Chicago Writers Association Blog
Chicago Writers Association Blog

September 14, 2021

How Many Drafts are Enough?

by Samantha Hoffman

When asked in a 1992 interview for The Paris Review, "How many drafts do you go through in writing a story?" Grace Paley said, "I don’t like to count. I never understand what people mean when they say they’ve done twenty drafts or something. Does that mean they’ve typed it twenty times, or what? I’m always changing things as I go. It’s always substantially different by the time I’ve…

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September 7, 2021

Be Kind to your Perfectionism

Excerpted from interview with Margaret Ghielmetti on ThriveGlobal with thanks to Arianna Huffington, Yitzi Weiner, Tallulah Films (Karina Michel Feld.)

What exactly is a perfectionist?

MG: For me, perfectionism means zero tolerance for gray areas — in myself. I don’t mind if…

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August 31, 2021

What Dickens Can Teach Us About Complex Characters

by K.M. Weiland

Previously published by Helping Writers Become Authors

In Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens' final completed novel, he presents for us one of his most comprehensive and well-rounded tales. Herein is all the darkness of Hard Times, the cynicism of Martin Chuzzlewit, but also the optimism and hopefulness of David…

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August 24, 2021

Want to be a Successful Author? 10 Things English Majors Have to Unlearn

by Anne R. Allen

posted by Anne R. Allen (@annerallen) May 1, 2011

One of my favorite moments in film happens in Star Trek IV, when the Enterprise crew find themselves back the 20th century. Kirk refers to “the complete works of Jacqueline Susann, the novels of Harold Robbins,” and Spock replies, “Ah……

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August 17, 2021

Why Writers Belong on Instagram

By Maggie Smith

I can read your mind. Oh, no, not another social media platform I have to learn. Spare me.

Hold that thought while I share a few facts from the Pew Research Center. There are 500,000,000 users of Instagram (IG). That’s not five million. FIVE HUNDRED MILLION. And 300,000,000 of those…

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August 10, 2021

How to Legally Quote Song Lyrics in your Book

by Andre Calilhanna

This post was originally published in 2013 and was updated May 2021.

Authors have been quoting song lyrics in their books for eons, but if you plan to quote lyrics written after 1925, be prepared to do some research — and get out your checkbook — long before releasing…

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August 3, 2021

Bringing Dark Subjects to Light

by Jane Ward

Literature holds a mirror to life. Reflected back we’ll sometimes see beauty—the sunsets, the babies being born, the love that grows between people. At other times, darkness; illness, trauma, death. As uplifting as it is to write a love story, writers must also tackle the painful parts of life. It…

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July 27, 2021

Jumpstart your Writing

by Tina Jenkins Bell

Ophelia Chambliss, artist

I recently had the opportunity to talk to a group of writers during a “Coffee and Conversation” program at Write On Door County in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. The conversation included important questions such as, where do you get your inspiration for writing? and. what’s a…

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July 20, 2021

Writing Advice from Elizabeth Strout

Writing advice from an interview with Elizabeth Strout and Bates College president Clayton Spencer by Emily McConville.

Write in scenes

“I just make a mess,” Strout told Spencer, who had asked her if she had a writing routine. “I’ve learned at this point that I don’t write from…

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July 13, 2021

How to Write a Nonfiction Book

by Boni Wagner-Stafford

Most writers will tell you that writing nonfiction is easier than writing fiction. This is the good news. The less good news: that doesn’t mean it’s less work to write a nonfiction book. While fiction writers often use a basic outline and then go wherever the story and characters take…

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