mark Richard was one of a handful of writers who made an enormous impression on me early in my apprenticeship. (I’d use Andre Dubus here, but he’s deceased, much to my sorrow.)

What if, after reading Mark Richard’s story “Strays” in Best American Short Stories 1989, I’d friended or followed him? Continue reading

Bringing New York Publishing to Muncie, Indiana

Literary Citizenship Teaching
This is the table where BSU Board of Trustees meets. It's kind of awesome.
This is the table where BSU Board of Trustees meets. It’s kind of awesome.

Thanks to a grant from the Discovery Group, I’ve hired 11 Ball State students for internships at this summer’s Midwest Writers Workshop.

I’ve told you before about this conference, but here it is again.

Some backstory

Ever since I arrived at Ball State in 2010, I’ve been trying to come up with a way to expose students to the benefits of this conference.   MWW is run by a group of dedicated volunteers. It’s not funded by Ball State University; it just happens to take place on campus. One day, I was talking about this to BSU professor Beth Turcotte (who knows everything about how to find the resources to make amazing things happen) and she recommended I look into the Discovery grant, and boom, I applied. In December, I found out I was a finalist and made a presentation to the members, and in February, I found out I’d been funded. I quickly put out a call for applications, and by April, I’d assembled my team.  Continue reading

The Next Thing: Professionalization in Creative Writing

CW Programs Literary Citizenship Teaching

Careers (job search)Not every Creative Writing major wants to go to grad school, and to be honest, I’m not even sure if most of them want to be published writers. What brings them to our classes, I think, is a desire to be connected to the world of books. This essay by Dean Bakopoulos speaks to that desire.

Creative writing isn’t a pre-professional discipline. We’re not like some academic majors which prepare students for a concrete, discernible “next thing,” such as graduate study, this job, that career path. When my students say, “What I can do with this degree?” I talk about “transferable skills.” I point them in the direction of the career center. Continue reading

How to Talk to Writers

How to Talk to Writers

Literary Citizenship Teaching Writing

A key principle of literary citizenship is that writers should build their community and expand their circles.

Not “network.” Not “schmooze.”

In her book Living a Literary LifeCarolyn See advises writers to send one “charming note” a day to someone in the publishing field—a writer, editor, publisher, etc. The point isn’t to ask for anything, but rather to just make a connection. These days, thanks to social media, it’s never been so easy to make those kinds of connections.

I require my Literary Citizenship students to friend or follow or email someone five times a week. Friending on Facebook, liking an Author Page, following on Twitter: these are “passive” acts. But at least once a week, they’re supposed to actually say something to somebody. Such as “I enjoy your work,” or “You published one of my favorite books,” etc.

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On Being Findable

Literary Citizenship Writing

My husband and I have started a little website business, of sorts. We’re not looking to build or expand, mind you. We have one client, my yoga teacher/massage therapist. I’ll call her Violet. She runs a studio out of her lovely historic home. I go there a few times a week and do yoga in her dining room and get acupressure massages in a little room off the kitchen. Violet’s been doing this work for over 30 years, and working with her has made a big difference in my life.

The Findability of Violet

I only found Violet because a friend of mine, Nancy, introduced me. I would never have found Violet on my own. There would have been no way to find her.

From the image search “Yoga Muncie”

See, I knew Nancy did yoga, but I didn’t know where. So I Googled “Yoga Muncie.” This made me very depressed.

Go ahead. Try it.

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20 answers to the question: “But what should I blog about?”

20 answers to the question: “But what should I blog about?”

Teaching The Biggest Things

Relax. Don’t try so hard.

If you focus on the stuff that matters to you, everything else will fall into place: finding readers, an audience, your tribe.
 
Pay attention to what you Tweet and share on Facebook.

Maybe that’s the material you should be blogging about. Every time you share an article or tweet or retweet a link, you’re microblogging. Why not blog-blog it? Take a few extra minutes and say something about that link and you’ve got a blog post.
 
I was on Facebook for a few years before I started blogging. I thought, What the hell do I have to blog about? After about a year or so on Facebook, I found that most of my friends were other writer/teachers. People I worked with. People I’d gone to school with. People the people I worked with had gone to school with. 
 
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