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Sign up for the Fall Writing Reboot

For many years, September has been a productive writing time for me. It may be that way for you too. Vacations end, school is back in session, and the desire to start something new or breathe life into old creative projects is strong.

Of course, everything is different this year. If your plans to write fell by the wayside over the last few months, you’re not alone. With altered workspaces and up-in-the-air schedules, finding time to write can feel impossible.

Yet, there is something about fall that inspires a reset, a call to action. In Paris, where I lived for the past two years, the return to school and work in the fall is known as the rentree. Parisians celebrate the official end of summer vacation with huge office parties and a flurry of focused activity. Although the parties will be subdued this year, many of us are attempting to return to familiar routines. …


The Surprising Power of Uncertainty, Solitude, and the Ticking Clock

Over the course of a 20-year writing career, I’ve learned a few things about the daily habits that result in published books and continued creativity. The habits that form a strong foundation for a writing life have little to do with networking and speed-writing, much to do with solitude and consistency.

If you make room in your days for these five habits, you will vastly increase your chances of publishing your first book and maintaining a writing career for the long haul. (You can read the longer version of this post on Medium.)

No matter how much you’ve written, how much you’ve studied writing, how much you’ve read, you can always learn more. For me, learning means reading a novel, listening to an interview with a writer I admire, reading an essay about another artistic field, or analyzing a book, movie, or photograph to see what I can learn from it. …


Embracing Uncertainty, Solitude, and the Ticking Clock

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Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

I’ve been writing seriously for more than half of my life, and writing for the love of it ever since I could pick up a crayon and write two-word stories about my dog, a champagne cocker spaniel named Muffin who caused a great stir by biting a neighbor child beside our above-ground pool in Theodore, Alabama. Of course, my story contained none of those details. “Muffin bites” was the extent of it, although I did not quite get the spelling right. Muffun bits, I wrote. It was not an elegant beginning, but it was a beginning nonetheless.

I was not one of those wunderkinds who was reading at three years old and styling perfect cursive letters at five. The first novel that blew me away crossed my path in middle school, suggested by the school librarian at Julius T. Wright School for Girls in Mobile, Alabama — Mrs. Mike by Nancy and Benedict Freedman. It involved a city girl who went to the frontier to be a wife, meeting much hardship and misfortune. At the end, I sobbed, in the cathartic way 11-year-old girls sometimes need to sob, perhaps recognizing in Mrs. Mike the loneliness I felt on that beautiful campus where I did not belong, where girls with family and fatherly names as first names (Greer, Gus) exchanged their uniforms on weekends for Izod belts and Guess jeans and blouses from the Esprit catalogue, while I pretended my clothes were not homemade. Julius T. Wright was not the frontier, but it felt foreign and dangerous, and that was my first introduction to the idea of universality in literature. …

About

Michelle Richmond

NYT bestselling author of the THE MARRIAGE PACT and THE YEAR OF FOG. Caffeinated in Cali. Books at michellerichmond.com Write with me at https://thenewMFA.com

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