On Writing

Lisa Birk blogs at www.deaddarlings.com, the site for Everything novel.



Without Geography You're Nowhere: 
Why Setting Matters

29 March 2016

We are awash in narrative. It arrives on every platform in ever-shorter form. (A Little Life not withstanding.) Which has me wondering, who has the time to dwell in a Brontë moor? And what’s the pay off?

Making it Work:
4 Tips for Squeezing Writing between Job, Kids, Life

28 January 2016

Some weeks before my artist friend Vicki Paret’s baby arrived, she stretched nine canvases of equal size. She gridded nine rectangles on each canvas. She worked methodically, left to right, top to bottom. On average, she completed one rectangle every two days. She finished in four months. She is my idol.



When Less Really Is More:
What Comics Can Teach Novelists

6 October 2015

Consider the comic where what’s not on the page is as important as what is. So says comic artist and writer Scott McCloud in his deceptively simple book, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art.

Lessons on Narrative Distance:
What Essays Can Teach Novelists 

10 March 2015

I used to keep a book on my shelf to remind myself how not to write. The book, call it Stricken, consisted of a collection of essays on the author's recent widowhood. She had written it perhaps too soon after her husband's death. It had all the hallmarks...

Pow! Zap!
What Short Stories Can Teach Novelists

27 January 2015

Novels are my second love, the roast beef in my diet. And I relish the meal. But I down short stories like chocolates. For their density. For their Pow! of feeling and their electric insight. 

Scents and Sensibility

23 January 2014

I lost nearly all my sense of smell when I was eight. One day my socks itched and the next day I was allergic to seemingly everything including "all grasses in the world," the grim doctor intoned, putting the kybosh...

How Do You Say Hamburger in Farsi?
What Ad Writers Can Teach Novelists

3 May 2014

Some years ago I taught Communications 201 at Boston University. It was a plum job, as adjunct jobs go, because our students longed to be in the business of writing. They understood, as many students of creative writing do not, that…

Making Lemonade:
Turning Bad Juju into Good Writing

7 July 2015

Bad juju comes to most of us, and sometimes it comes all at once and sometimes it is a staccato of bad news, one thing, another thing, another thing, another.

Dharma Buds:
Revision Road with Buddha and the Gecko

14 November 2014

I have just spent two-and-a-half years revising my novel.* The odds on getting it published feel, well, long. My writer friends (published and in-the-queue) tell horrific tales of editors** who do not buy the manuscript, but offer advice, “What if you told the story through the pet lizard’s point-of-view?” (Tales told by pet dogs being now passé.)

Hacking Camp NaNoWriMo

26 May 2015

Perhaps you have heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Perhaps, you are not snarky and you have not thought derisively, Oh yeah, 30 days to write a novel, that’ll be real high quality. Camp NaNoWriMo is lesser known, less…

Thank You, Junior High

1 July 2014

All my favorite books come from a “deep place of junior high trauma.”* From Harriet the Spy to The Outsiders, right on up through Rick Moody’s Purple America and Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. Picture Olive at eleven. She has huge feet….

RSS Feed

© 2020 by Lisa Birk. 


  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon