Kate Harris has won the 2019 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize (Nonfiction) for her debut memoir, Lands of Lost Borders. Of Lands of Lost Borders, judge Michael Harris said, Continue reading “Kate Harris wins the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize”
In their classic book on making art (or avoiding the process), Art & Fear, David Bayles and Ted Orland outline the merits of using your work as a litmus test for your commitment:
Look at your work and it tells you how it is when you hold back or when you embrace. When you are lazy, your art is lazy; when you hold back, it holds back; when you hesitate, it stands there staring, hands in its pockets. But when you commit, it comes on like blazes.
How are you holding back or embracing your work at the moment? How can you increase your commitment to your project, or accept that you’re flogging a dead horse?
Humans tend to favour analogical reasoning—we regularly look for the similarities between two or more unlike things or systems (compare reasoning from first principles). But when is relying on analogy a problem, and does doing so prevent us from living in the moment and engaging deeply with our writing?
In Rob Walker’s new book, which is full of strategies for paying attention, he quotes the poet Marie Howe: “It hurts to be present.” He explains that line more fully in a recent episode of Hurry Slowly, when he refers to making “metaphor-free observations.”
Rob believes that inexperienced writers use metaphor as “a distancing act.” But, he says,
to be truly present requires punching through these kinds of distancing techniques that we use as a matter of course, and be really in touch with what’s actually there.
We know that being present (or mindful) can result in more happiness, connection, innovation, and productivity. But being present is not always easy, and can expose us to uncomfortable truths—that’s why it hurts. Continue reading “It hurts to be present”
You feel like you should finish your book—you’ve already sunk so much time and energy into it.
But your old techniques for productivity aren’t working anymore.
Your story isn’t going anywhere—no purpose, no horizon.
And you hate your manuscript. Like, really, truly, loathe it. Continue reading “When the horse dies, get off”
I’m absolutely thrilled for music therapist Jennifer Buchanan. Her latest book, Wellness Incorporated: The Health Entrepreneur’s Handbook, won first place in the business category at the 2019 Next Generation Book Awards and 2019 New York Book Festival, and was the Runner-Up in the 2019 San Francisco Book Festival.
I edited this book for Page Two.
Bob Joseph‘s new book, Indigenous Relations, debuted on several bestseller lists (CBC, Toronto Star, and the Globe and Mail) alongside his 2018 release, 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act.
Check out Page Two’s post on how Bob has dominated bestseller lists since April 2018.
I project-managed 21 Things and edited Indigenous Relations for Page Two.
Michael Pollan gives a masterclass in selecting a narrative voice in the most recent episode of the Longform podcast.
You have to reconstruct your first person [narrative] every book…. Your personality has so many elements, and you don’t use all of them. You pick a few…. Some facts about you are irrelevant to that story…. You have to take out of the whole grab bag of what you are….and you cobble together a first person that consists of several of them…. They’re all true, but you get to choose…. Are you going to write in the first person or not? … Which first person?
One of the biggest takeaways I had from my yoga teacher training at Ahimsa Yoga Centre in Toronto was not strictly about postures or breathing.
My teacher, J-P Tamblyn-Sabo, saw us all working so hard, really much harder than we needed to. When you’re straining in a pose, you’re not breathing, and you’re inhibiting flexibility in mind and body. There’s no joy, no movement, no progress. Continue reading “The sweet spot”
- Take your work seriously.
- Don’t take yourself seriously.
- Set a deadline and stick to it—don’t project-manage yourself into procrastination.
- Make a list of resources to consult and small tasks to complete—create a checklist and work through it.
- Block off time—it’s yours to block off.
- Get a writing buddy or join a writing group—accountability drives productivity.
- Read more—all the time, read everything.
- Carry a notebook at all times, use voice memos, email yourself, keep a Google doc open—you have resources at hand, use them.
- Count your words and pages every day—words are bricks, words build the foundation.
- Visualize the full page, not the full manuscript—a castle without a foundation will crumble.
In a recent post on his wonderful blog, Austin Kleon quoted Brian Eno on why he decided to stop touring. As part of his explanation for staying put, Eno describes his creative process as “Import and Export,” which I think is the clearest way of explaining what writers, musicians, and artists of all types do. Continue reading “Writers are in the import/export business”