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The Writer

The Writer December 2020

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Since 1887 The Writer has provided the motivation, writing techniques, expert tips and compelling author insights that turn good writing into great writing. We’ll help you become a better writer, find markets for your work, understand the business of writing, follow industry news and trends, reach your goals, and more!

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United States
Madavor Media, LLC
12 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
ear to the ground

Authors frequently encourage writers to put pen to paper every single day. While I certainly understand the sentiment – no book was ever magicked into existence without an abundance of butt-in-chair time on the author’s part – sometimes I worry that it puts too much pressure on the act of creation and not enough on the act of absorption. I’m far from the first to compare writers to sponges, soaking in our surroundings to later wring art from our stores. But as the first long winter of the pandemic approaches for many of us, I fear some have precious little to wring. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of being stretched too thin, with too many obligations drawing time and attention away from our art, and I feel such deep sympathy for…

1 min.
this month on writermag.com

Our fall short story contest is here! Have you got a short story idea that’s begging to be told? Do you also need a little motivation to sit down and write it? Enter it into our fall short story contest! 2,000 words could net you $1,000 and publication in our magazine. Learn more at writermag.com/contests. Festive writing prompts Celebrate the season with brand-new holiday-themed writing exercises posted frequently to our website. Bookmark writermag.com/writing-inspiration/writing-prompts to ensure you never miss a single exercise. Digital education guide Did you know our MFA guide on page 38 is also available as a PDF? If you’d prefer to have a digital copy on hand as you start your search, you can find our newly updated education guide on our website. STAY IN TOUCH Put our free e-mail newsletter to work: Check out…

3 min.
2020 holiday gift guide

Gift-giving is difficult enough without adding a global pandemic to the holiday mix. Experiences, long touted as one of the most meaningful gifts a loved one can receive, are mostly off the table in an age of social distancing. So, what do we give the trapped-at-home writers in our lives? How can we make a long, dark winter inside a little brighter? Here are 10 ideas for the beloved writer in your life – or, hell, for yourself. We think Santa would approve. 1. JANE AUSTEN TEAPOT This handmade six-cup teapot features a colorful row of Jane Austen’s novels, with a scene from Pride and Prejudice splayed in the book on top. (A one-cup version is also available.) $100 for six-cup, $45 for one-cup; janeausten.co.uk 2. LIBRO.FM GIFT MEMBERSHIPS Perfect for the audiobook lover in your…

2 min.
trim the tree

1. FESTIVE PUNCTUATION MARKS This set of three red, white, and green glittery punctuation marks includes a question mark, an exclamation point, and an ampersand. $10 for 3, etsy.com/shop/atomicenterprises 2. A VERY MERRY COMIC-BOOK CHRISTMAS At this Etsy shop, merrymakers can choose ornaments made from either traditional black-and-white pages or DC comic books. $15.50, etsy.com/shop/capekraken 3. BOOK BULBS These recycled book globe ornaments trade traditional silvered cap-and-hook fixtures for more earthy hemp string. $14, etsy.com/shop/roottovine 4. TONI MORRISON SILHOUETTE “Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names,” reads the Toni Morrison quote lasercut on this cherry wood ornament. $10, etsy.com/shop/pigseyart 5. AUTHOR PORTRAITS Deck the halls this year with portraits of Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou, Jack Kerouac, and more. $30, etsy.com/shop/poetryportraitsgifts “Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and…

5 min.
stick a fork in it

My family has had, until very recently, this very odd vision of what it means to be a writer. It involves bonbons, pajamas all day, siestas. Probably a fainting couch. Now, listen. I would love a fainting couch, but that is not in the cards. Writing is one of the most brain-intensive things I can think of doing with my day. The tasks at hand are varied: We might be querying new work; trying to sketch out a new essay; working on a different form, or revising. But regardless of what it is a writer is doing, it all still takes deep mental work. Even reading is rarely reading “just for pleasure” if you’re a writer. Some part of your head is always learning. Getting rejected time and again; continuously adding…

5 min.
book it!

This month, my first book, From Hang Time to Prime Time, comes out. I had dreamt of writing a book in the way some folks dream of traveling to the moon or winning Powerball. It would be nice to be in that position, sure, but getting there seemed incomprehensible, too foolish to consider. Yet here I am. And you can be here, too. Really. Now that I have some distance, I can see that writing this book was a lot like pitching an article. The difference: It took a lot more time – seven years – to go from hazy idea to tangible object. This is how I did it. I found a larger theme in a smaller story. In February 2013, I wrote a feature on Marvin Gaye’s rendition of the national…