ARCHIVE FOR Ben Berman

Make Room for Surprise in Your Writing

There’s nothing wrong with writing what you know. But in this post, Grub Instructor Ben Berman looks at how the writing process also offers us the opportunity to discover what we know.

 

My five-year-old always protests whenever she sees me bring out my poetry bag—the briefcase I use when I go out for readings—knowing that I won’t be home in time to tuck her in.

August 8, 2018 | Ben Berman

Craft Advice The Writing Life

How Writing Returns us to Wonder

Given the busyness of our lives, finding time to “dwell in possibility,” as Emily Dickinson writes, isn’t easy. In this post, Grub Instructor Ben Berman thinks about how the writing process returns us to wonder and gives us the chance to “contemplate this world with a mixture of reverie and reverence.”

 

We are in the CVS parking lot, waiting for my wife to finish some errands, when my five-year-old notices an inchworm on her car window and starts to panic.

 

It’s okay, I say. It’s on the outside.

 

I don’t care, she screams. Kill it!

  ...

July 11, 2018 | Ben Berman

The Writing Life

How to Deal with Setbacks in the Creative Process

It can be disheartening to hit a stumbling block when working on a piece of writing. But GrubStreet Instructor Ben Berman helps us see how setbacks are often a natural and necessary part of the creative process.

 

The other day I was cooking dinner when my five-year-old crawled on over to me. Goo-goo, ga-ga, she said, putting her arms in the air. I picked her up and patted her back until she burped.

June 13, 2018 | Ben Berman

The Writing Life

The Secret to a Great Arc

Make your characters want something right away, wrote Vonnegut, even if it’s only a glass of water.

 

And as soon as we pick my four-year-old up from pre-school and strap her into her car seat, she tells us that she wants some water.

 

But a narrative, at its most basic level, is driven by the relationship between what a character wants and the obstacles in their way, and it just so happens that my daughter’s water bottle is empty.

May 9, 2018 | Ben Berman

Craft Advice The Writing Life

The Trouble with Transitions

My daughters were supposed to be getting ready for bed when I walked into their room and found my four-year-old naked, kneeling on all fours with her butt in the air, her older sister slapping her bottom.

 

What are you doing? I asked.

 

Playin’ the drums, my older daughter said.

 

And though part of me was relieved to see my four-year-old finally using her butt for something other than a wind instrument, I immediately stopped the show and escorted her to the shower.

April 11, 2018 | Ben Berman

Craft Advice The Writing Life