Sometimes, when writing larger works, the project starts to feel stale. When that happens, here are some tools and suggestions that may help you step back, catch your breath, consider the "why" of your project, and start again reinvigorated.
I’m providing a couple of readings:
First, is the chapter “Not the Design of the Author” from Robert Root’s book, The Nonfictionist’s Guide: On Reading and Writing Creative Nonfiction, to give you a sense of the transforming possibilities in the stories we choose to write.
Second, is an article by Sean Ironman, “Writing the Z-Axis” to remind us that reflection is an integral part of this genre.
And lastly, I’m sending you a “Rhetorical Triangle” to get you thinking about your relationship with your current, or next, project that preoccupies you.
So this is what I’d ask of you the next two weeks: Take Robert Root’s advice, and start a project journal, or writing log. This is a safe place for you to write about your writing. To get you started, ask yourself the following questions of what you’d like to write about:
What about this project interest or excites me?
What do I hope to learn, accomplish?
How does this connect to what I need to know about myself, what I need to know about the subject?
Why do I want to know this?
Also use this log to answer the questions posed on the Rhetorical Triangle.
Take a few minutes each day, or as often as you can, to gather your thought in your writing log before you begin drafting or revising a piece you’re working on. The journal is not meant to be shared, but you may discover insights or reflections you’d like to share in the comments. By all means, do. But remember, this is your safe place to just explore your thoughts about the “why” you want to write what you’re writing, so don’t let the idea of commenting stop you from using it as this kind of exploratory tool. If you don’t have a project, or something you’re working on, maybe answer the questions more broadly, like:
Why do I choose nonfiction over fiction or poetry?
What events have had meaning for me?
Who are the people that have affected me the most in my life?
Then the questions posed above about why and how they connect to you may feel more applicable.
My hopes are that efforts taken, thoughts captured in this activity will help ground you in the work you've chosen to focus on. You may find you have a large project you’d like to apply it to, or it may help you focus on a smaller piece you’re developing.
Let me know how it goes!
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Hey there! Over the years, I've assembled these prompts, readings, and articles for my students and writing group members. Feel free to use these in your own work or share them in your writing groups. I would love to read your responses to these, please leave a comment!