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Why I am Obsessed with Artists

“Patrick, why are you so obsessed with artists and their creativity?” I’ve been asked that question a fair amount during my years as an artist’s advocate and a creativity and writing instructor. There is no simple answer to that question, but if the top five answers were on the board, one of them likely would […]

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4 Steps To Slashing that Manuscript in Revision

My mission: Reduce a 384-page first-draft memoir manuscript to 300 pages. Why? Because I know a tighter book will be a more pleasurable read, and because I know it will be easier to sell a shorter book to a publisher than a longer one. I’ve spent the last two months revising the memoir I wrote […]

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A Two-Year MFA in Writing Reading List in One Post

“So I would imagine you have to do a lot of reading in an MFA program,” I am sometimes asked. The answer is yes, and appropriately so: some believe the best way to learn to write is to read a lot, and to read critically. So what have I been reading the last two years […]

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When Did You First Embrace Your Creativity?

There were many commonalities I found among the creatives I interviewed during my 2010 cross-country U.S. trip. One was that my interview subjects all discovered their own creative side at a very early age. Fortunately for them–and for us–they held on to that creativity, and didn’t let the “I can’t” and “I don’t” forces of […]

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A Model for Feedback on Your Creative Work

“Writing is a solitary pursuit,” said award-winning author Robin Hemley, explaining why he has “no patience” for belonging to a writer’s group. You might argue that Robin has reached a level in his career where he doesn’t need feedback from other writers. He is an accomplished writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. He directs the […]

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Avoiding ‘Truthiness’ When Writing Your Life

“Did that really happen?” It’s a question every memoirist and personal essayist faces. Ideally the writer will answer “Yes.” It gets awkward when you have to say, “Yes, but…” In the October 2005 debut episode of his influential TV show, Stephen Colbert gave the world the word truthiness. He said truthiness is when you’re talking […]

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AWP Nugget: Left-Brain Planning for a Right-Brain Conference

The process of creating art fires neurons in the right side of our brains. Planning and organization processes in the left side. Planning the most creative use of one’s time at North America’s largest literary conference requires whole-brain thinking. Every artist I interviewed¬† on my cross-country U.S. road trip understood the role of planning in […]

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5 Keys to Success for Aspiring Writers (Not) to Follow

Today’s post is inspired by an award-winning fantasy and science fiction author I interviewed during my cross-country road trip, Michael Swanwick. For a time in the early 2000′s he played a character online by the name of “Unca Mike,” who took a different approach to writing advice: Most writing columns offer sound and useful advice […]

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Kudos to the Artist’s Road Commenters of 2012

The Artist’s Road is, at its heart, a conversation with its readers. It draws its strength from the quality and depth of its comments, left by thoughtful, reflective commenters. I am continually amazed at the wisdom left there; I love that my blog posts allow me to learn from my readers. So I’d like to […]

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How Do You Define an Artist?

Here in Washington, D.C., we are all swept up in amazement and wonder with the Redskins’ rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III. He is as flawless off the field as he is on. It becomes difficult after a while for writers to find new ways to describe how amazing he is, but in yesterday’s Washington Post, […]

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