Tag Archives: writer

Writer Gear

As one of those kids who got disproportionately excited about buying new school supplies, I’m always interested in new gear to help with my writing. Now really, you don’t need any of the gear, but it’s fun. And at least for me, I like to have quality tools so I can focus on the writing without needing to find another pen or having a notebook that keeps flipping closed.

Here are a few of my favorite writery things:

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1. Macbook Air – I know this is a rather expensive tool, but it’s worth way more than its weight in gold (Get it? Because it barely weighs anything… Never mind.). If you’re a Mac and a writer, I can’t recommend this computer enough. The battery lasts forever, meaning you spend less time being that annoying girl in the coffee shop who is awkwardly looking for a spare outlet. You can also get a really rad case that gives you some major bookish cred.

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2. Scrivener – I’ve posted about it before, and I won’t bore you again, but this software blows Microsoft Word out of the water.

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3. Moleskine Large Ruled Notebook – What’s good enough for Papa Hemingway is good enough for me. I go for the basic lined journal. It opens flat and stays that way. The paper is nice, it has a handy bookmark and elastic closure, and best of all, it doesn’t have an on/off switch, so you never have to put it away on an airplane. I keep mine with me at all times, just in case inspiration strikes.

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4. Fisher Bullet Space Pen – I know what you’re thinking. Is that really necessary? And maybe it’s not, but it certainly is cool. The nice thing about the bullet is that it’s compact, but when the cap is placed on the end, it becomes a standard pen length. The ink cartridge is sealed and pressurized, so it writes upside down or sideways, and it has an estimated shelf life of 100 years, so chances are you’ll never have to buy a pen again. Just don’t lose it.

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5.  Snap Backpack from Everlane – Now that I have all of this writer gear, I need a place to put it. I’m a big fan of Everlane. They make quality products at reasonable prices, and their Weekender is the perfect travel bag. I recently purchased the snap backpack in green, and I can’t wait to start carrying it around town instead of my college Jansport. It’s a little more mature, even if it is still a backpack. Hopefully people will stop confusing me for a student.

So there you have it. My writing necessities. What’s on your list?

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Writing Conference Tips for Introverts

If you’re anything like me, the thought of a writing conference is both exhilarating and terrifying. I love to learn from the experts, so a weekend with authors, agents and editors is ideal. However, having to talk to said authors, agents and editors is fairly intimidating for an introvert, considering I’d rather be reading at home on a Friday night than, you know, interacting with people.

DFW Writers' Conference 2013

Still, a writing conference is a great opportunity, so I put my fears (and social awkwardness) aside for one weekend to attend the DFW Writers’ Conference in June. It was a great experience, and I learned a whole lot about writing. I also learned what to do (and what not to do) next time. If you’re an introvert like me, check out the tips below for ways to stay sane in an environment that might otherwise be incredibly overwhelming.

1. Attend icebreaker sessions. If you’re like me, the thought of attending an icebreaker session is somewhat akin to the threat of water boarding. However, it’s a great way to meet a few people that will become friendly faces throughout the conference. Who knows, you might meet someone from your town or exchange email addresses with a potential critique partner. It also sets the tone for a weekend of getting out of your shell just a bit to really experience what the conference has to offer.

2. Sit at empty tables. Too intimidated to approach a table full of people, especially when they’re already in the middle of a conversation? I feel your pain. Choose the less daunting option of sitting at a table with only a few people. Chances are, the other people are introverts just like you and will be relieved to have a new friend. Or, pick a completely empty table to catch up on your conference schedule. You likely won’t be alone for long.

3. Ask people what they write. The great thing about a writing conference is that there is already a common interest inherent to all attendees… writing! It’s a built-in conversation starter, and a great way to get people talking. Likewise, know your answer to this question before you arrive, because you’ll get it over and over again. It also helps to have a few comparable titles in your back pocket to help explain your interests.

4. Use social media. Social media is a great way to connect with other conference attendees. If you’re on Twitter, follow the authors, editors, agents and other writers. Tweet tips from the conference, share photos on Facebook and interact with other attendees without the intimidation of face to face conversation. Also, make sure your social media icons are actual photos (not your cat), so your fellow attendees can recognize who they’ve been tweeting with in real life.

5. Take a break. Everyone needs a break, but especially introverts. No panels catching your eye? Take that time to grab a coffee and read, catch up on emails or just relax. No one wins a prize for attending the most events and panels at a conference, and you’ll be much more open to learning and meeting new people once you’ve a little time to recharge.

6. Bring a sweater. This is less introvert-related and more comfort related. If you’re always cold like me, bring a sweater. Conference rooms are notorious for being air conditioned to an extreme degree, and you’ll have a much easier time listening if your body isn’t fighting off the first stages of hypothermia.

Any other tips for introverts at writing conferences? I need all the help I can get sometimes.

And on a somewhat related note, a guide to the care and keeping of introverts from Fast Company, via up A Cup of Jo. I’m tempted to post this on my office door as an instruction manual.

 

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Wisdom From Gary Provost

As I continue writing my manuscript, I’m thinking more and more about sentence structure and length, about making an impact with more than just the words on the page. Gary Provost provides us a great example of the power of a well-crafted sentence:

“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.”

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The Loss of a Great Writer

The loss of a great writer is like a swift punch to the stomach. It comes out of nowhere and completely takes my breath away, leaving me not only mourning the death, but also the loss of the incredible works of art I won’t get to consume.

We’ve lost so many great writers this year, and I hope to write about each one that touched me in time, but the recent death of Nora Ephron weighs heavily on my mind. Originally a journalist, she transitioned into writing plays and novels and writing, directing and producing films. I grew up watching movies like Sleepless and Seattle and When Harry Met Sally, and her words have long since become everyday phrases in my family.

Ephron was gifted at exposing the humor of everyday life and love, including topics like relationships, divorce, death and friendship – all in a relatable, eerily accurate way. I remember laughing repeatedly at the seemingly ridiculous scene in When Harry Met Sally when Jess and Marie move in together and have a huge fight about that “stupid, wagon wheel, Roy Rogers garage sale coffee table!”

Several years later, I’m now in the process of moving in with my fiancé and unintentionally recreating the embarrassing wagon wheel coffee table argument, only this time it’s about a bright blue, 17-foot-long kayak.

So Nora, if you’re up there reading blogs in your spare time, know that you touched my life and inspired me to be a better writer. To try to capture even a hint of the humanity you put into your work. And I will work each day to be the heroine of my life, and not the victim, as you advised in your ’96 Wellesley commencement address.

You should also know that I’m now 50 percent owner of one very blue, very large kayak that resides on my patio.

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