For Domestic Violence Awareness Month and beyond, listen to survivors when we tell you what we need.

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Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Six years ago, I was a huge supporter of the people coming forward to share their abuse stories, via social media and the hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft, both because I feel it’s important to open a dialogue about the dynamics of abusive relationships, and because it gave public voice to victims and survivors who, in addition to being abused, have been silenced. …


The act and process of writing has well-documented mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health benefits — if we can keep it up.

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Image by DarkmoonArt_de from Pixabay

The idea that writing could be a healing practice is one that academia and the mainstream literary community often overlook or dismiss.

Writers understandably want their work to be of value to others, not just to themselves. You might hear a -bestselling author insist that her writing is “serious,” not self-help. A college professor might urge his students to move beyond writing that is “purely therapeutic.” In their respective fields, the emphasis of the writing is a polished, finished product, without much focus on the process.

But the pursuit of wellness is all about process. The Oxford Dictionary defines wellness as “the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.” The active pursuit of health can and probably should include a slew of practices, from proper diet and exercise to getting enough sleep, seeing one’s healthcare provider on a regular basis, and treating existing conditions. …


‘Why don’t you just shut up, man?’ might actually be good advice for all of us.

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Photo by June Liu on Unsplash

It is past time to apply the basic tenets of a healthy relationship to our sociopolitical conversations.

In a relationship, when one person raises their voice and plugs their ears, they shift the balance. The process of reestablishing balance is stuck; one or more partners might be traumatized. Healing starts with remembering what makes a good union in the first place.

If America is our collective relationship, some of our “partners” are either ready to walk, or are actively driving the other partner(s) away.

The vitriol may have started about candidates, parties, or politics; but now, on both sides of the gaping divide in this country, is the complete inability or unwillingness of many of its citizens to listen to, let alone adopt, a viewpoint other than their own. …


Being a mom can be horrifying and humbling — sometimes both at once.

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Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash

I feel like someone who flirts with her own breaking point on a daily basis, but few things threaten my sanity more than when my son is in pain.

When he was 4, my indefatigable and fearless kiddo launched himself off the couch in defiance of gravity and growth plates and my raised-voice warnings, and I heard easily the most stomach-turning sound I’ve ever heard in my life: the sound of my boy’s body breaking under his own weight.

I’ve been through some hospital stuff with Jax before. His hurricane early birth and 87 days in NICU. Chronic lung disease, a “normal” complication of prematurity. Surgery to bring down an undescended testicle. …


How to find the audience that makes sharing your writing an experience of growth, not stress.

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Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

When you think of tips or advice for writers, what comes to mind probably concerns the writing itself.

I direct a school, a center, for writing. Of course, we want to help you write more, and write better. I have said before, though, that what sets us apart from other writing organizations is our focus on creativity. Still, the moments of creative inspiration happen before and during the writing process, and the bulk of writing advice in the world is about that process.

But what about when the writing is finished? For some writers, the easy part is getting the words down. The challenging and even scary part might be showing them to someone. If writing comes naturally most of the time, but sharing your writing makes you anxious, this post is for you. …


Assert your mental, physical, and community presence with these tips for thoughtful self-expression.

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Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

When I teach those who aspire to write, I place a heavy emphasis on not only improving their writing skills but establishing a regular writing practice. I tell them, “I can help you become a better writer, but I can also put you in touch with the part of you that so that you will

You can do this for yourself, too. It starts by taking up more space — your space — in the world.

Think of a pre-COVID crowded subway car or city bus, people packed to the walls. Every seat is full. Passengers who previously stretched their legs and rested briefcases and shopping totes on the empty seats beside them have moved their bags to their laps so others can sit. New passengers shuffle down the aisles, craning their necks in hopes of finding a place to take a load off. They resign themselves to standing, clutching the overhead or side handrails as the car zooms or the bus lurches forward again. The air is close, hot. The mood is a little tense; everyone is uncomfortable, and even one or two more people will make it worse. …


What do we mean when we talk about voice? How to define, develop, and not be afraid to use yours.

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Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

For many of us, just getting words down on a regular basis is a huge accomplishment. Generating story ideas and developing them is the bulk of our writing practice.

So when aspiring writers hear vague, jargon-y terms like “voice,” it might instill some trepidation. You might think you know what it means, but can’t quite put it into words. What the heck is a writing “voice”?

Or you know what it means, but have no idea whether you are writing in a consistent voice or not, let alone whether your voice appeals to readers: I hope people “get” me. …


Sometimes the best way to accomplish something is by doing nothing.

Tidy desk featuring laptop and large monitor with vibrant screen savers, pen jar, and framed print of inspirational words
Tidy desk featuring laptop and large monitor with vibrant screen savers, pen jar, and framed print of inspirational words
Photo by Matt Pike on Unsplash

This is not going to be your typical writing advice or productivity post.

I have not encountered a single person since the start of this pandemic that has not expressed feeling overwhelm at some point over the last few months. We worked, or we didn’t. We home-schooled kids, or we didn’t. We cared for others, or we didn’t. Whether the pandemic added exponentially to our daily workloads or stripped them down to an emptiness we had never before experienced, things changed overnight. …


Stop wondering what makes your favorite stories so memorable — and how you can spin memorable tales yourself — and start making lasting connections.

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

These are unforgettable stories.

They are the stories we pass on to our children, or revisit over and over again, enjoying new insights at different stages of our lives. They are the movies we rewatch, the characters we adore, that one chapter or scene that moves us to tears every time.

Have you ever considered what specifically makes those stories so memorable?

The stories that stay with us are the ones that made us feel connected to something or someone. Be it the main character, the setting, the plot, the theme, or some other element, the authors of memorable tales captivated us. The stories in the list above present new and magical worlds, render strong emotion and passion, impart messages warm and dire. The connection we felt to the story remained once we finished reading. …


A vibrant writing life is a balancing act requiring self-awareness and a solid plan of action.

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Photo by Form on Unsplash

Ten years ago, my writing WAS my life.

Fresh out of graduate school, I was used to being immersed in books, magazines, literary websites and blogs, and my own editorial work with the online journal I edited, the university where I worked, and the small press I co-founded. When I wasn’t actually writing, I was reading poetry submissions and assembling chapbooks in my living room. I was submitting my writing to publications, giving readings, travelling to conferences, and communing regularly with other writers.

At the time, I rented an apartment and did not have children. My income was modest, but I could save up to travel and pay the occasional writing contest submission fee. The real privilege, though, was that I didn’t have to prioritize writing in my life because it was already front and centre. …

About

Stacia M. Fleegal

Widely published poet/essayist on writing, reading, creativity, mindfulness, survival, and more. Director, creativewritingcenter.com. Top writer: Inspiration.

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