Last year, I didn't make any New Year's resolutions. Frankly, I was tired of pushing myself so hard, and I thought: hey, how about I just try my best this year? It felt like a gentle enough goal given that I had just started a new job and my first novel was about to be published. While I knew quite a bit about what was ahead (I'd published nonfiction before), I had very little idea about whether the outcome for this book would be good, bad or indifferent, and how I would end up feeling about it all
January 8, 2020 | Katrin Schumann
In this post, GrubStreet Instructor Ben Berman reflects on the importance of flexible thinking during the creative process.
On the very same day that my older daughter was born, my grandmother died. I have always wanted to write about this but for some reason I have never been able to figure out how.
At first, I thought it might lend itself to a philosophical meditation on liminality and what it means to simultaneously navigate birth and death or perhaps some sort of spiritual piece on the deep connections between generations.
The problem, though, was that the ideas ...
November 13, 2019 | Ben Berman
The first time you publish a book, it’s a pretty surreal experience. First you wallow deliciously in the dreams and hopes that have built up inside you for years. Eventually, you learn to deal with the inflated expectations that breathless articles about the writing life have created in you. And then, when you make a sale, you have to wade through a lot of conflicting information: reconciling what your publisher promises with the sometimes demoralizing advice you get from other first-time authors (who often just don’t seem quite as happy as you think they should be).
With an eye to ...
November 8, 2019 | Katrin Schumann
In this post, Ben Berman looks at the importance of embracing contradictions and mixed emotions when writing poems.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the great researcher of creativity, has written a lot about conflict and dialectical tensions in his research on creative personality traits. In his study of some of the most eminent creators of the 20th Century (Nobel Prize winners in every field of study), he found that many of these people shared what he called antithetical traits, and he grouped these into ten categories.
According to Csikszentmihalyi, creative people often exhibit these paradoxical traits – they ...
September 11, 2019 | Ben Berman
Stick to a daily word count. Take more writing classes. Write twenty more queries. Yada Yada. What are the writing resolutions that are really important in terms of achieving success and having a reasonably satisfying work life?
Here are ten "rules" I try hard to live by when it comes to my writing. They don't all come naturally, but I strive to remember them, especially when I'm struggling.