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The Fundamentals of Middle-School Blogging

On what topics would an eighth grader blog? Anything and everything, I’ve learned. During an all-day creative writing workshop I conducted with about forty students at Henrico County Public Schools‘ Elko Middle School, I read student writings on everything from football to indie music, from wrestling to baking. I also read a powerful “open letter” […]

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AWP Nugget: Hey Writers, Let’s Meet Up in Person in Seattle in 2014!

BOSTON — One emotion I have always felt at the AWP creative writers conference is jealousy. Jealousy of the talent and success of the panelists and readers. Jealousy of the way so many writer attendees approach literary editors on the Bookfair floor without fear. But, mostly, jealousy of how so many attendees have made the […]

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MFA Nugget: Writing to the Reader, and More

MONTPELIER, VERMONT — “Who is your audience?” Ah, the age-old question. Vermont College of Fine Arts instructor Larry Sutin said in his lecture here at our MFA in Writing residency that he hears that question asked all the time, adding with his usual dry wit, “enough times that it must be a very important question.” […]

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MFA Nugget: A Follow-Up on Teaching

MONTPELIER, VERMONT — Allow me to take a moment to step out of the daily postings for a moment here with what I will generously call a bonus post, one that follows well with this morning’s post on teaching creative writing. As some readers know, I’ve been exploring the possibility of providing the course I […]

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What Can We Learn from Nonfiction Writers Who Make Things Up?

There has been a tremendous amount of digital ink spilled this week on the fall of writing wunderkind Jonah Lehrer, whose book Imagine: How Creativity Works, it was revealed this week, contains fabricated quotes of Bob Dylan. Lehrer’s publisher has pulled the book. His employer, The New Yorker, has accepted his resignation. And people like […]

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When I Unplugged from the Grid

I just spent a week “off the grid,” disconnected from anyone not in my direct line of sight. I wasn’t living alone in Arches National Park, the way Desert Solitaire author Edward Abbey did for a long summer in the late 1950s, but I read his tale while taking in the eerie quiet of a […]

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When a Blog Post Goes Viral

I received a bit of a jolt yesterday morning when visiting my WordPress dashboard. The vertical blue bars showing daily page views were all but nonexistent. Then I realized it was because the scale had changed. The bar on the far right, showing that day’s views, was climbing right off of my screen. My latest […]

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When Should You Promote Older Posts?

Perhaps there are too many exobytes of data now for search engines to categorize. Maybe demonic SEO gurus have finally crowded out reasonable online queries. Or maybe it’s because it’s the end of the world is this Saturday. All I know is I spent several fruitless hours recently researching a simple social-media etiquette question, so […]

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How To Annoy Friends and Alienate People

ALERT: This is not just another post about “How to Use Twitter.” A few months before I joined Twitter I attended a panel discussion on social media. A self-described Twitter expert was filling in us novices on this magical pixie dust technology. He talked about how to schedule tweets and use tweet-management software. Yet he […]

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7 Steps to Writing Success

I was one of thousands of writers who descended on Washington, D.C., last week to soak up the wisdom of skilled – and successful – creative writers at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) 2011 Conference and Bookfair. I attended about a dozen sessions and had many phenomenal conversations with many compelling creatives. […]

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