Countless famous writers– Maya Angelou, Kerouac, Victor Hugo– have been documented as having strange writing rituals that jumpstarted their creativity. Angelou only wrote in motels, Victor Hugo wrote naked… the list goes on. What were the strangest rituals in the history of the greats? What are some rituals proven to work? How should writers looking for structure embrace the practice of rituals before writing?
Provide an overview of what’s wacky, what’s working, and what’s downright weird.
This is fine. But if someone decides to write an article about this topic, I would like to see more than just a list of writers and their eccentricities. The author will need to work with serious and reliable sources because there are many rumors out there about “rituals of writing” that are just plain lies. There are scholars who occupy a big portion of their research in debunking these rumors. The author of the potential article will also need to provide with a thorough analysis that expresses a reasoned and substantiated position about the subject. Otherwise we can just google the subject and be done with it. – T. Palomino1 year ago
This subject is an exciting topic; perhaps the author might mention some negative aspects of either having rituals or not having them. Another point would be giving examples of significant routines involved in writing and how these improve or hinder creativity. Also, the author might provide evidence of writing rituals that improved the author's work and others that caused writer's block. – Richard1 year ago
Excellent look at different sources, like writing rituals, I think you can reimagine a different landscape – mfolau181 year ago
I think every writer is different and it takes time to really hammer down their own person writing ritual. Every writer is different and no two writing ritual is the same, that's what makes writing so brilliant, individuality breeds new ideas which in turn breed new stories. – MichaelQualishchefski1 year ago
Interesting, but broad, and perhaps problematic considering that what's strange or wacky to one writer or layperson might be completely "normal" to the next (whatever that word means). I'm more concerned, too, that you might run into a lot of overlap. For instance, a lot of writers today have the same advice (write at the same time every day, make yourself sit your butt in the chair, stop in the middle of a sentence and come back). Perhaps you could expand from writing rituals to specific advice for specific genres, or something of that nature? Or perhaps you could focus on writers from different periods, and make a case for how the writing process has evolved from say, the twentieth century to now? – Stephanie M.1 year ago
Amidst a global pandemic, most of us are working from home, and in that context, mental health has become a persistent topic. For writers, daily access to the outside world is an integral part in motivating our creative processes. Under current circumstances where quarantine and isolation is advised, I propose an article that may consider the positive and negative effects that isolation may have in writing as a creative process.
A timely topic indeed. I'd suggest adding a section on combating the isolation if and when possible. The obvious answer is, "leave the house," but there are more creative and necessary options during the pandemic, such as taking a virtual museum tour or watching a musical or operatic performance online. In fact, you might profile some platforms where people can do these activities as part of this or another article. – Stephanie M.3 years ago
Awesome suggestions, it makes sense that the article not only considers the problem but also offer possible solutions to the problem. – Locke3 years ago
I actually think this topic is so relevant and important to explore during this time. – RheaRG3 years ago
The use of flashbacks and flashforwards is a controversial subject among writers and writing advice pages. Some encourage flashbacks/flashforwards, while others encourage to avoid (especially if they bogg the narrative down or doesn’t contribute anything to the overall plot). How does this criticism and in depth understanding of this literary device assist writers in improving their craft? How does this affect the way writers read/analyse flashbacks and flashforwards in fiction?
*Two novel’s that could be discussed in detail is "A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan and "Time’s Arrow" by Martin Amis.
A cursory glance at the names of contributors to The Artifice shows that many of us choose nom de plumes (pen names). My own pen name is a variant spelling of a character’s name from an Agatha Christie novel, whilst other contributors have chosen pen names that either reflect their interests, their sense of humour or they serve as a personal statement. There are many reasons to use pen names. Some may be for political or cultural reasons. George Eliot (1819-1880), for example, was writing at a time when it was difficult for a female writer to be accepted simply as a writer and not be judged by her sex. Conversely, I recently met a male writer who writes romantic fiction under a female nom de plume; and very successfully too. Discuss how the invention of a ‘literary double’ might empower the writer and, just as importantly, have our nom de plumes become characters in their own right?
All students experience what is described as "student’s block", so they should not be unduly alarmed if they find that they have an essay to write and they can’t even bring themselves to sit down and begin it. The time will come, nonetheless, when the deadline has to be met and if you have left your preparation to the night before you are hardly going to do either yourselves or the essay justice.
I like this topic---it branches away from what we normally see on The Artifice and displays an academic and practical side to the magazine. Be sure to include, possibly, some research relating to procrastination, common causes for "student's block," and speak with a constructive air. – Dominic Sceski5 years ago
Definitely a pertinent topic; also, one that tends to strike students, educators...everyone!
There's numerous insightful tips on how to combat writer's block. As a literature professor, I first advise students to not fall trap to the blinking cursor of self doubt and to get up from their laptop and take a mental break. Suggestions also include formulating the essay to match the thesis, not the other way around; encouraging the shifting of paragraphs; if one paragraph is not coming along, but the next point is bustling, just put the troublesome paragraph in a different color font to return to later; also suggesting switching the closing paragraph as the introductory paragraph tends to helps some students.
But, all of these suggestions detail the writing process, not the pre-game strategy. So, one of the best suggestions--I think--is to free write all ideas as they come to mind while disregarding sentence structures, spelling, but just jotting ideas as presented through a stream of consciousness. Hope this helps! – danielle5775 years ago
The topic seems to be good as these types of tips are given by the services providers which are banned in all over the world. – mohsinrafiq805 years ago
A good topic. How do you give advice on writing? For forty years of teaching I've been addressing this question and always feel frustrated with the advice I give. Basically, I try to get students to realize you need to write daily. Writing daily can consist of nothing more than a few sentences about what they are looking at while sitting there thinking about writing. The point is you need to see something on the page. You need to get students to realize they can play around with words and create different images. Writing is something that is not done infrequently. – Joseph Cernik5 years ago
I really like this essay topic because it’s a struggle I see often times in students I work with as a writing tutor. I advise students to think about the essay sooner rather than later. The deadline may give a student the pressure they need to get an essay done, but the stress isn’t worth it, especially when the student has multiple assignments for other classes, too. It’s important for students to remember that they don’t have to sit down and finish an essay in one sitting. It’s good to space out the writing process – maybe brainstorm today, pull out quotes tomorrow, and begin working on an outline or first draft over the weekend.
For myself, I try to brainstorm ideas for an essay as soon as I get the assignment – if not the day I get the assignment, then over the next couple of days. I also write everything that comes to mind. Sometimes I’ll think an idea is stupid, but if I decide not to write down one idea, who’s to say I’ll stop writing down all ideas altogether? Often times it can also help to look at materials from the class. I know that sounds obvious, but a lot of students I work with don’t think about looking at the book they’re trying to write about or they don’t think about class discussions that may spark inspiration. – Heidi5 years ago
A look into the plain English writing movement and how this has impacted newspapers, and social media as well as academic, professional and contemporary writing.
Has the plain English writing movement improved writing standards and expectations?
Or has is simplified and ‘dumbed’ down writing skills such as comprehension and interpretation?
I did update this but it didn't work.
Plain English (or layman's terms) is a style of communication that uses easy to understand, plain language with an emphasis on clarity, brevity, and avoidance of overly complex vocabulary. The movement began in the 1970's to improve legal documents. The purpose was to remove the confusion to the layperson because of the obscurities of the style of writing. Fast forward to today and we are seeing organisation who's sole purpose is to teach anyone involved in writing documents or online content how to write in layman's terms. The movement has penetrated universities, government and others. – mattcarlin6 years ago
I think that depends on what/why you are writing. Plain language is less precise, and is often less poetic and eloquent (although not always- I'm thinking writers like Hemingway). That said, it makes the writing accessible to a larger population. Personally, I find it frustrating that many people would rather have easy content than improve their comprehension abilities, but it's undeniable that in certain circumstances plain English is for the best. There is probably an argument to be made that overuse could lead to an increasing lack of intellectual acuity in the content and in the readers, as well. – Ben Woollard6 years ago
Oooh, there are so many different angles to approach this from. I'd recommend a sociolinguistic one for the reason that form VS function, linguistic shift etc are easier to frame and explore if you look at it from the perspective of how language is commonly used. The prescriptive VS descriptive debate is a longstanding one and there will be a lot of literature on the topic to wade through, but otherwise, should be fascinating to read and write about. – Cat6 years ago
Many of the old "classic" writers chose to write all their work by hand first and then type, if typing was available at all. Has the use of the computer and typing improved writers ability to perform their craft? Do writers today who choose to write long hand have an advantage?
Typing definitely reduces the amount of time spent for writing. However, some writers who choose to write longhand do so because it's their work habit. I think writing longhand helps them spot errors more because looking at a screen might be more difficult for some writers. – seouljustice7 years ago
The act of writing with an instrument in hand infuses one's heart and soul into the work. It is like a tear sliding down the cheek: you feel it. Typing is more like work - just getting it on the page. Forming letters, words, and phrases in ink from a perfectly proportioned pen with the color that fits the mood allows the writer to bleed out on the page. No keyboard can replicate the bond that ink from the hand creates.
– ajforrester757 years ago
The writer might also look into the way the brain works when handwriting versus typing. Handwriting is more engaging than typing. You can cross out words and write small notes to yourself as you go along. There are ways to do that in a word document; however, it really isn't the same. – krae297 years ago
It may be individual. For example, when I write with a pen, it makes me feel kind of secure. Not just because, unlike with computers, I’m sure my writing will not be accidentally erased or deleted but also because it gives this unexplainable feeling of close friendship with pen & paper) It’s the kind of feeling you have if you prefer printed books over e-books. It also makes my piece feel more real, for some reason. Writing longhand is time-consuming, it’s true. But for someone like me, it reduces anxiety, which is more important to me (if only I don’t feel the deadline’s breath against my back – then the anxiety is inevitable, anyway :)). So, I usually write my stuff down and then put my headphones on with some Aretha playing and start typing it on my computer almost automatically – weirdly enough, I enjoy typing as a separate activity which I cannot properly combine with the writing process that requires concentration deeper than one I have when just typing comments or messages.
Plus, papers with handwriting gain even sentimental value through the years.
I suppose, I’m a bit old-fashioned and embarrassingly not ‘technology-fluent’ as for a millennial (first time calling myself this way)). I guess, the perfect option for me would be a typing machine – a vague compromise between velocity and cosiness. Unfortunately, I would still have to either type it once more on my computer or use some damn good scanner and a bunch of software tools to convert images into text so I could put my work on the net and have it mobile. So, objectively, it’s most beneficial to do it all A to Z on the computer, but, from an individual point of view, writing with one’s hand has some personal advantages. The evolution of technology has played a crucial role here, but the evolution of people in the context of their readiness or refusal to accept those changes is what really should be examined.
– funkyfay7 years ago
REVISION: How can writing benefit a student in all jobs/careers?
ProtoCanon, I thought your response/note was a little harsh. In no way am I judging or millennial-bashing anyone. In fact, I am one of those thousands of millennial undergraduate students studying English, so I would not submit a topic to bash myself. But thank you for the destructive criticism. – Marina7 years ago
Marina, this is too simplistic. I know you've revises the edits but the topic requires more detail before someone can write it. Honestly if you just add some background (why is this relevant? important?) than it will be perfect. – Mela7 years ago
I think one of the many benefits of writing is that they can improve their communication skills. But I do agree with Mela. The topic is interesting, but it wouldn't hurt to add more details. – seouljustice7 years ago
You could almost instantly narrow this topic down if you talked about its polar opposite. What can't writing do for you career-wise? Which aspects of professional life remain unexplored by written expression? This next suggestion is a slight deviation but someone could consider talking about the aspects of life (both professional and otherwise) that are beyond written expression. Does recognising these limitations provide any worthwhile information about how to better use writing to one's advantage in all domains? – IsidoreIsou7 years ago
Too broad and out of the scope of The Artifice. – T. Palomino7 months ago
As writers, we ground ourselves in the do’s and don’t’s of writing and study those who come before us. But, if you strip every fiction story ever told to the bare, bare bones, you’ll find that stories all move in a similar way. One of two things happens: Someone leaves town to go on an adventure, or a stranger comes to town. What does this mean to us as writers? Do we write the same stories or do we refine the same stories as time passes?
This topic looks like it may also want to reference The Hero's Journey (a nice summary available here: http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/the-hero-journey-mythic-structure-of-joseph-campbell-monomyth.html) What additional insight could this topic contribute to the discussion started by Joseph Campbell regarding storytelling? Maybe a look at other incarnations or types of journeys? – Kevin7 years ago
Research into Post-Modernism would be useful for this topic as well. – Matt Sautman7 years ago
Is there a contradiction between coming to town and leaving town? After all, when someone arrives someplace it's only because they've left somewhere else. – albee7 years ago
To strengthen this article, I believe you could compare and contrast two stories, analyze their plots, and conclude that most plots are formulaic based on the two stories you compared and contrasted. – Sjohnida7 years ago
For this topic I recommend looking at old myths and legends, I believe that it would be beneficial since myths were some of the first stories ever told and recorded – RSison937 years ago
Even a brief examination of the history of literature, poetry and playwriting reveals that much of humankind’s essence has already been explored in a myriad forms. We, as modern writers, are trying to find new things to say about emotions, beliefs, states of mind, and ideas that have been with us for millennia. Can anything new be said, or is everything just a reformulation of old things? Has writing exhausted its potential for innovation?
All said, does novelty even matter? It could be that there is "nothing new under the sun" in terms of literary explorations of emotions, thoughts and human experiences. However, is it more important that something new actually be said or that an artist tries to do so? Why? What makes either attempt successful or unsuccessful?