How I learned to write without shame or discipline

Eleanor Davis — Resolutions

I am not a disciplined person, but for many years I’ve tried to be.

I’ve read about healthy habits, about making them, breaking them, assessing how your current habits affect your mood and time and energy, and how better habits can change your life.

At the forefront of habits I’ve tried to cultivate is one that most writers strive for: to write every day.

To encourage this habit, I’ve tried journaling, keeping charts, scheduling rewards, setting daily goals, writing groups, engaging with my fears, positive self-talk…. In short, I’ve tried most things.

While I know these strategies have worked for…

On the literature of motherhood

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Always, I’ve depended on books to make sense of the world for me. I was the shy kid buried in a novel by the window while others played outside. The kid that got in trouble for holding a book just so under the table—one more chapter to go—at dinner time. I read by the light of street lamps long into the night, so that the geographies of what I’d read and what I dreamt intermingled.

My books earned their place of high esteem. Reliable, they were always there when I needed them, ready to offer me their wisdom. An immigrant…

5 resources that get you published

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As if writing, editing, and mustering up the courage to send your work out into the world weren’t hard enough, you then also have to figure out precisely where to send it, and when, and how. The sheer number of options can be paralyzing. Luckily, some generous, organized, and overall heroic folk have taken it upon themselves to restore order to our world. Here are some of the tools they’ve come up with (in no particular order).

1. Duotrope

From their website:

Duotrope is a subscription-based service for writers and artists that offers an extensive, searchable database of current fiction, poetry, nonfiction…

I have a Ph.D. in English and I’m only now learning how to read with “a writer’s eyes”

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I recently went to a talk in which Julia Alvarez described the first book she fell in love with 1,001 Arabian Nights. As a child, she read its pages over and over. She read them so often, she said, that “these stories joined the bloodstream of [her] imagination.”

It struck me that this is precisely how I feel about the books that I love. Even when I can’t remember the words or phrases I loved, the images they engendered linger in my mind long after I’ve put the book down.

It’s safe to say that this is how a lot…

One hour after the fact. Am I nauseous? I think I’m nauseous.

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Who’s going to watch my toddler while I give birth to this baby? Do I need to make sure they’re available? Do I need to call them now? Do I need to call them RIGHT now?

Slow down, it’s not safe to think too far ahead for a few more months. Just breathe and slow down.

What if they have plans already? Do people make plans eight months ahead of time?

Is this what this belly is? Google: “How early do you start showing on your second pregnancy?” Thank god. I thought I was going to have to go on…

How to write through the dry spells

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It’s been over a year since I completely changed my writing practice for the better. For nearly a decade — all the way through an English Ph.D. program — I struggled to establish a writing routine. Above all else, I wanted to be orderly and disciplined. I failed again and again to make this routine work.

It was only after I embraced a writing ethic that was unruly, like me, that things changed. I crafted a writing plan that was right for me, flaws and all. …

Find the time, energy, and focus to jumpstart start your daily habit

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There are so many touted benefits to reading daily that it feels unnecesary to repeat them here. We all know we should be reading more—what holds us back is the notion that we just don’t have the time, or the energy, or the focus to read as much as we think we should.

I’ve always loved reading, and I have a PhD in English to prove it. Still, reading every day is a habit I’ve had to cultivate.

At times I’ve thought I’m just too busy right now, or I’m just too tired. Sometimes it just feels easier to plop…

How things went wrong, and how I fixed it

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I started writing morning pages after hearing friends rave about them for years. The idea for “morning pages” comes from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, which some refer to as the creative person’s bible.

“Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness…. They might also, more ingloriously, be called brain dump, since that is one of their main functions.”

Cameron considers them one of two basic, essential tools (the other are “artist dates”) to unblock creativity. In the 12-week guide, morning pages arrive in the preamble—they are indispensable.

Once I finally got my copy of…

What writing did for me, and why I’m afraid of losing it

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Motherhood changed the way I write, but more importantly my writing has changed me as a mother. Now, it might be time to embrace change all over again.

I recently wrote about how I’ve finally managed a daily writing habit after many years of trying. In the weeks and months since, I’ve protected this habit like something small and easily crushed.

I know how much it cost me to get here, and now that I’ve arrived, I don’t ever want to leave.

Part of the impetus that pushed me, finally, to confront the narrative I’d been telling myself (that I’m…


Writer | English PhD | Reflecting on writing, motherhood, contemporary reads, and undocumented stories

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