Sunday, February 22, 2009

Winter Weary Wake-Ups

By Lisa Lopez Snyder

Need some fresh inspiration? Need a break from the winter blues?

With a simple click of the mouse, you can be connected to local literary events, hear and watch your favorite authors speak about the writing process, and much more.

Here’s some local stuff to get you off your duff:

• 13th Annual SC Book Festival: Come celebrate the book! Mark your calendar for this annual free -- yes free -- event, Feb. 27 – Mar. 1. Funded by the Humanities Council and the SC Center for the Book, this year’s festival features author Scott Turow (Presumed Innocent) as keynote speaker on Sunday. Special recognitions include Braille Literacy Awareness, the Edgar Allan Poe Bicentennial, the Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings papers, and the 2009 Poetry Out Loud Contest. The C-Span Book TV Bus will once again be in the exhibit hall. Friday is the only day with fees for events, which include classes (register online), book appraisals and an opening night reception. See the full schedule at Check it out!

• South Carolina Arts Commission: This group hosts the annual SC Fiction Project, among myriad other programs and events, including grants. To subscribe to the free Literary Arts Bulletin, email: or visit

• Fellow SCWW member C. Hope Clark writes this phenomenally smart, easy-to-use online writer resource. You’d be nuts not to subscribe to at least one of her free weekly e-newsletters, where there’s something for everyone—grants, contests, markets. Get busy!

Hear, read or watch your favorite authors talk about their craft:

• Barnes & Noble Studio: Audio & video interviews w/authors at

• Written interviews with authors at

• More written interviews with authors, at

• The Book Beast: The ever revolutionary and former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown offers this site – musings on must-reads and new-reads -- on her new Internet venture, The Daily Beast.

Hope these bring cheer to your winter writing!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Perfect Time to Write

By Brian Butler

Authors often ask each other what time of day they find the most productive to write. The answers always vary from early morning hours to after I’ve had at least three stiff drinks, following Hemingway’s logic—write drunk, edit sober.

I’ve never asked that question because to me, it is a personal preference. It has nothing to do with the time of day but everything to do with your state of mind.

For example, I am more productive in the mid-morning hours. I find it easier to write before becoming completely active and awake, helping me concentrate my focus on the topic at hand. Being a night owl at heart, I’m not very lively in the morning. After I do wake, I just do not feel much like conversing with anyone and would rather write. All the jumbled thoughts from the day before have settled into place and I am more at peace, until I’m interrupted. Sometimes I go for hours before that happens and sometimes it’s only a matter of minutes. If it’s the latter, I then struggle through the rest of the day trying to squeeze in time to get my thoughts down before they’re tossed into the air and jumbled once again. Many times this circus runs well into the evening, at which point I am much more awake and therefore, less focused and less productive. When I get too far along into the day, I find other obligations that begin to fight for time and brain space in an already clouded head, thereby leaving less grey matter for creativity.

But that’s me.

The idea that there is a more perfect time for you to write than any another really cannot be decided by anyone but you. It depends on the type of person you are. Pay attention to the points of the day (or night) when you feel everything falling into place, when your head is free of its obligations and able to drift. With any luck, this will coincide with a time when you can focus those thoughts onto nothing but your story… and that will be your perfect time to write.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Where I Do Most of My Writing

Last week the Columbia II Writers Workshop group met for a social evening. It is our custom to devise some sort of game that involves our writings. On this night we were given two writing assignments to be submitted anonymously. The pieces were read aloud, and then we tried to match the written word with the writer. What follows is one member's descriptive submission "of the room where you're sitting."

By Mike Long

I’m normally at the breakfast table, when I’m composing. To my left is a bay window overlooking the deck, the backyard, and some of the lake. To my left front is the Florida room and to the right front is the den. The den wall facing me is composed of bookcases bracketing our fireplace, above which is an oil portrait of my father in his pilot’s uniform, painted by his father. Behind me is the kitchen.

I know this because I just sat in my chair and looked around. When I’m composing I seldom look up. When I do, I’m seeing my characters in action, hearing their conversation, and trying to take in their surroundings rather than mine.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Find Inspiration to Write Outside of the Box

By DiAna DiAna

I suggest leaving the country, or at least the state, to discover something new—something that inspires you and peaks your interest. When you travel to new places you're forced to look around you, and with a little research you can learn about your new area and create a story about what you see, or don't see.

Many people will only write about their own town, or state and the things that happen there. Although there is nothing wrong with that, imagine the adventure of exposing yourself to something new. It doesn't have to be dangerous, just interesting.

Just getting a passport can be an adventure. Researching destinations is also an adventure. An example of something that I did that I may write about one day is my first and only, I hope, shark dive—including what led up to the trip, the island I was on, the people I was diving with, and how it felt when over forty sharks surrounded me. I'll make sure to include the part where a tiny fish bit my friend's ear, and I watched the blood flow, which incidentally looks green at forty feet below.

My story could go many places, but first I had to get off the couch and experience life. Your story could make a difference to others whether it's written as fact or fiction.

I've met so many people who have never ventured far from home and haven't explored other cultures. They miss so much. So, if you do decide to travel, share what you see, share your stories so others may learn along with you and so you experience it all over again in the telling.