Adoptee, writer: how adoption can shape a creative life

I had an epiphany when I answered this question on Yahoo Answers recently: “Did you feel selfish meeting your birth parents?” I was surprised that my answer was chosen as the best, but I was thrilled that the question was posed in the first place. People don’t ask enough questions about adoption; it’s incredulous to me that in this day and age there is still a shroud of mystery around it. Adoption is one of the last taboos, spoken of with the same hushed tone that people used to reserve for cancer. How can we clarify, educate and share the experience if no one asks the big questions?

I’ve been working Continue reading “Adoptee, writer: how adoption can shape a creative life”

6 stages of the writing process for business and fiction

Recently I had the pleasure of watching a really smart, motivated guy I’ll call Sam put together a presentation  from scratch in a matter of days. I was there from the beginning to end, coaching him on, suggesting new directions and edits, watching as he shaped and crafted the content from a rough outline to a finished, polished presentation.

It occurred to me that this process was much like–no, exactly like–the fiction writer’s process. I am usually so enmeshed in the writing process myself that I forget what it’s like to look at it from the outside in. But the similarity of the writing process for business and fiction is uncanny. See if you recognize these six stages of the writing process:

STAGE 1: The Creative Spark. For Sam, it started with an email that consisted of the basic idea and eight bullet points. He was pumped! Confident he could complete the presentation in two weeks, he requested that we move thedelivery date up. Thankfully, we talked him out of that. Because once the initial excitement of the spark wears off, stage 2 sets in.

STAGE 2: Writing the First Draft. One week later, three of us gathered together impromptu to see Sam’s first draft. It’s important to note that we kept this group small and selective. First drafts are sacred and too much Continue reading “6 stages of the writing process for business and fiction”

10 painless ways to find time to write

You’re too busy to get to your creative work? Yeah, don’t even go there, I’ve heard it all before. From myself! That’s why I’ve come up with 10 relatively painless ways to make time for your creative work:

1. Give up 1 hour of TV. I know it’s hard; that’s why I didn’t say “Give up 1 hour of TV every day.” Just try one hour today–turn off the TV, go to your creative space and work. See how you feel afterwards. You might even work longer than an hour. Now try it again tomorrow.

2. Sit in your creative work space. Yep, just go there and sit. Don’t pay bills there. Don’t wrap gifts there. Whether your space is in a closet or the spare bedroom or your dining room table, go there and sit with your creative tools–notebook, pens, paints, whatever you need. You don’t have to write. But you will. Sit there for 30 minutes. Eventually you’ll get bored and write.

3. Listen to music that moves you. Just like actors need prompts to help them get into the right mood for a scene, writers need that too. Let Continue reading “10 painless ways to find time to write”

What does an MFA get you? You might be surprised.

When I first announced to family and friends in 1996 that I was going to graduate school to earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing, reactions were mixed. OK, people thought I was nuts. They said things like, “But isn’t writing something you either know how to do or you don’t?” and “What does creative writing have to do with marketing?” and my personal favorite, “What the hell will that get you?”

I didn’t care. I was going to immerse myself in learning my craft. I wanted to be a better creative writer for my fiction and a better marketing copywriter. I wanted to train like Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill” and be a kick-ass warrior writer who could whip out a shiny pen and people would step back in awe and respect.

Truth? I’m no Uma Thurman. But going to grad school for my MFA was the best six and a half years of my life. I focused exclusively on Continue reading “What does an MFA get you? You might be surprised.”