Chicago Writers Association Blog
Chicago Writers Association Blog

November 9, 2021

The Greener Grass

by Samantha Hoffman

I think we writers often look ahead and think _______________________ (fill in the blank from Column A below) when I _______________________ (fill in the blank Column B below).

COLUMN A COLUMN B My life will be perfect Finish my (great American) novel My goals will be met Find an agent I'll be happier Get a book deal from a publisher I'll find love Am paid a large…

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November 2, 2021

How to Outline a Nonfiction Book in 5 Steps

by Jerry Jenkins

Published with permission from Jerry Jenkins.

There’s no way around it. You need a book outline if you’re writing nonfiction.

For a novel, if you’re a Pantser (one who writes by the seat of your pants—like I do) as opposed to an Outliner, you can get away with having…

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October 26, 2021

Try NaNoWriMo This Year

By Maggie Smith

Before 2020, I’d always scoffed at folks who diligently signed up every November to pound out a new novel. I mean, I was a writer. It wasn’t a hard job, not like piloting a plane or curing cancer. All it required was putting my butt in the chair, turning on…

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October 19, 2021

10 Fun Writerly Things

by Samantha Hoffman

What's more motivating than being in the company of other writers? Make that happen with these 10 writerly things:

1. Let's Just Write! An Uncommon Writers Conference brought to you by Chicago Writers Association
A two-day, in-person conference in the heart of Chicago's Mag Mile. Twenty-plus presenters, workshops,…

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October 12, 2021

Edit as You Go? That is the Question

by Samantha Hoffman

There are two camps on editing as you go, no middle ground. The "don't" camp is way bigger, and more adamant than the "do" camp. I wonder, do we have control over that impulse?

I've done it both ways. When I wrote my first book I edited as I wrote,…

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October 5, 2021

How It Feels To Finish The First Draft Of Your First Novel

by Joanna Penn

Reprinted with permission from The Creative Penn.

I have stumbled through to the end of my story, and now I sit at the end of the first draft of the first novel. So how does it feel?

I'm proud to have over 70,000 words of a coherent story…

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September 28, 2021

Writing Advice from the Masters

  • Dorothy Parker: If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.

  • Stephen…

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September 21, 2021

Why Most Writing Rules Can Be Broken

By Tim Storm

Reprinted with permission Tim Storm

Almost every writing rule you can think of has exceptions. Why? And if breaking writing rules is possible, why pay any attention to them?

The Case of the Effective Deus Ex Machina

Earlier this year, I read a book called Fifteen Dogs. The…

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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…

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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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