You are Your Worst Critic

Valentine Month Editorial
by Deborah Owen
Why does everything you write have to be perfect? Why must you be your own worst critic? You sweat and stew over churning out one typewritten page until the pleasure is gone from that greatest of all gifts – writing.

Why do you write? Is it not for pleasure? Is it not to give voice to that which lies within? Is it not to lather words in and around your soul until they cannot be contained? And thus you ponder, pander and play with characters, disguising in anonymity the events, episodes and people from your own life until the whole bursts forth as a new found infant.

As a new mother labors to bring her baby into the world, you cannot deny that which refuses to leave… the desire to write. Love it. Nurture it. Move it up the line of priorities until you reap the satisfaction that calls to your heart. Learn the trade at  Creative Writing Institute  with a private tutor. Give yourself a Valentine present. You deserve it. Sign up today and start tonight!

Love’s Thy Genre

by Farheen Gani

An imaginary tale that amused classmates. A prize-winning essay. A funny poem. Isn’t this how we fall in love with writing? The love deepens over time. You start dreaming of publishing your own novel. Until you realize, it’s now or never. That’s how Lisa Carter published her first book.

Mrs. Carter is a Southern romance writer, which by her definition includes hospitality, extended family circles and barbeques. When not chasing her muse, she indulges in quilting, teaching and music. In this interview, she talks about the joys and challenges of writing romance…

  1. Why did you choose romance as the main theme of your writing?

I love the process of two people finding each other against the odds and daring to love each other. I fall in love a little bit with each of my characters as their romance unfolds in my story.

  1. While romance is perceived as an easy genre to write, which is the most difficult part about writing it?

The endings are often hard to craft so that the story will not be clichéd, but fresh and satisfying. There is no surprise in romance—readers understand that in the end these characters will be together. That is essential. But the joy and the surprising twists in the journey it takes the characters to reach, this place is the fun part.

  1. Is there anything you do to get in the mood of writing an intense scene?

Music can transport you to the theme or emotional tone of a scene. I always read the scene I wrote the previous day to get myself back in the moment. Taking a walk or doing something that doesn’t require a great deal of focus like housecleaning also helps the stream of my subconscious to flow.

  1. How do you differentiate your central character’s voice from your own?

There are pieces of me in every character I write—the good, the bad, the ugly. But the lead character has a voice of her own, her own back-story, and experiences that are different from me and how I would react to her current situation.

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Carving a Pumpkin is like Writing a Book or a Short Story

Just one more article on fall before we jump into Thanksgiving and Christmas. This one is by by Julie Canfield, a CWI Volunteer.


You’ve got to love fall. The cool temperatures, shorter days, colorful leaves, football, and little kids in costumes.

Carving a pumpkin is so much like writing. Think about it. Before we can carve a pumpkin, we have to pick one. We go to the patch and look at hundreds until we find the perfect one. We take it home, study it, and painstakingly draw the face in pencil. Satisfied with the sketch, we cut the top and scoop out the insides. Next, we carve the face and place a lighted candle inside.

Now think about writing a book or a story. We sit down, ready to write, full of ideas. At last, we choose one. We decide what genre and length we want, and unleash the words, like sketching a face on a pumpkin. Satisfied, we take the next step in editing, which is akin to cutting the lid on the pumpkin. It’s time to scoop it out, inspect it, and scoop some more. At last, we’re ready to polish (carve the face) and submit (light the candle, which scares away the evil spirit of writer’s block).

We writers are in some phase of pumpkin carving every day. We’re always finding ideas, thinking about writing, editing, polishing or submitting, even when we’re not physically working on it.

Carving a pumpkin is tedious, messy, time consuming, and frustrating. It takes energy and thoughtful planning to achieve the face we envision. Writing takes time, too – planning, editing, frustratingly searching for words, sucking our energy, and messing with our minds until we finally give birth to that book or story.

As writers, we are blessed to have the daily chance of finding a pumpkin (story idea) that we can carve (write). The world turns, the seasons move on. Fall changes to winter but we have a way to connect to the wonderful season of autumn whenever we want.

*Julie Canfield is an aspiring writer who currently lives in Richmond, Va. She shares her domicile with her husband, daughter, one cat, and two dogs. She has published short stories and articles on the web and in literary reviews.

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Elements of of Writing
by Pat Decker Nipper, Volunteer Staff

Labor Day is a good day to reinforce your labor of love — that is, your love of writing. Since you’re reading this article, you’re already working in that labor of love, but as you get more experience, you might consider writing to be more love than labor.

METHOD #1: The elements of writing leads to the love of words. The novelist Joseph Conrad was fluent in three languages—his native language, Polish, French (which he spoke without an accent), and English. He wrote in English because he loved the nuances of English words. When you consider the various definitions of a single word, you can understand what he meant.

Take for example the word “joy.” In Roget’s Thesaurus, 19 different words extend the same meaning. In the online version, over 40 synonyms are given. Some of them are: delight, happiness, gladness, exultation…and so forth. The Thesaurus is a valuable tool, but be careful when you use it. Be sure the meaning and interpretation fits your needs.

METHOD #2: Another element of writing is ideas. Everything written comes from one or more ideas. Great fiction revolves around the ideas of possibility. When you get stuck, ask yourself “what if…?” and your mind will plunge into a story.

For example:
* What if General Custer had won the battle at the Little Bighorn?
* What if Custer had become President of the Unite States?
* What if he were the one to assassinate President Lincoln, instead of John Wilkes Booth? How many ways would that change history?

“What if” will give birth to a lot of ideas.

METHOD #3: Clustering is another great element. Start with one word and associate from it. For instance, start with the word water and you might list:

* Boat
* Life preservers
* Paddles
* Canoe
* Accident
* Swimming
* Sharks
* Panic

Clustering is a great way to snare an idea. And yet another method of creation can be triggered by something you’ve read, or experienced.

METHOD #4: Another writing element is to put yourself in someone else’s adventure. For example, if you want to travel in space, imagine yourself as one of the astronauts, or manufacture your own flight to the moon. Colonize the moon. Build a city on Mars. The sky (or space) is literally the limit.

What Lies Ahead?

New poetry courses will debut at Creative Writing Institute this fall. The first will come out within a few weeks and a second one is in the brew, along with two more courses, Advanced Wordsmithing and Journaling.

We’re always open to new ideas. Writing elements are what writers thrive on. What subject would you like to see discussed? Red herrings? Inference? Arcing? Warts? Send your suggestion to

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