A Crash Course in Time Management

Hands down, my greatest weakness when it comes to creative ventures is time management. I usually have at least two projects underway at any given moment and am always plotting at least one more, but I rarely complete any of them in a timely manner. Yes, I work full time on top of these passion projects, but I should still have some time left over to focus on making stuff, right?

On average, I work eight or nine hours a day and sleep about seven, so that’s sixteen out of twenty-four hours down the drain right from the start. Yes, that’s a lot of lost time, but that still leaves eight hours to carve out time to create. Oh, to have eight full hours a day to work on ANYTHING! You and I both know that’s not a likely scenario. What about making and eating dinner? The dog’s getting restless, time for a walk. Dishes are piling up, laundry needs done, gotta get to the grocery store, have some bills to sort out, oh and how about we avoid alienating everyone important in our lives? Eight hours becomes about an hour divided into inconvenient intervals just like that, and I don’t even have kids! Creative parents, I don’t know how you do it, and I salute you.

Now that we’ve identified how precious and fleeting our time is, we need to make some adjustments and mold an itinerary that works for us. A few years back, my work schedule changed from a 6:00 AM start time to 8:00 AM, and I decided I’d just keep getting up around 5:00 and try to utilize that uncluttered morning-brain to work on writing and editing. I was already on the schedule, so it didn’t feel like a seismic shift in my day to day, but it made a massive impact on my productivity, and I still get up way too early every work day. Well… almost every work day. I’ve never been a morning person, but I was surprised to find out how much I’m able to accomplish in this seemingly insignificant window. I highly recommend adding an hour to your morning routine if you find yourself struggling with deadlines or project completions If not for these morning sessions, I think my LetterWorks associates would’ve kicked me to the curb for not keeping up with the workload!

That’s a little over one hour per day that I’ve wrangled for myself, but I still needed more. I started reading time management tips and blogs, and decided to look into auditing my time. I downloaded the Toggl app and have been dutifully logging my activities for about a week now. It seems strange to record everything you do over the course of the day, but since I always have my phone handy, I can update it as an alternative to checking social media. This comes with the added bonus of sparing myself the shot of existential dread from watching society collapse in real time, so it’s already worth it! I haven’t logged my social media use specifically, but using the Screen Time app, I’ve got a few hours per week that I could at very least use for reading, organizing, or otherwise planning something related to my creative endeavors. If you’re interested in auditing your time but don’t think an app is right for you, here’s a handy printable chart you can use!

As expected, the majority of my pie chart is eaten by work and sleep, but I do have moments here and there to lock into tasks that don’t require the full focus of editing or writing, like catching up on emails. I’ve squeaked in time between getting ready for work and actually leaving (fifteen minutes on Monday!), while dinner is cooking, and then of course in the evening after my other life-essential tasks are done.

You may find as I did, that evenings are not as easy to schedule productivity into as I had assumed. There are the usual day to day activities, but then we also have our loved ones to consider. I have no desire to just abandon my girlfriend between dinner and bedtime, and generally will not unless I have a pressing deadline. I can, however, work on layout, website updates, project promotion, writing emails, or other mission-adjacent tasks when we sit down to watch TV. This doesn’t always happen, but as I continue to monitor my time usage, I get better at spotting windows like this that I can utilize.

Another thing I’ve discovered is that simply scheduling and logging time doesn’t always lead to results. In these cases, I’ve been careful to note what variables are at play so I can try to either plan around them or prepare for them in the event that I can’t reschedule. Sometimes this means skipping an early morning session in favor of sleep after a particularly long or grueling day at work.

Setting goals for each session has been helpful as well. Whether I set a word or page count for a specified period of time, or set a time limit to complete a task, I find that goals are good motivators. This would’ve been utter speculation had I attempted it before keeping track of my productivity, but now I have an idea how long it takes me to write and edit a blog post, or how much of a magazine layout I can get done in an hour. And speaking of motivators, logging milestones and completed projects is a great way to see that you’re making progress and your efforts are paying off!

Here are some helpful links to get you off and running with your own personalized time management regimen!

https://observer.com/2015/06/how-to-be-efficient-dan-arielys-6-new-secrets-to-managing-your-time/
This one is particularly helpful to anyone feeling like society is conspiring to hijack our free time.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2018/05/01/manipulate-time-with-these-powerful-20-time-management-tips/#5f72a4c757ab
This Forbes article caters more to the business-minded than creative types, but still contains some solid points. Plus, most writers are basically one-person businesses!

https://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/making-time-to-write-time-management-for-screenwriters
Here’s one for screenwriters, but applies to anyone looking to string more words together.

https://toggl.com/time-management-tips/
The aforementioned app, Toggl has some ideas on how it should be done as well.

I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from the always fantastic Kameron Hurley:

“Time management has been high on my list of things to fix this year, and if I was going to get all the work done that I needed to get done, something had to go. That something was engaging with the internet. When people pop into my Twitter mentions now with a passive-aggressive response or angry point of disagreement, I just mute them. Folks forget that they are talking to a Real Human Being here, with a shitbrick of work to do and no time for their nonsense. I’ve reminded myself over and over this year that the purpose of most abuse you get online for speaking your mind (especially if you don’t present as a Generic White Dude), is done to steal your time. People want to wear you down, to break you, to silence you. And in order to keep working, I’ve had to make some changes to how I interact (or not) in online spaces. Most of the bloviating circle-jerking stuff is just not worth my time. I engage when it matters, not just in reaction to somebody being dumb and wanting me to waste my time bloviating a “response” to something patently ridiculous like “women shouldn’t vote” or “periods make women dumb.” I’m too fucking busy getting shit done over here.”

Source: https://www.kameronhurley.com/the-calm-before-the-storm/

Worth Every Sacrifice

Like most artists, the road to becoming a published author is unique for each individual traveling it. But anyone planning for success must also plan for one thing: sacrifice. Whether the path is long and arduous like it was for Michael J. Sullivan, or enviably short like Brandon Mull’s, there is no way forward without surrendering a few things.

It’s Time

The most obvious sacrifice necessary is of time. Regular, consistent, methodical, reliable, scheduled TIME. Many aspiring authors disappear into the ranks of the wistful wishful because they fail to dedicate the necessary time to see their vision through, push through the walls, and lulls in creativity between projects. If you are not committing to regular time for writing in your schedule, then you are not a writer. Even the aspiring kind.

Pride

“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something” (The Princess Bride). “Get used to disappointment” (also The Princess Bride). Even some of the biggest best-selling novels in history were rejected many, many times. Harry Potter? 12. A Wrinkle in Time? 26. Kate DiCamillo received a staggering 473 rejection letters for various efforts before publishing Because of Winn-Dixie, arguably one of the most-read books in Middle School. To succeed in publication, one must sacrifice their pride, and recognize that even a well-written manuscript may not be picked up right away for publication. It’s also worth remembering that the quality of the manuscript is (obviously) not determined by how many rejection letters the author receives in the attempt to publish. It may be rejected because of that particular publisher’s goals, what kind of works they are currently interested in publishing, or because it’s just not well represented.

And Prejudice

You’ve just written the best thing you’ve ever attempted. The characters are alive and real to you, the story moves along at a good clip and has some exciting plot twists you’re excited for readers to discover. It’s perfect. With all due respect: nothing is perfect straight out of the gate. As the author you see and live the story in a way no one else can. And there’s the rub. No one else can. Which is why every published author has a favorite editor, and many a forward dedicates some space for gratitude toward their editor(s) for helping make the book the best it could be. The editor’s job is to help draw out your vision and trim back the weeds to bring into focus what the readers need to see to experience your work in the best way possible. Check your pride and author’s prejudice at the door, and let your baby grow up and move out into the world!

Worth It

To live is to sacrifice. Each moment of the day we are choosing how to spend that moment. We are giving up infinite possibilities to choose the one thing we are doing right this minute. If your goal is to be a published author, choose to leave behind whatever is holding you back from that reality. Check your pride at the door an acknowledge that rejection is just part of the process. Not everyone is going to love your work, or have room for it in their lives. That is not a value judgement, it just is. Set aside your personal preferences and listen to a good editor help you refine your work and prepare it for publication. Then get to work. And keep working.

Hygge Writing Prompts

As the winter solstice approaches and the nights lengthen to their darkest and most forbidding, I am inclined to go dormant along with the trees and squirrels. The Danish concept of Hygge (hoo-ge) has a way of embracing that desire to bring things down a notch, while remaining pleasantly productive throughout those dreary days of winter. It’s all about connecting with nature, friends, and all that nurtures the soul in the colder months. Here are four writing prompts inspired by this way of living that just might help you find joy in the beautiful coziness of our shortest days.

 

Winter Walk

A winter walk can be inspiring.

When temperatures drop, our human instinct tells us to stay as comfortable as possible at all times… which generally means we collectively become homebodies if we weren’t already. Less time outdoors means less daylight and vitamin D, which means lowered seratonin production, which encourages scroogey attitudes. Don’t let it affect your writing mojo!  Bundle up and head outside. Notice the changes of the plants in your area. Is it peacefully silent in your neck of the woods? Or busier than ever on your street with the impending holidays? Notice everything. Take notes. When you get someplace you can really write, flesh out vignettes of the places you went and the scenes that were most interesting. Was it that one tree stubbornly insisting on autumn with one vibrant leaf still clinging to a twig? Was it the stressed-out convo overheard? An act of kindness observed? Post your experience here or on our Facebook page!

 

Cozy Cups

Awaken your senses.

Hot drinks warm you up from the inside out and just feel right at this time of year. Prepare an assortment of hot drinks and some nibbles. Something familiar is nice, but be sure to include something you’ve never tasted before. Find a comfortable place to sip and write without distraction. Describe each tea, cocoa, or even soup, in detail. Finding the right words to accurately represent the complexity of flavor is the challenge! If it’s a hot toddy, how does the alcohol affect your senses? Include any memories that pop up in association with each concoction. This exercise is almost meditative as you learn to slowly savor each sip and decipher the language of your palate.

 

Friends and Food

Collaboration with friends.

One critical element of Hygge is self-care; understanding the need for kindness to ourselves. While many here are already paring back their meals in penance for the holiday feasting, the Danes embrace all that  brings comfort and joy, especially friends and good food. Gather some of your favorite people, prepare some of your favorite foods, and play some of these improv games. Thinking on your feet and collaborative storytelling encourage you to think outside the box in ways staring at a blank page just doesn’t.

  • One Word — Sit in a circle and tell a story together. If you’ve ever played “Fortunately but Unfortunately,” this is similar, but as you go around the circle each person contributes only the next single word to the sentence/story. Don’t overthink! Just say whatever pops out. The result is hilarious fun.
  • Telestrations — This is a game that can be purchased, or done simply with paper and pencils for the group. The first person writes a sentence, then folds the paper so that the sentence is covered, and passed to the left. The next person peeks at the sentence and illustrates it. If you are a horrible artist, no worries! It just makes the next part more fun. Fold that paper the other way, so your art AND the sentence are hidden, and pass it to the left. Now look at ONLY the illustration, and write a sentence to describe what you see. Repeat this process, passing the papers until you get your original paper back. Sharing and laughing together by firelight feeds the soul, and the whole shenanigan improves creativity.
  • Yes and No… with a twist– This message will self-destruct after you finish this page. Well, maybe not, but the game can really only be played once with any particular group of friends. Tell your friends it will be a storytelling game, where half of you will be creating a story, and they have to guess what it is asking only questions with yes and no answers; then send half the group out of the room.  The remaining half is told that they are actually NOT going to create the story, the guessers are. For every question that starts with a consonant will be a yes answer, vowels will be a no. When the other half returns, the incognito collaboration begins.

 

Luminaries

“There are two ways of spreading light:

to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.”

Edith Wharton

Hygge culture thrives by candlelight. So light a candle, find a cozy fireplace, and contemplate those who have given light, illumination, a brightness to your world of some kind. This can be someone you know very well, a child, an artist who has inspired you, a historical or religious figure who lit a figurative fire in some way; anyone who has been a luminary to you personally. Write a quick character sketch based on that person. What have been their biggest challenges and how did they overcome them? Write their biography from your limited perspective. Write them a letter thanking them for their influence in your life. This can be four writing opportunities in one if you let it.

 

Snuggle into the rhythms of winter. Writing practice can include creative collaborations and silent contemplations. Be kind to yourself, embrace friends and comforting traditions. And keep writing.

Surviving Burnout! A Must-Read for the Holiday Season

As November winds down and brings NaNoWriMo to a close, it’s time to discuss an important subject that many writers face but don’t like to talk about: writer burnout. All of us have or will come across this dreaded feeling; it’s akin to a sailor being stranded in the doldrums. One minute you’re flying along on the giddy wings of inspiration, and your fingers can’t keep pace with your ideas. The next, you stumble and stare at a blank page. What was effortless a second ago is now a drudge. The words are there, but they jumble inside your mind and they won’t come out. Is it writer’s block or are you tired? This happens to us all. It’s unexpected, it’s not preventable, it’s frustrating and there is no way of knowing how long it’s going to last. The only cure is patience. Writer burnout can strike anyone at any time. So what can you do when it happens to you?

We’ve talked a lot about how to use strategies to overcome writer’s block, but burnout is different. The definition of burnout is: “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.” It’s important to identify the events or times in your life in which you may be suffering high amounts of stress that could contribute to sudden and unexpected burnout. NaNoWriMo is a big culprit. The holidays are another. Tests, exam dates, family visiting, changes to a schedule … these are all valid reasons that one might suffer burnout, especially at this time of year.

But writing is how I combat stress in my life, you might say. I agree, as writers do. It can be a cathartic outlet and is a form of stress relief. So why then would one be burned out from doing the thing they love? It is when there is a schedule involved, such as writing for a deadline, editing a project, contributing to a literary journal, composing an academic paper, contributing to a competition or hosting a blog which one might find pressure building. This brings a different sort of expectation to the writing than one would have in writing for pleasure. Typically, writers take pride in their skill and they are so at ease in their craft that they are writing far more than they realize. They may craft a paper for school and discount that as “writing” because it was so easy for them. They may put out a quick blog post but not consider that “real writing.” Then when they come home to work on their novel, they don’t realize that they have been using their talents all day. It may not seem like much, and it may be enjoyable, but it is still writing and requires work. When we are under stress from different areas of our life, the words dry up and we are left wondering if they will ever return.

A big contributor to burnout is the holiday season. Whether you love it or hate it, it is tough on the life of a writer. Most cultures celebrate holidays of some kind, and no matter what time of year they fall, they tend to involve a disruption of schedule. Writers need time to practice their craft, and they require uninterrupted concentration. This is in short supply when relatives are visiting and the flow of the day is different due to celebration. Increased responsibility and attendance at festivities means that writing needs to take a backseat to whatever event—or events—are occurring. These events could be a day or even span the course of several weeks. Some families are accepting and accommodating of writers’ needs during this time, and others are less so. This can lead to frustration and guilt for the writer. This slurry of disrupted scheduling and emotional havoc is a major contributor to burnout.
What can be done? Be patient and forgiving of yourself, especially during a time of year when you expect to have increased responsibilities that will take away from your writing time. Plan when you can write and set aside those moments so that you can be assured to have time for yourself in the chaos of the holiday season, but know, too, that you might not be able to keep to your regular output. Understanding that beforehand will alleviate anxiety. Many people who participated in NaNoWriMo choose to take off the month of December. A pause is something to consider, and know that you may come back in January invigorated and refreshed.

Understanding that burnout doesn’t just happen to some—it happens to all—is a helpful point to remember. This is something that is stress-induced and can be managed, but in the end every writer has been in this position, and you are not alone. From Shakespeare to Virgina Woolf, if you wield a pen, at some point you will feel betrayed by your inspiration. It’s the badge that marks you as an author, and something only time and patience can cure. But by keeping in mind that you are in good company and you, too, will survive, hopefully your holidays will be a little less stressful to begin with.

December Events

Hey everyone! Hope y’all had a great Thanksgiving! With the passing of this holiday, December is quickly approaching, so here is the monthly events article! This article consists of a list of 10 free writing events in Michigan, yeah you read that right, they’re all FREE. As usual, please comment on this article if you attend these, or any other events not listed! We’d love to hear from you!

1st – Beyond Breakthroughs Vision Board Party – Detroit

While this isn’t exactly a writing event, creating a vision board can help you visualize the settings and overall feel of whatever piece of writing you’re working on, whether it’s a novel, short story, or even a poem! Check out more details through the link!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/beyond-breakthroughs-vision-board-party-tickets-52405026846?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&utm-source=strongmail&utm-term=listing

 

2nd – Novel Revelry: “The Big Sleep” Raymond Chandler – Ann Arbor

This little book club is perfect for anyone who is looking for a sense of community! This month, they are discussing the book “The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler! Click the link for more information!

Novel Revelry: “The Big Sleep” Raymond Chandler

Sunday, Dec 2, 2018, 10:30 AM

A delightful home Ann Arbor
xxx Ann Arbor, MI

12 Revelers Attending

We’ve all seen the movie now let’s read the book: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. then we’ll have a discussion held at an address to be announced. Note the time change: 1030am.-1230 pm, Sunday, 12/2/18. Coffee available. Bring snacks or not. Here’s a little bit about Chandler and the Big Sleep. The 100 best novels: No 62 – The Big Sleep by Raymo…

Check out this Meetup →

3rd – How to Quiet the Inner Critic – Ann Arbor

Jeannie Ballew will be giving this awesome presentation all about how to deal with your inner critic, and get back to writing! With different activities and snacks, this is jammed packed! More information is available on their MeetUp!

How to Quiet the Inner Critic

Monday, Dec 3, 2018, 6:00 PM

Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room
114 South Main Street Ann Arbor, MI

16 Awesome Writers Attending

Every writer, and I mean every writer, struggles with self-doubt. Since those doubts aren’t going to go away (sorry), how do you keep going, especially when the mean voice in your head gets really loud? What will give you the courage to dig ever deeper in the face of that nagging doubt and soldier on? Come join us to discover the two questions you …

Check out this Meetup →

5th – Open Mic Poetry – Farmington Hills

It’s exactly what the name says! Come share your poetry at the Open Mic Poetry night, or just listen! Click the link for more info!

Open Mic Poetry

Wednesday, Dec 5, 2018, 7:30 PM

Kola Lounge & Resturant
32523 Northwestern Hwy. Farmington Hills, MI

4 Members Attending

POETRY IS A RHYTHMIC CREATION OF BEAUTY IN WORDS. -Edgar Allen Poe Don’t be shy! We invite you to share an original poem or just sit back and listen. Join us for an evening of artistic expression in spoken word. (Novice poets welcome!)

Check out this Meetup →

6th – Pagodaville Book Release – Kalamazoo

Ellen Bennett will be celebrating the release of her new book, “Pagodaville”. It’s sure to be a memorable event! More info through the link!

https://www.evensi.us/pagodaville-book-releaseauthor-signing-ellen-bennett-224-michigan-avenue-kalamazoo-49007/278674818

7th – Critical Studies Writing Worshop – Bloomfield Hills

This event will look into a variety of topics, provided on the Eventbrite link that’s listed below, and a writing workshop, all presented by John Corso, author of “New Subjectivities in Fiber Art and Craft: Shadows of Affect”

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/critical-studies-writing-worshop-tickets-50671985272?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&utm-source=strongmail&utm-term=listing

13 – YA Book Club – December Read – The Fearless – Goodrich

The Cottage Used Bookstore Book Club will be discussing  “The Fearless” by Emma Pass. This book club focuses on YA (Young Adult) Novels, but welcomes all ages! Click the link for more info!

YA Book Club – December Read – The Fearless

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018, 7:00 PM

Cottage Used Books
8331 S. State Road Goodrich, mi

2 Members Attending

Join us for a fun evening discussion of this action packed YA book!

Check out this Meetup →

16th – Meet & Greet: Welcome Writers & Filmmakers – Dearborn

This is a great event to go and network at! Meet tons of writers, filmmakers, and many more professionals! Through the link is more information!

Meet & Greet: Welcome Writers & Filmmakers

Sunday, Dec 16, 2018, 2:00 PM

brome burgers and shakes
22062 Michigan Ave Dearborn, MI

4 Members Attending

Come enjoy great food and get to know other aspiring writers and filmmakers. This will be an informal meeting to share ideas and career aspirations, create an outline for future meetings and begin developing OUR film project.

Check out this Meetup →

19th – Author – Book signing and story telling. Wild Shot. – Cheboygan

This book signing will feature Andy Lieber, the author of “Wild Shot”,  his book is about traveling the world and his experiences with Olympic athletes! Don’t miss this cool event!

https://allevents.in/michigan/author-book-signing-and-story-telling-wild-shot/20002559953676

22nd – Author Signing: Mark Stormzand, Stormy Outside: The Adventures And Misadventures Of A Forester & His Dog – Traverse City

Mark Stormzand will be discussing and signing copies of his book, “Stormy Outside: The Adventures And Misadventures Of A Forester & His Dog”! This is sure top be a fun and lighthearted event! Click that link to see more information!

Author Signing: Mark Stormzand, STORMY OUTSIDE: THE ADVENTURES AND MISADVENTURES OF A FORESTER & HIS DOG

Have a great December everyone, and good luck on all your Black Friday shopping!

 

 

Memoir vs. Autobiography: Does It Really Matter?

Happy November! For most of America, the transition from October to November heralds the end of trick-or-treating and pumpkins and the anticipation of Thanksgiving and the bigger winter holidays, whatever your family celebrates. For writers, however, November first means only one thing: the start of NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month! Our staff has covered this venerable tradition in the past, and we’ve got advice for you if you’re participating this year for everything on staying motivated  to the importance in staying connected with like-minded individuals to reviewing your work after the big rush . Here are some links to get you started:

This post is for the portion of our friends out there who swim in the autobiographical end of the writer’s pool or for those who are thinking about testing those waters this November. We are seeing more and more of a trend towards autobiographical submissions. This is becoming a very popular category of the nonfiction section, and why not? It’s easy to see why people might want to draw from their own personal histories to create an epic novel; there’s an endless source of inspiration to draw from. Anyone can do it, from celebrities to political figures to a person with a story to tell. But hold on a second: does anyone remember that moment in time back in 2006 when A Million Little Pieces was first hailed as a masterpiece then ultimately crucified as a work of fraud? Written by James Frey, the book was billed as a memoir, but on January 8, 2006, The Smoking Gun published an article exposing large portions of the book as fictionalized or gross exaggerations. Mr. Frey was interviewed by Larry King to defend his book three days later, but the real media storm happened on January 26 when Mr. Frey made an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He was confronted by her and admitted to fabricating many sections of his memoir, which he had previously stated had been fact-checked by his publisher. This ultimately caused an ensuing controversy in which Mr. Frey’s literary manager dropped him and his publisher broke a two-book, seven figure deal. A legal settlement for readers who felt defrauded was also reached, and people were entitled to a refund of their book. That’s a massive consequence for someone who embellished the truth a bit. So where’s the line? Should writers be expected to remember every conversation they’ve ever had when they are recording memories to the page? Is any creative license allowed, or are we in danger of being sued by some disgruntled cousin who doesn’t remember the family reunion going down the way we do? How can we sort through what is fact and what is reasonable fiction? Luckily, there’s an answer to these questions and more.
Everything on this list falls under the umbrella of non-fiction. If I think of writing as dessert, then autobiography is cake. Memoir, narrative nonfiction, personal essays and roman à clef are all just slices of the same cake. Let’s break it down:

Autobiography: An autobiography can be distinguished from the others on the list as the most factual of the bunch. It is told in a linear fashion and should relay all the major life events of the subject in a chronological order. It concerns itself with the entire scope of a person’s life and all of the events, people, places and subjects that relate to a person’s existence as they move forward through their life, not just a few key years, events, feelings or observations of the narrator.

Memoir: This form gives someone more creative license. It can cover a few short years or a major event. Examples might include how someone survived their time in a concentration camp or how they overcame an addiction. It doesn’t have to be harrowing, but it may just focus on one developmental stage and is more likely to reflect strong feelings. It is generally less factual and more emotional. It is far less encompassing in scope than an autobiography. It is generally less formal and may have a more literary feel.

Narrative non-fiction: Narrative or creative non-fiction is a somewhat new and emerging genre. It draws on real-life scenarios, usually something journalistic, but incorporates elements of fiction to become a readable novel. According to literary critic Barbara Lounsberry, there are four recognizable elements to narrative nonfiction: the topics and events must exist in the real world (not in the mind of the author), there must be exhaustive research, all scenes must be in context, and it should all be presented in a literary style. Some examples of narrative nonfiction are The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee and Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Personal essay: This is exactly what it sounds like: an essay that is personal to you. It is generally just a short memoir. A great example of a classic personal essayist is David Sedaris.

Roman à clef: Roman à clef is from the French, meaning “novel with a key.” It began as a way for people to write an expose of famous social and political figures without the risk of reprieve. It is truth with an overlay of fiction. Names or identifying situations can be changed to avoid persecution, but the general public could still understand and enjoy the jab. This could be done for protection of the author or for satirical purposes. The Marquis de Sade often employed the roman à clef to skewer prominent religious and political figures of his day. Today, the roman à clef is still in use for various reasons, including satire, but it can also be used when you’d like to write a memoir but perhaps you would like a bit more creative license than your own story affords you. This is where certain authors—cough, Mr. Frey, cough—could simply have stated his work was inspired by real events. That little disclaimer would have saved him seven figures plus and a whole lot of embarrassment.

These are all just guidelines. Most of them bleed into each other. The important thing to remember is if you have a story to tell that you don’t fret which category you bill it as, but that you get it all down on paper, especially this November! A good editor can help you decide how your memories and your story fit together and what you’d like to call it. Happy writing!

November Events

While I’m sure everyone is excited for Halloween next week, it’s never too early to start planning for all the cool writing events you’ll be attending this November! As it is officially NaNoWriMo, there will be a lot of events this month that revolve around it! Hopefully you can find the perfect event to help you reach your goal! As usual, all of these events are free to attend! Happy writing everyone!

2nd – Tom VanHaaren- “The Road to Ann Arbor” – Ann Arbor

Tom VanHaaren will be at the Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor to discuss and sign copies of his book; “The Road to Ann Arbor”! While there isn’t a lot of information on this event, it’s sure to be great! More Info through the link!

https://www.triumphbooks.com/tom-vanhaaren—the-road-to-ann-arbor–event-3443.php

3rd –  ‘5th Annual ‘A Gathering of Writers’ Fall Writing Conference’ – Ionia

This conference is jam packed with a variety of workshops and authors, all willing to teach you new skills! There are 5 workshops overall, each offering different tips and tricks about all aspects of writing! Click the link to see descriptions of the workshops, get more information and register!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/5th-annual-a-gathering-of-writers-fall-writing-conference-tickets-50442754637?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

8th – Lecture: Dr. David Dark – Holland

This lecture will certainty be interesting as Dr. David Dark will be discussing the points of post-apocalyptic novels, and how they challenge our morals. He will also be discussing Emily St. John Mandel’s ‘Station Eleven’ novel in a similar fashion! Click here to register and read more!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lecture-dr-david-dark-author-of-lifes-too-short-to-pretend-tickets-50455115609?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

9th – 10th – NaNoWriMo Write or DIE Library Lock-in – Traverse City

Contrary to the title, you will not die! This is an 18+ event held at the Traverse City Library, and participants will spend the night locked in the library to try to meet their NaNoWriMo goals! An interesting event indeed! Don’t forget to register and check out more information through the link!

NaNoWriMo Write or DIE Library Lock-In

10th – Motown Writers Monthly Meetup – Detroit

This group has been meeting since 2000, and is filled with all sorts of writers! A great opportunity to network with other writers and share opinions! Click the link for more information, and to see there other meetups!

Motown Writers Meetup Group

Detroit, MI
2,934 Writers

Hi everyone. This is a group for everyone in the Detroit Area (and Michigan area) who like to write. Whether it’s a novel, short story, poem, autobiography, or any other gener…

Next Meetup

#MotownWriters Monthly @Meetup

Saturday, Nov 10, 2018, 10:00 AM
4 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

15th – NaNoWriMo Write in – Lansing

This is just one of many of the NaNoWriMo Write ins that are available in Lansing, the link contains the full list,  and other NaNoWriMo events that they will be hosting!

https://nanowrimo.org/regions/usa-michigan-lansing

18th – Detroit Public Library Welcomes Author David Baldacci – Detroit

Usually I try not to have any of the events in the same locations, but this event was too good to pass up! Possibly a once in a lifetime experience, David Baldacci will be at the Detroit Public Library to sign copies of his new book, ‘Long Road to Mercy’! Here’s the link to register!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/detroit-public-library-welcomes-author-david-baldacci-tickets-51486421272?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

26th – Barbara Oakley: Learning How to Learn – Port Huron

While this event isn’t directly linked to writing, Barbara Oakley will address how to handle procrastination, learning new material, and bad memory, all of which can cause you to put off writing! Registration and full description of the topics through the link!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/an-evening-with-author-barbara-oakley-learning-how-to-learn-tickets-51106888078?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

30th –  You Wrote a Novel… Now What? – Ann Arbor

This is a NaNoWriMo wrap up event that will have Brigit Young as a guest speaker! A great way to learn about publishing and celebrate your NaNoWriMo accomplishments! Click the link for more information and other NaNoWriMo events!

https://nanowrimo.org/regions/usa-michigan-ann-arbor

 

I hope you all enjoy these events! Don’t forget to let us know if you go to these events, or others not mentioned, by commenting on this article! We can’t wait to hear from you! Happy November everybody!

October Events

October is almost here! September’s wrapping up, and everyone is getting ready for Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Oktoberfest and Halloween, but there’s still time for you to get in on some events that are more centered around writing!  As per usual, here are ten free events in Michigan that are sure to spark some writing creativity within you!

Sept. 15th – Oct. 20th – Give and Let Go Exhibition – Lowell

While this is a repeat from the September events, this unique exhibition will be going on until the 20th  of October! Don’t miss this chance to view an amazing exhibition that features Miriam Pederson’s  poems that accompany Ron Pederson’s welded works of art. More information is available through the link!

https://www.lowellartsmi.org/give-and-let-go

1st – Grand Blanc Authors Meetup – Grand Blanc

This is a group for authors in and around Grand Blanc who are trying to make a living in publishing, they will be meeting at the Grand Blanc – McFarlen Library on the first! For more information, and to RSVP, click that link!

Grand Blanc Authors Meetup

Grand Blanc, MI
127 Members

A group for authors who are wanting to make a full time living in publishing.

Next Meetup

Grand Blanc Authors Meetup

Monday, Oct 1, 2018, 6:00 PM
5 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

 

4th – Author Signing: Heather Havrilesky – Ann Arbor

Heather Havrilesky is the author of four published novels and a number of articles, she will be at the Literati Bookstore to sign copies of her books and chat. This is a great chance to meet her! The link contains more information!

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/234578/heather-havrilesky/#events

6th – Author Event: A Trail of Michigan Authors – Muskegon

This event will feature over 45 authors from all around Michigan! A very unique event put on by Barnes and Nobles, I doubt you’ll have another chance to meet this many authors in one day again! More information is available through the link!

https://allevents.in/michigan/author-event-a-trail-of-michigan-authors/20001123029231

13th – Indie Author Day Celebration – Lansing

To celebrate National Indie Authors day, Capital Area District Libraries will be holding a panel with authors and the people who make publishing a book a reality at their Downtown Lansing Branch. What an awesome way to celebrate this amazing holiday! Check out the link for more information!

http://www.cadl.org/news/2018/08/29/indie-author-day-2/

16th – Meet Author Sarah Miller discussing ‘Caroline’ – Dansville

Sarah Miller is a Dansville native, and will be at the Capital Area District libraries Dansville Branch to discuss one of her books, ‘Caroline’. The link for this one is a bit finicky, so here is a direct quote from their website, along with a link to the Cadl website;

Meet Author Sarah Miller (Adults)

Tuesday October 16, 2018 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Our group meets every month for a lively book discussion. This month we welcome the author of our selection–Sarah Miller. Her historical fiction novel Caroline explores the joys and hardships of the American frontier as seen through the eyes of Caroline “Ma” Ingalls, mother of Little House author Laura Ingalls Wilder.

http://www.cadl.org/

23rd – Grand Rapids Sci-fi Fantasy Book Club – Grand Rapids

This book club loves everything Sci-fi, and welcomes everyone! This month’s  book is ‘The Grace of Kings’ by Ken Liu, and is the first book in ‘The Dandelion Dynasty’ Series. See their Meetup page for more info!

Grand Rapids Sci-Fi Fantasy Book Club

Grand Rapids, MI
32 Geeks

Do you like to read science fiction and/or fantasy? We are a fun-loving book group that doesn’t get caught up with too many rules or labels. We read everything from Neil Gaima…

Check out this Meetup Group →

24th – Jeffrey Eugenides Author Talk and Book Signing – Detroit

Pages Bookshop and Wayne State University present Jeffrey Eugenides, who will be speaking about his multiple novels and to sign books! To register for this event, and to get more information, check out their Eventbrite page!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/jeffrey-eugenides-author-talk-book-signing-tickets-49955246487?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

27th – Southwest Michigan Writers Conference – Niles

If you’ve been thinking of self-publishing, then this event is perfect for you! This event will feature many authors and professionals that will share their stories, tips and tricks about self-publishing! For more information, and to register, visit the website below!

Southwest Michigan Writers’ Conference

28th – 1st Annual Grand Traverse Festival of Books – Traverse City

Inspired by the Detroit Festival of Books, this is a brand new event that will be happening for the first time ever! Don’t miss your chance to attend this special occasion! Visit their Meetup page for more information and a link to their website!

1st Annual Grand Traverse Festival of Books

Sunday, Oct 28, 2018, 10:00 AM

Grand Traverse Mall
3200 S Airport Rd West Traverse City, mi

3 Members Attending

*This is NOT a BCD event* 1st Annual Grand Traverse Festival of Books! Sunday, October 28,[masked]am-6pm Grand Traverse Mall 3200 South Airport Road West Traverse City, MI Inspired by the DETROIT FESTIVAL OF BOOKS (aka: Detroit Bookfest), the Grand Traverse area now has a Grand Traverse Festival of Books! Celebrating all things Bookish – this even…

Check out this Meetup →

 

If you attend any of these events, make sure you tell us about them by commenting on this article! we’d love to hear all about it!

Have a great October everyone!

 

August Events

July has ended, which means that it’s time for a new events article! If you’re bored or just looking for some inspiration to get started writing again, these 10 FREE events in Michigan are perfect for you! The events picked each month cover a variety of different topics, all centered around writing! From book clubs to writing workshops, author meet-and-greets,  book signings, and much more, you’ll always find something interesting to do!

August 4th – Goodrich – Local Authors Tent

A variety of local authors will be available for discussions, book signings, and questions. This is also a family friendly event! Definitely a great day trip to take with the family!   Visit their Facebook page for more information!

https://m.facebook.com/events/460588177722160/?utm_source=booksigningevent.com&utm_medium=content

August 7th – Nagaunee – Sunburns to Snowstorms: Upper Michigan Weather in Pictures and Stories

The Michigan Iron Industry Museum presents meteorologist Karl Bohnak and photographer and photo collector Jack Deo. They will be discussing their new book, and will be available to sign copies after their presentation. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn about an interesting topic! Visit the website below for more info!

https://www.michigan.org/event/sunburns-snowstorms-upper-michigan-weather-pictures-and-stories

August 9th – Escanaba – Local Author Fair

Local authors from Escanaba gather to take part in this Author Fair! The festivities include complimentary concessions, meet-and-greets with the authors, and book signings! Click on the link below for more information!

Local Author Fair

August 10th – Ann Arbor –  Rhys Bowen & Susan Elia MacNeal

The Ann Arbor District Library is holding an interview with Rhys Bowen and Susan Ella MacNeal about their latest published books! Thsi is sure to be an interesting activity for all book lovers! Visit The Ann Arbor District Library’s website to learn more!

https://aadl.org/node/373384

August 16th – Romeo – Romeo Writer’s Group

A great writing group situated in Romeo, Michigan that encourages and supports writers. Share your writing and listen to others at this month’s meeting! More information is provided through the link!

http://www.myrecordnewspaper.com/?tribe_events=romeo-writers-group-2-2018-08-16&eventDate=2018-08-16

August 18th –  Lansing – “Dyed in the Wool” Book Signing 

Dr. Linda Lee Tarver’s book, “Dyed in the Wool” is a bestseller on Amazon, and she will be holding a book signing at The Barnes and Nobles book store at The Lansing Mall! Don’t miss this chance to meet her! Click the link for more info!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dyed-in-the-wool-book-signing-tickets-48506534350

August 21st – Rochester Hills – Freelance Marketplace Writers’ Group

While most writing groups focus on writing skills and critiquing  their fellow writers work, this group is all about the business side of being a writer. Perfect for writers interested in getting published, thinking about self-publishing, and being a professional writer in general! Don’t miss out on learning some very valuable information! Check out the link for more details!

Freelance Marketplace Writers’ Group

Tuesday, Aug 21, 2018, 7:30 PM

Barnes & Noble
2800 S Rochester Rd Rochester Hills, MI

2 Rochester Writers Attending

This Rochester based group is open to all new, working, and published writers, photographers, and illustrators. All genres welcome and free to attend. We are NOT a critique group – we discuss the business of writing. We meet the third Tuesday of the month* – come once, once in a while, or every time – hope you can join us.Our meeting could be anyw…

Check out this Meetup →

 

August 22nd – Muskegon – Left to Write – Creative Writing Group

Open to writers of all ages, this writing group focuses on making connections to other writers and using writing exercises to help facilitate growth! A perfect group for any writer to join! Don’t miss it! More information provided through the link!

https://www.hackleylibrary.org/events/locally-hosted-events/hpl/32280-left-to-write-2

August 23rd – Kalamazoo – RAWK READS: Summer Writing Students Read Selected Work

A great event that supports young writers! Come and listen to the participating students read their works and celebrate the wonders of writing! Definitely an event you don’t want to miss! Check out the link for more info!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rawk-reads-summer-writing-students-read-selected-work-tickets-48237928944

August 28th – Ferndale – Book Club: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

A book club that focuses on personal growth through reading. Their book this month is ‘All the Ugly and Wonderful Things’ by Bryn Greenwood! Don’t forget to read it before attending the meeting! Check out the link below!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/book-club-all-the-ugly-and-wonderful-things-tickets-48316099755

There are some amazing events this month! Don’t forget to tag us when you tell everyone what an awesome time you had! Have a great August everybody!

 

 

 

July Events

Looking for something to do this July? Well you’re in luck—here’s a list of 10 events in Michigan that every writer should try to attend this month! These events vary from book fests, to author meet and greets, book signings, and even some writer’s clubs that you might not have known about near you! If you’re worrying about the price tag that most writing events have, don’t fret, all ten of these events are free to attend!

July 11th – Kinsley – You are Never too Old to Dream
This is an author visit featuring Evelyn Harper, who shares her experience of becoming a published author in her later years, a truly inspiring story. Click the link for more information!
https://www.tadl.org/event/you-are-never-too-old-to-dream/

July 12th – Kalamazoo – Author visit with Lisa Jenn Bigelow
A meet and greet with author Lisa Jenn Bigelow, who is releasing her new book, “Drum Roll, Please.” Don’t miss this opportunity to meet her!
https://www.bookbugkalamazoo.com/event/lisa-jenn-bigelow-presents-drum-roll-please

July 14th – Southfield – Book Signing; “This is Kindness”
Meet Richard Patterson, check out his new book, “This is Kindness,” and get your copy signed! See the link for more information!
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/book-signing-this-is-the-kindness-tickets-46159890475?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

July 15th – Detroit – Bookfest
Detroit’s 2nd annual festival of books! With tons of book vendors, food, and free Wi-Fi, how can you say no? An amazing event to connect with others who love reading and writing just as much as you!
http://detroitbookfest.com/event-details-facts/

July 16th – Ann Arbor – Lillian Li on Publishing Your First Novel
Lillian Li presents her experience with all the ups and downs of writing, editing, and publishing her book, “Number One Chinese Restaurant.” Find out more through the link!
https://www.meetup.com/Write-On-Ann-Arbor/events/251263341/

July 17th – Bay City – Creative Writing Workshop
Strengthen your writing using prompts and conversing with others! See The Bay Community Writing Center’s website for more information and events!
http://baycommunitywc.weebly.com/

July 18th – Dearborn – Author Talk by Suzanne Dalton
Dearborn local author Suzanne Dalton speaks about her book, “A Year Lost, a Life Gained: Fighting Breast Cancer with Wit, Humor, Friends, and a Perky Poodle.” More details through the link!
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/author-talk-by-suzanne-dalton-tickets-47125653097?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

July 25th – Battle Creek – Battle Creek’s Writer’s Block
Have your writing critiqued and discuss a variety of topics at this writing group! Click the link for more info!
https://www.meetup.com/Battle-Creek-Writers-Block-Meetup/events/252163545/

July 26th – Royal Oak – Book and Bottle Club
Looking for something different? Then maybe you should look into this book club! Besides, what goes better than books and wine? Find out more through the link!
http://detroit.carpediem.cd/events/6867846-book-bottle-club-royal-oak-at-michigan-by-the-bottle-tasting-room-royal-oak/

July 28th – Detroit – Writing Workshop Series
A great opportunity for all ages to improve their writing skills! For more information, check out their allevents.in post below!
https://allevents.in/michigan/writers-workshop/20002505899828

Don’t forget to tag us when you tell everyone what an awesome time you had! Didn’t see an event you know about near you? Comment and let us know about it! Have a great July everyone!