A while back, we decided to try something new. Monthly contests inspired by writing prompts, calling for submissions of under 1,000 words.
The Monthly Muse ran for four months and inspired more than 500 new works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The quality of submissions was strikingly high, and we were thrilled to name 40 Finalists and publish 24 Prize Winners.
Each winner received a specially curated Enigma Prize and publication on our website. The entire collection, Musepaper, Volume 1, will be available in print on August 20, 2019. The collection is brilliant, funny, and deep, each work a beautiful little masterpiece.
That all of this creative genius was inspired by writing prompts is incredible. It’s a testament to the possibilities of spontaneous writing, the gift of deadlines, and the artistry that can be unleashed when we dare to reach and write outside our comfort zones. Those realizations, along with the support, feedback, and participation of our writing community, inspired us to create this new incarnation: Musepaper.
We want to give a high-five and a huge hug to everyone who answered our call, showed up, and put forth their best work. This isn’t a zero sum game. Together, we did something really special.
Now let’s do it again.
P.S. The collective evolution has begun! The final cover design of Musepaper, Volume I (August 2019) is in the hands of our new Members. There are three striking designs to choose from. Subscribe today and you help shape Musepaper’s evolution from the very start.
We’ve spent a quarter of a century awarding and publishing writers, and we asked each one for their best writing advice. Nearly all of them center on one truth: Writers — the successful ones — write.
But like most secrets to success, the magic lies in the execution.
- Embrace the gift of deadlines
- Stretch beyond your comfort zones
- Release your work
Encourage and strengthen your unique writing voice, expand and hone it continuously, and release it time and again.
Wake up. Sit down. Write 1,000 words. It's the best advice I have, and it's exactly what I plan on doing someday.
The best stories I've ever read all have one thing in common. The author finished them. Starting things are fun! Like dating. Who doesn't like those first three dates. Especially date number 3! That's the best! Starting a story is like that. But by page 8, it's time to meet his parents, or you're forcing yourself to binge watch Dr. Who...
You're a writer. You know what I'm talking about!
My writing advice is to be wary of advice, of the magic formula...
Ultimately, there's no way around putting in the time, digging in...and to ultimately trust in the long game.
Learning how to nurture play and experimentation in my writing has been of great value to me.
As I've grown as a writer and pursued writing professionally, the importance of play took a backseat for a while. I think this happens as part of the process of seeking publication and also in dealing with rejections...even success can end up limiting the risks we take as writers.
Given this, I've made it a goal to constantly remind myself to rejoice in the writing process and to take creative risks that bring me joy as an author.
The way writing happens is by writing, plunking down in your chair and getting words on the page.
Yes, get inspired by being a hungry student: read, take workshops, find a writing group.
Provocative writing prompts help a great deal. I believe in prompts to stir the imagination, stimulate the soul, uncover old longings...Fiction can be quite liberating.
I love the short-short form, its distillation to essence. For me, the paralyzing moment comes when facing the blank page. That's when Natalie Goldberg's mantra ("shitty first drafts")...allows me to get something down on paper. Then I try to follow the work; that is, to listen to the writing to see where it wants to go. Revision provides a welcome doorway to the thoughtful pleasure of language and the luxury of clarifying.
Though the word limits may be daunting, flash fiction forces the prose writer to think like a poet...
The structure of a flash piece jars us out of our lengthy and exhaustive descriptive prose and into a realm where music, rhythm, and wordplay convey our shared human experience...Through its constraints, we are given a freedom that novelists and short-story writers can only dream of...We are free to write openly about those large subjects that most truly convey the human experience.
Today's world is frothing over with creativity. If you do not prepare yourself to think well outside the normal parameters, you will only be rewriting something you can easily find on the Internet. Push yourself beyond the ordinary.
Creative constraints are of great interest to me. I think because I'm suspicious of my own decision-making when crafting poems, I'm drawn to constraints because they give me some third-party tension against which I can compose — or they provide a distraction to kind of shut me up enough to maybe write something worthwhile. I can overwrite in the same way that as a kid I would over-explain if I had done something wrong — that feeds my suspicion that when I'm writing I'm doing something wrong.
Stories are intimate gifts we give to one another and which allow us to cross the otherwise impassable boundaries of space, death, and time.
Common wisdom says that we should write what we know, the implication being that writing comes from our minds and our brains. Yet the pieces I love best, my own and others', are those written not from a place of knowing but of searching and questioning, even of uncertainty. When writing is solely of the intellect it's a dull, lifeless thing, and misguided. Write not so much what your mind comprehends as what your heart seeks.
For me, taking chances is at the core of storytelling — daring to dredge up the fears and vulnerabilities that make us human.
Different people will find that different strategies work for them, so no writing advice can be one-size-fits-all.
However, a writer must write, and that means setting time aside to take that action.
Finding meaning in the struggle to write is intimate, with unexpected influences along the way. Let it be so.
I am interested in exploring the intersection of that which I know and that which I do not, the point at which the horizontal landscape of experience meets the vertical plane of longing, confusion, and mystery.