July 2019: No one wants to hear your whole life story
The bad news about memoir: Nobody wants to read your life story.
The good news: That means you don’t have to write your life story.
Readers flocked to Sarah Van Arsdale’s story on beginning your memoir from our August memoir issue, making it our most popular post of the month.
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“The stories of our early lives don’t easily lend themselves to compelling memoir, because they’re often told from outside ourselves – think of the story your mother tells about the time you so adorably insisted on sleeping in your brand-new sneakers when you were 4. That’s your mother’s story, not yours.” she writes. “So while your early life undoubtedly informs the most interesting stories of your adult life, you often don’t need to include the stories that have accumulated; rather, you need to delve into your understanding of the stories.”
July 2018: Punctuation Boot Camp
Gail Radley’s punctuation boot camp attracted a number of willing recruits this time last year, all looking for some help whipping comma splices, uncertain semicolons, and errant exclamation marks into shape with a little help from a pro.
“Not all writers are grammarians or punctuation experts; we write because we love to read, and we want to create the sorts of things we love reading. We handle the language by an ear trained through years of reading and punctuate the same way,” she writes. “So here is a quick review of some of the stickier situations.”
July 2017: A guide to the micro-memoir
Acclaimed author Beth Ann Fennelly breaks down one of her favorite genres in this ultimate guide to writing short-short nonfiction, making it our most popular post of July 2017.
“A true hybrid, the micro-memoir strives to combine the extreme abbreviation of poetry, the narrative tension of fiction, and the truth-telling of creative nonfiction,” she writes.
“One thing the micro-memoir is particularly suited for is an exploration of a moment, particularly a moment that seems small or unimportant, but, when viewed from the right perspective, with the right attention, reveals itself to be central to identity. What are the moments who make us who we are?”
July 2016: Productive procrastination
“Sometimes the best way to write your novel is to do something else instead,” Anica Mrose Rissi writes in this megapopular post on productive procrastination from July 2017.
“The next time you’re stuck on a plot point, not in the mood, distracted by life or focusing hard but still missing the right words, get your brain unstuck and your creativity flowing again with one of these forms of productive procrastination.”
July 2015: Mini might
NaNoWriMo executive director Grant Faulkner shares how crafting short shorts can open a big world in this most popular post of July 2015.
“Initially, however, it was challenging to write with such brevity. I’d trained myself to string together a story with webs of words, full of character background and layers of details. I didn’t see ways to cut or compress,” he writes. “I didn’t see ways to cut or compress. I didn’t see ways to make the nuances and gestures of language invite the reader in to create the story. But writing within the fixed lens of 100 words required me to discipline myself stringently. I had to question each word, to reckon with Flaubert’s mot juste.”
July 2014: 5 under-the-radar residencies at writers’ homes
Our most popular post of July 2014 makes perfect sense given the season: Who doesn’t dream of a writing getaway in the summer months? “Revolutionize your own creative process by spending time in a new space,” promises this article on under-the-radar residencies, which features residencies in New Hampshire, Illinois, North Carolina, and more.