Writing Tips

The Budget-Friendly, Mostly-At-Home MFA

March 21, 2013

I would love to complete a MFA (Master of Fine Arts).

I’ve heard both the good and the bad about aspiring writers pursuing an MFA, but that hasn’t dissuaded me. What has dissuaded me is the cost and the time.

I was recently chatting with a writing friend who is working away at her MFA. I was lamenting about how now is not a good time for me to complete an MFA, and she gave me a great idea: “Why not do your own mini, mostly-at-home MFA for a fraction of the price?”

I’ve created a budget-friendly, mostly-at-home MFA program below. Of course this is no substitute for the real thing, but I hope this pared down MFA is useful those of us who can’t complete an actual MFA just now, or those who don’t plan on completing an MFA but want to continue improving their writing career.

Continue Reading…

Social Media

Is Social Media Mandatory for Writers?

January 24, 2013
Tall trees in a dark forest

While reading a recent blog post by Penelope Trunk, I found my way to this article from Forbes: 3 Reasons You Should Quit Social Media in 2013. It was a relief.

Here’s my dirty secret: I’ve wanted to quit social media for months.

I’ve been thinking lately about the value of social media for writers. Is the return really worth the time you take away from your writing? For new, non-agented writers (like myself), is it worth focusing on social media to build a platform, or should you just be focusing all of your energy on becoming a better writer?

It seems Twitter, Facebook and blogs have become mandatory in the ‘getting published’ process. When I talk to new writers, they are usually trying to learn to write, learn to tweet, learn to set up a Facebook fan page and produce amazing blog posts that get hundreds of views. Oh, and get published.

Continue Reading…

News & Updates

Why I Stopped Journaling

December 5, 2012
Open notebook on wooden table with coffe mug

I started writing in a journal when I was in grade 3. One of my teachers took my parents aside on parent-teacher night and suggested that they get me a notebook so I could write my ideas down. I think this came about because I wasn’t paying attention in math class, but it in hindsight it was likely one of the events that lead me to writing.

I journaled daily for years — until my mid-twenties, in fact. I have boxes full of journals of all shapes and sizes stored in a basement somewhere. There are the pink, sparkly ones of high school days, filled with “I love so-and-so’s,” and lots of stickers, the angsty tirades of my early 20s, the day-to-day scribbles of my early 30s. I reduced my journaling to a few times a week as I grew older, and recently, I stopped.

Continue Reading…

News & Updates

5 Reasons to Attend the When Words Collide Conference

August 4, 2012
Grass in a field with fading light

What’s the best way to get 3 full days of advice on writing, publishing and promoting for $65? Attend the When Words Collide Conference for writers and readers in Calgary, Alberta!

I attended When Words Collide (WWC for short) last year. It was my first-ever writers’ conference, and I was nervous, awkward and unsure right up until the day I arrived. I had a million newbie questions like:

  • What do people wear to writing conferences? (Answer – Really whatever you want as long as your undies aren’t showing.)
  • Should I bring a book? (Answer – Maybe, but at WWC there’s not much time for reading.)
  • What should I say to Jack Whyte, one of my favourite authors who was at the conference? (Answer – “Hello I love your books,” seemed to work just fine.)

Thankfully all my fears were squashed as soon as I arrived and I was greeted by friendly people (like Randy McCharles, the conference organizer) and began attending sessions. Lots and lots of sessions.

Continue Reading…