Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What Scares You?

by Deren Hansen

It's a scary time to be a writer: it seems the publishing world is full of more tricks than treats these days.

Given tomorrow's celebration of darkness, as a writer, what scares you?

Is it the giant carnivorous commercial publishing behemoths in New York that recently turned the Big 6 into the Big 5?

Is it the relentlessly growing horde of zombie books spawned by authors who rushed to self-publish their still-developing manuscripts?

Is it the ghosts of everyone else in the writing and publishing world who seems to be doing better than you?

Is it the legion of personal demons whisper that you have no talent and conspire to block your feeble efforts to scratch out a few sentences at every turn?

One of the unsung virtues of Halloween is that we have permission for one night to bring our fears into the light. And perhaps, by doing so, we may be able to transcend them when the light of a new day dawns.

So, writers, what scares you?

Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. This article is from Sustainable Creativity: How to Enjoy a Committed, Long-term Relationship with your Muse. Learn more at

Monday, October 28, 2013

NaNo Success Tip for the Desperate

By Julie Daines

We are in the final countdown to NaNoWriMo. If you don't have your story mapped out in a 25,000 word detailed outline--it's probably too late now. Never fear! I'm going to give you a trick on how to succeed at NaNo anyway.

Daily Five Minute Plotting
As you sit down to begin your daily writing session, take a minimum of five minutes to jot down the basics of whatever needs to come next. Maybe it's a new scene, or some dialogue, or some character development, whatever. Just brain storm and let your creative juices flow.

Use at least five minutes, but you can keep going longer if you're on a roll. This exercise gives you enough direction to make decent progress until your next writing session. It doesn't matter if you end up using what you brainstormed or if your story veers in another direction. Either way, it will help you get going and make better use of your time in the long run.

I'm a pantser. I mean yes, I have a very basic outline (in my head) with the beginning and end and a few pivotal scenes. I know my characters and their objects of desire and their character arc, but that's about it.

Taking the time at the beginning of each writing session to analyze where I am in the story and what needs to come next really helps me get going.

Good luck NaNoers!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

More plotter vs. pantser

A haze has settled in over my writing. Fortunately I think I am about bottoming out. My stories have been lost and I’ve had no idea how to begin to repair them.

But writing won’t leave me alone. I can be stumped and not write much but the mind still works it over, all the time. I am a writer. The best cure therefore is to write everyday, as much as possible, no matter whether I’m stuck or not. Butt in chair mentality. Noting gets accomplished without that and starting somewhere is better than doing nothing.

How best to do that comes back to the old plotter/panster debate. I’ve been a pantser since discovering writing. Being so absorbed with it, I’ve extended the concept to things around the house. My garage, for example. Been meaning to get to it for quite a while. Not only do other things come up that take precedence, but the job seems overwhelming.

The other day, I went out and did my normal. I stood and stared and wondered how to tackle it. Should I just willy nilly start putting tools and sprinkler parts and volleyballs away, or should I plot it out? Maybe I should build a shelf to pack some of that crap away and use the top of it to get me more worktable space. Should I measure out the space and see if the car can fit?

How do I go about organizing my writing clutter in order to get back into a rhythm and proceed with my stories? I’ve spent way too much time researching how to write to the point I don’t know what to do. I’ve got all the travel brochures but not a road map.

Deren’s Wednesday post was wise as it was timely. He said we should consider ourselves architects rather than plotters and gardeners instead of pantsers. He advised we consider both strategies not as an either/or, but as techniques in our writing toolbox.

The real gem of the post was the notion that most creative thought comes from following a strategy unlike one normally pursues. Different is good. I think I’m going to go the architect path for once.

(This article also posted at

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ideas: Think Differently

by Deren Hansen

Like the old beer commercial where people argued whether the best thing about the brew was that it, "tastes great," or that it's, "less filling," writers persist identifying themselves as, "plotters," or "pantsers."

If we must have distinctions, I think, "architect," and, "gardener," respectively are much better labels.

But we'd be even further ahead to view architecture and gardening, not as defining our nature as writers but as techniques in our toolbox that we use--like an artist uses pastels and oils--when appropriate.

I came across evidence, on the PsyBlog, that I'm not entirely out to lunch for thinking such a thing. They describe a study, in a post titled, "Unusual Thinking Styles Increase Creativity," in which people who solved problems "using systematic patterns of thought" (rational) and people who solved problems "by setting the[ir] mind[s] free to explore associations" were asked to change their problem-solving style.
The researchers wondered if people's creativity could be increased by encouraging them to use the pattern of thinking that was most unusual to them. So, those people who naturally preferred to approach creative problems rationally, were asked to think intuitively. And the intuitive group was asked to think rationally for a change.

Participants were given a real-world problem to solve: helping a local business expand. The results were evaluated by managers from the company involved. When they looked at the results, the manipulation had worked: people were more creative when they used the thinking style that was most unusual for them.

One of the reasons this may work is that consciously adopting a different strategy stops your mind going down the same well-travelled paths. We all have habitual ways of approaching problems and while habits are sometimes useful, they can also produce the same results over and over again.
The parallel should be clear: architects (or plotters) prefer to write rationally; gardeners (or pantsers) prefer to write intuitively. You likely feel more comfortable in one mode or the other. But if your deeper goal is to write creatively you would do well to switch up your style.

Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. This article is from Sustainable Creativity: How to Enjoy a Committed, Long-term Relationship with your Muse. Learn more at

Saturday, October 19, 2013


NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and I’m trying not to repeat mistakes made in 2012. 

Last year was my first time with it and I failed miserably. I would write, write, write like mad for three days then run out of story. A few days later I would find it and go great guns until it ran out of steam again. This went on all month. (A year later and I’m still having the same problem with it.)

Writers generally fall into two camps: outliners and non-outliners, the “plotters” or the “pantsers” - those writing by the seat of their pants. I’ve been a pantser all along. With the fits this piece has given, perhaps it’s time look at outlining.

The writing guru I have been interested in lately is KM Weiland. In addition to craft how-to books, she has a great site appropriately titled helping writers become authors

Weiland extols the virtues of outlining. An argument non-outliners use is it stifles creativity, preventing a story from evolving as they write. I know how they feel. I love when the story I’m working on assumes the lead and takes off in directions I hadn’t planned. Weiland argues “a good outline should be the a spur for creativity, not a stumbling block. The author is the master of the outline, not its slave.” She says outlines can encourage creativity, daring experimentation, and focused inspiration. 

Weiland notes the advantages of outlining. Outlines:
-ensure balance and cohesion
-prevent dead-end ideas
-provides foreshadowing -  how can an author foreshadow an event of which she has no idea?
-smooth the pacing
-indicate preferable POV -  allows the author to see which characters’ POV best advances part of the story
-maintain consistent character voice - writing without an outline, the author discovers the character’s voice along with the readers. We should know the voice before we begin.
-offer motivation and assurance - outlines give the assurance that we do indeed have a story to be crafted.

A problem with outlining is the time involved. Weiland averages three months to properly put an outline together. She says she gains it back with less rewrites and time not wasted on aimless rambling down dead end streets. Been there, written like that.

Three months? NaNoWriMo starts in two weeks.

(This article also posted at

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Cool Thousand--THANKS!

Please excuse me for posting twice in one day, but according the Blogger stats, THIS post, this one right here, is our 1000th published post on this blog. A hearty thank you to all of our readers and contributors!

Using Your Other Writing Voice

One of the most valuable tools in your writing arsenal is in your head. No, I'm not talking about your brain, although one of those might be useful too, on occasion.

I'm talking about your mouth, and the writing voice we don't talk about very often.

There are few better ways to find clunky sentences and repeated words and phrases than to read your work aloud, whether in your crit group or on your own. Do you use a character's name too often? You might not notice it on the page, but if you read aloud, that name will hit you like Marvin Suggs' mallet. Reading aloud also helps you find awkward sentences, rhythm issues, and tons of other problems.

It helps if you're reading to somebody else. Reading alone is useful, but something happens to your attention level when you read to another person. Also, the other person can point out words that you read differently than they appear on the page. Often, the word you say aloud is better than the one on the printed page.

Another thing that helps is to listen to it read. When somebody else reads it, you hear it differently. It can be especially useful to use computer software that reads text aloud. The advantage of this approach is that the computer voice reads without inflection or emphasis. The soulless, boring reading voice means that the "reader" does not get caught up in the story, and neither does the listener, so you hear the writing unadorned by story-telling, which can often obscure the actual words.

Whatever approach you take (including multiple approaches), it's a good idea to read in short bursts, and to listen to the words, not so much the story. Remember, the purpose is to find clunky language, not to check the quality of the tale.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ideas: The Hallmarks of a Good Idea

by Deren Hansen

It seems only proper, after encouraging you to distrust your first idea, that we should look into the question of how you know you have a good idea.

Of course, it's not possible to be certain you have a good idea until you test it on others. If it were, we'd have institutions that follow the model of drug companies devoted to finding and exploiting as many good ideas as possible. So the good news is that no one has a monopoly on good ideas. The bad news is that the best we can do is find heuristics to help us sort the good ideas out from the bad.

One of the best heuristics I've found is that good ideas have a longer shelf life or more staying power than mediocre ideas.

I once heard of a couple who didn't buy anything until they'd talked about needing it at least three times.

Similarly, if an idea comes back to you at least three times you may be on to something.

But by, "comes back to you," I mean something more than simply remembering the idea. When John Brown talks about creativity, he emphasizes, "zing." That's John's way of saying the idea gives you an electric shimmer along your spine each time you savor it.

Good ideas are the ones that still deliver that zing when you come back to them the third or fourth time.

Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. This article is from Sustainable Creativity: How to Enjoy a Committed, Long-term Relationship with your Muse. Learn more at

Monday, October 14, 2013

NaNoWriMo--It's All About Fighting the Demon

By Julie Daines

NaNoWriMo may not be for everyone, but personally, I love it. All my published novels are the result of NaNoWriMo disasters.

It's one long month of painful, obsessive, and horrific writing. But in the end, I've got more than just the backbone of a story, I've got a whole manuscript. Then I spend the next year revising and sending it through my crit croup.

Writing a manuscript so quickly allows me to keep the characters consistent and the story more cohesive. It's like total story immersion.

It's an exercise in creativity. You sit. You write. You don't go back and delete. You wear a silver cross and garlic strands to keep that editing demon at bay. Revision comes later--after you've vomited your story onto the page in such a jumbled mess that it looks like this:

or this:
or even this:

Just keep that pinky off the delete key. If you write something you KNOW you won't keep, use strikethrough. You never know. I've changed my mind later, in January or even June, and kept whole paragraphs that I'd blocked out with strikethrough.

NaNo is about word count. So keep all the words because they count. No one else will see the disaster that is unfolding on your computer screen, so don't worry about perfection. Just get the words out however you can. 

If you don't know what to write next, keep extending the scene you're in. Eventually your mind will catch up with your fingers and transition to the next scene. Sure you've got a page of extremely boring conversation at a restaurant where they debate the merits of Mary Ann versus Ginger. That's what the delete key is for, AFTER you finish NaNo. 

Then, after lots of tender loving care and nursing your story back to health, you get something that looks like this:

or this:
or best of all, this!:

If you haven't tried it--or if you tried but failed for whatever reason--try again. It's oh so hard, but in the end worth it. 

If you do NaNo this year, find me there and we can be buddys!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Writing clutter

My writing took a dip when I discovered a logic flaw in the story. At the same time, words of writing experts finally penetrated this thick skull and caused me to step back, examine shortcomings, and re-evaluate the entire manuscript.

Now I find myself with a clutter, a writing mess with files all over the hard drive. I have notes on stickies and in notebooks and hard copies. Bookmarked web pages and misfiled PDFs abound. I’ve resorted to printing hard copies and holding them in folders and now the folders are getting to be a mess.

And my story is cluttered. I’ve been through a learning process and now my characters are weak and the plot line is flawed. I’ve had flits of new ideas and now need to sit down and organize them all.

Others posting on this site have mentioned e-tools for organizing writing. They have mentioned yWriter, a Windows program. As an Apple user, I purchased Scrivener. Since my writing is in disarray, now is good time to learn a new device.

Word processors work in a linear form, starting at the beginning and finishing a few hundred pages later with “the end.” Few of us write this way. Perhaps we save chapters as separate files that must later be copied and pasted into a final document. I’ve done both, as a complete book and as chapters. I also try to maintain an on-going chapter summary and have used an Excel spreadsheet to track crucial details and character notes.

Scrivener is an open-ended writing tool. They base their philosophy on a passage written by Hilary Mantel in which she describes the process of “growing a book rather than writing one.” During the early stages of writing, one may jot down ideas on index cards, which would then be pinned to a corkboard (or an electronic equivalent). Eventually ideas are added and the index cards are rearranged into an organized manner. Scrivener does that for you. This non-linear writer tool provides the writer with the text editing features of a word processor along with the functionality of organically “growing” your work within the program. That is according to Scrivener’s users’ manual.

If it can clean up my clutter, I’m fine with that.
(This article also posted at

Friday, October 11, 2013

Working a Writing Group into Your Busy Utah Schedule

Let's face it, Utahns have extraordinarily busy lives. Between work, larger-than-average families, time-consuming religious obligations, a tendency to be involved in our communities, outdoor activities in our mountains and canyons, our habit of putting our kids (and ourselves) into cultural activities like dance, music, and sports, and the countless hours we spend arguing about who will win The Big Game, our lives are jam-packed with stuff that crowds our schedules. It's amazing that we can work in writing time, much less time for a writing group.

I've been in two groups in Utah. Both have been mostly good about getting together regularly, but there are definitely challenges. In the first group, those challenges eventually led to the group dissolving.

The group I'm in now, along with some of the other contributors to this blog, has found a workable solution over the course of the past couple years. The solution has been mentioned in this blog before, but not for a while, so I'll spill our secret for all of you right now.

Google Drive (formerly known as Google Docs).

We try to meet once a month in person, but sometimes it's hard to make our five busy schedules work together to get a second meeting (two a month seems to be our magic number, where my former group tried to meet weekly). In fact, there are many months, especially during the summer and the holiday season, when getting together once is difficult, or when some of us can meet, but not all. Because we are all writing and revising, having both meetings is important. Any fewer than two and it slows our progress.

Taking it online has made the difference and kept us going. The way we do it is fairly simple.

In a perfect month we meet once near the beginning of the month, and critique online in the second half. Or, if schedules don't work out, we'll flip that. And if necessary, we'll do both critiques online for a month.

When we meet in person, we try to post our scenes (about ten pages, again, a length that works for us) in Word format a few days early for pre-reading, but we don't make a big deal about it if one of us (too often this guy ) does not have time to read the stuff ahead of time. We keep things fairly unstructured and fluid, mostly to work around our crazy schedules.

When we critique online, we set a due date, then post somewhere around that date, using email to alert each other than our latest stuff is up and ready to be run through our mental shredders. We critique online, using Google's comment feature to mark up a manuscript and to discuss the comments left by others, then we leave a general impression of the piece at the end of the document.

We also find it useful to write a summary at the top of the document, a synopsis reminding us where we are in the story and what went on before. This helps us get started.

Because editing in Google is in real-time, we occasionally edit at the same time as another person. This does not create any problems, and can sometimes be creepy or fun while we watch another person type magically on our screen.

When necessary, like when one of us has a deadline for a submission or when we want to go over queries, we'll post off-schedule and ask that anybody who has time jump in and take a quick look. This has also worked well.

Google Drive offers another useful feature. You can set up a group calendar with the group's schedule and other special events, like signings, publication dates, birthdays, or whatever. We haven't been consistent about using our calendar, but we could be, and maybe should be.

By going online, we can work our critiques into our schedules, even when our schedules conflict, as they so often do. Online groups are frequently larger than in-person groups, especially if some people in the group are writing less, but we find that the same five members submitting about ten pages twice a month works both in person and online.

Our most enjoyable critique sessions are, of course, the ones that happen when we're in the same room. They result in good discussions, and we can more easily bounce ideas off each other. Also, most of us find it useful (if not always enjoyable) to read our work aloud to the group. It's amazing what you can find when you read aloud. That could be a blog post of its own.

However, our online critiques have other advantages that we don't have in person, such as the amount of time we can spend (especially if we can't find time to pre-read) and, as I said, the ability to work critiques into the rare gaps in our personal schedules.

For the Sharks & Pebbles, combining the two techniques works wonderfully, and gives us what we need. Every group is different, but this works for us. Maybe it will work for you.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ideas: Don't Trust the First One

by Deren Hansen

I've encouraged you not to stop with one good idea. Implicit in that advice was the assumption that you started with a good idea. Being certain that you have a good idea is much harder than recognizing when your idea falls short of good.

The first litmus test for a poor idea is simple: is it your first idea?

In the game show Family Feud, the challenge wasn't to come up with the correct answer but to guess the answers most likely to be given by the hundred people surveyed. Of the four or five hidden answers, the top one or two usually account for more than half the responses. That is, the first answer that came to mind for a person taking the survey likely came to mind to every second or third person taking the survey.

As we've often observed, 'novel,' means, 'new.' If you go with your first idea, you stand a good chance of going down a well-worn path. If you want to be a novelist, you must internalize Monty Python's catch phrase, "And now for something completely different."

But this isn't novelty simply for novelty's sake. The deeper question is how can you take the raw conceptual material and make it your own.

Chances are, your first idea really isn't your idea. (Why, after all, did so many of the people surveyed for the game show come up with the same answer?) It's simply the first association that bubbled up into your consciousness. The first association is likely the strongest, having been reinforced by external influences. To make the idea your own, you need to let it steep in your unique soup of mental associations until it morphs into something that's unmistakably you.

Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. This article is from Sustainable Creativity: How to Enjoy a Committed, Long-term Relationship with your Muse. Learn more at

Monday, October 7, 2013

When I Became a Reader

I've been through many reading phases throughout my life.
Biographies were my favorite through elementary school. The librarian made sure I had books every week. I loved reading about Amelia Earhart, Thomas Edison and Clara Barton.
Then the ugly years hit and junior high teachers made reading such a chore! Grades depended on reading and doing a report on the book. Sheesh. What a downer.
High school was similar to junior high, except English teachers wanted more about symbolism and theme and diagramming sentences. I was "forced" to read BARTLEBY, LORD OF THE FLIES and MOBY DICK. I didn't like those books. At all.
The last years of formal schooling made me dislike reading. I read magazines and receipts and billboards, but anything over fifty pages was tooooo long. 
After high school, I decided to try and read the classics that my friends read in different high school and I didn't get to read. JANE EYRE, A TALE OF TWO CITIES, THE SECRET GARDEN and THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO soon became a few of my favorite classics.
JANE EYRE was not only a great romance to my impressionable mind, it was a life study of a girl wronged all her life, and yet, she remained true to herself. I. Loved. It. I'm not sure how many times I've read the book. It's one of the few I have reread. I also might own a few of the movies...

(I also love how the covers are reworked over the years, too. It's interesting to see what the designers thought the cover would convey of the story.)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Finding Plot

Anybody who has written for very long will one day hear somebody say, "I would love to be a writer, but I can never come up with a good plot." If you are one of those people who has trouble with plot ideas, here are some suggestions.

Characters and Setting

I believe that what we call plot is one side of a coin. I read somewhere that the plot is what your characters do while completing their story. The story is their emotional journey, the part of the tale that matters most. Often, once you have your main character and her goal, and a person who stands between the character and her goal (often by wanting the same thing), the story ideas start flowing, and the plot naturally follows the story.

Jenny hid her licorice from her big sister Mona, and Mona wants to find it. In this scenario, you could choose either of these girls to be your protagonist, and the other to be your antagonist. Once that is sorted out, plot ideas suggest themselves. Drop them into an unusual setting, and more ideas pop up.

As long as two characters want the same thing and are willing to do whatever they can to get it, or one character wants something and another is going to do anything possible to stop her, you have a story that leads to a plot. Add interest by putting them in a setting that fires the imagination. The ideas will seem to spawn themselves.

This is why authors, no matter how carefully they outline the course of their tale, are so often surprised by their characters' actions and end up going in unexpected directions. Ideas have a way of creating themselves as the characters move through their emotional stories.


Countless books and short stories have been inspired by the news, either current events or things that happened in the past. Using a story from the news doesn't mean you have to write about that event. A botched bank robbery in your home town can easily become a failed attempt to steal space ship fuel rods on the planet Gor'k'h'dt in the Dutnam System. If a story in the news or in a history book fires your imagination, play with it. Twist it. Turn it on its head. You might be thrilled with the result.

Other Books and Movies

 There's nothing wrong with finding your plot elements in another story. Storytellers have done that that since the beginnings of storytelling. You don't want to plagiarize or steal another writer's stuff, but you can feed your plots with other stories. Look at how many stories have been inspired by Shakespeare, many of which would surprise you. Many stories have also been inspired by fairy tales. And any time there's a hugely popular story like The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, similar stories pop up. How many vampire romances have you seen in the last few years? You can get countless stories out of an interesting concept, even if it was originally somebody else's.

What It Really Comes Down To

When somebody says they can't come up with any ideas or plots, what it really means is they lack confidence in what they do imagine. That inner editor doesn't start popping up after you start writing. Too often, as soon as that first thought of a story sparkles enough to escape into your conscious mind, doubts start. "It's been done before," or "my grandmother wouldn't approve of that story," or "I'm not good enough to carry it through"--these are just some of the countless thoughts that can spoil a perfectly good plot idea. Trust your mind, and trust your imagination to take the plot into a direction that interests you enough to keep writing it. If it interests you, there are readers who will like it too.

Plots are all around us. Good ones. It's been said that there are really only a few plots in the world. The number depends on who is saying it, but let's use the commonly cited number four. (Lately it's seemed like there are even fewer than that, especially in Hollywood, but let's not go there today.) The things you can do with those four plots are endless. How can that be? Because people are endlessly complicated. It really comes down to that emotional story I mentioned early in this post. Find rough outlines of two people's whose goals conflict, then pull from all the stories around you to give them things to do, and the possible combinations are endless.

Remember, we also have only 26 letters in our alphabet, but those letters can be rearranged to become all of Shakespeare, Homer, all of the world's scriptures, the Gettysburg address and the Constitution, The Adventures of Captain Underpants, and a truly infinite number of things. Don't even worry about originality. Nobody else thinks just like you. Whatever you write will not be identical to anything else that has ever been written or ever will be written again. So take the plot elemnts that pop into your head, whatever the source, and have fun.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ideas: Strength Through Association

by Deren Hansen

You've likely heard the spiritual, Dem Bones, and know that the toe bone's connected to the foot bone, and the foot bone's connected to the ankle bone, and so on. It's both an anatomy lesson, of sorts, and reference to the Biblical prophet Ezekiel's vision of a valley of dry bones.

In the vision, Ezekiel prophesies, as commanded, to the bones and they come together, bone to bone, and sinews and flesh until "and exceeding great army" stands before him. Without delving into the religious significance of the vision, we can appreciate the structural significance: by themselves, the bones are dry and impotent but in proper association they become a strength and a beauty that is greater than the sum of its parts.

One of the strengths of the mass of interconnected neurons inside our skulls is in making associations.

I've talked before about story molecules: how a single idea isn't enough to carry a novel, which is why you need a constellation of ideas, working together, to sustain a long-form narrative. Associations are what bind those ideas together.

Think of it this way: if ideas are points, associations are the lines that join those points. Two point can be joined with one line. With three points, each can be connected to the other two with three lines. Four points have six lines; Five points have ten lines; and six points have fifteen. Each time you add one more idea, the number of possible connections jumps. It doesn't take many ideas before you have a rich web of associations.

Another way to look at it is that associating two ideas is a simple way to create a whole (the associated ideas) greater than the sum of the parts (the ideas in isolation).

Let's play a game: we'll start with one object, a gun, and associate it by proximity (i.e., placing it next to) another.
  • What comes to mind if we place our gun next to a shot of whiskey?
  • Now, what comes to mind if we place our gun next to a pair of baby shoes?
Associations become even more powerful if we link ideas into a chain. There was a fascinating series on PBS called Connections, in which host James Burke showed how an event or innovation in the past traced "through a series of seemingly unrelated connections to a fundamental and essential aspect of the modern world."

The associations in your stories need not be so profound, but you can use the same principle, particularly when brainstorming, to turn common-place ideas into something special.

Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. This article is from Sustainable Creativity: How to Enjoy a Committed, Long-term Relationship with your Muse. Learn more at