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Self-Help through Writing Self-Help

How does the act of writing self-help help writers?
The benefits of writing are widely documented, as are the benefits of teaching others. This, combined with the growing popularity of autoethnography, provides an opportunity to examine self-help authors and their relationships with their material. What benefits (or issues) arise from the act of writing self-help? For example, Sarah Knight (author of the No Fucks Given Guides) says her writing reflects what she has learnt about managing her own anxiety. However, was she already codifying her strategies while learning to deal with anxiety? Did writing help her, or was she simply out to fill a gap in the market?

  • Maggie Nelson's 'The Argonauts' is a great piece of autoethnography that the potential writer could look at when approaching this topic. – Samantha Leersen 10 months ago
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  • There's something here for sure. I would probably be interested in doing some research on this and writing it – mmbranagan 10 months ago
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  • I second Samantha's suggestions on The Argonauts. Maggie Nelson's most recent work, On Freedom, also ventures into her personal experience with anxiety, making art, motherhood, and the act of writing and creating in her own life as she meditates on the world around her. – kkenny 10 months ago
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  • That is a seriously interesting topic. Perhaps, the writer could write self-help to see how much helped themselves? :D – Paddy 9 months ago
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Queer Representation in Literature

The classics read in most English classes have little to know queer representation within them. Although LGBTQ literature is on the rise, it is still not something that is taught in schools across America. Why is that? What can be done to ensure this doesn’t happen going forward?

  • This sounds like a really good idea to explore. It is also important to discuss how queer characters may have been changed to appeal to heteronormativity (think "historians say they were best friends"). – annasamson 12 months ago
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  • We can also argue that the current literature and compulsory reading is pretty much anti-queer, talking about people in gender-specific roles more often than not, and how that impacts us. – rosewinters 12 months ago
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  • I like this topic and I think this is the reason why most people are still homophobic. I am not only referring to the American society but the entire world. If we introduce works of literature and visual media about LGBTQ issues in schools, I am sure people will start changing their minds about it and be more willing to accept sexual minority groups. Education is always the key to enlightenment and tolerance. I like how you are inviting the author to explore the reason behind the fact it is not getting implemented in schools. I recommend that you develop more questions as what novels should be introduced in the classroom that may have the potential to change their minds. – Malak Cherif 12 months ago
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  • One of the main wide-spread literature that we read, not only in high schools but in Literature degrees to is Shakespeare, and SO much can be said of queerness in the plays. There exists a plethora of resources to make this topic accessible, and many contemporary theorists work on it too. You can check out 'Shakesqueer' which can be a good companion. – Dash 12 months ago
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  • There's a bunch of YA and romance novels that write queer representation really well. I can offer ideas if you need somewhere to start. – Jordan 11 months ago
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Published

What are some of the attributes of male characters written by women?

With much said about how the male gaze affects female characters ("men writing women"), and with more media now being presented from the female perspective, what are some common threads among male characters written by women? Examples could come from various mediums, like Speckle from Tuca and Bertie (TV) and Khalid from Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin (literature).

  • It might be fun to compare and contrast men from Austen, Bronte, Shelley, etc. to more modern literature. – noahspud 10 months ago
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Locked

The Importance of Travelling to Creative Writing

Analyse the importance of travelling to experience other cultures on the creative writing process (either your own experience or an author you are familiar with).

  • I think it would be good to include the aspect of travel as not necessarily only the aspect of exploring other countries and cultures, but to use 'travel' as a metaphor for stepping outside of our comfort or familiarity zone even in everyday life, and thereby creating more depth and experience to draw upon in our writing. – MonicaGrant 4 years ago
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  • Stepping outside of the world you know and into the unknown or the other worlds we’ve only read about is essential to unclogging writer’s block. As MonicaGrant said it’s also about getting out of your comfort zone, mentally. Traveling allows you to open up to these new spaces in your mind. It gives you new perspectives and issues to expand upon. Traveling gives you the opportunity to tell the people’s story of them that may not have a voice. – Jailel 3 years ago
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  • I agree with the sentiment that "travel" us a metaphor for stepping outside of one's comfort zone. Furthermore, an author travelling and exploring the unknown lends proper authenticity in regards to escapism, a trait that so many, if not all creative pieces, aim to have readers experience. – TahliaEve 3 years ago
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  • I'm wondering if this relationship might be more reciprocal than the suggested topic allows. What if creative writing is what encourages people to travel? – kelseyodegreef 3 years ago
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  • I definitely like this idea as I think many on this site could relate to the ideas expressed and would be interested to hear another's input. Especially when analyzed through the work of a few great authors of the past. – RJSTEELE 3 years ago
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  • Travelling I always feel can be taken both from a figurative and literal perspective as what one does in promoting their individual growth. The individual experiences of every writer play significant role in how their works turn out, and as such exploring not only the literal notion of traveling from one place to another, but also the mental traveling one endures when dealing with day to day life would be interesting for discussion. – ajaymanuel 3 years ago
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  • An example that could be drawn upon is Steinbeck's Travels with Charley: In Search of America. – EJSmall 3 years ago
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  • W.G. Sebald’s Rings of Saturn is an interesting read that could tie in will here – Samantha Leersen 2 years ago
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  • Travel de-centers our way of thought for reasons that startle, astound, confuse, intrigue, and all of the above. This happens because we don't know how we are meant to "feel" or "think" in a place that is culturally distinct from our own. In short, our way of life is being challenged, and we feel the need to confront the new in order to re-center ourselves. – JuanGomez 1 year ago
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  • From a literal sense, actually traveling to locations, especially those that enjoy a culture much different from our own, is enlightening: both on an intellectual level and one of pure pleasure, experiencing the vernacular within language, architecture and geographical differences, experienced in both plein-air and urban landscapes, together are catalysts (or persuasive elements) vital for the creative thinking. Though we have the means to travel through virtual conduits, these fantastical journeys can only, barely prick, our inner emotions, desires and social consciousness of the world around us: the virtual experience feeds only the mind, but only reality can be prick our souls. Lance A. Lewin – Fine Art Photographer/Instructor/Lecturer Georgia USA – LanceLewin 10 months ago
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Taken by JackWalton (PM) 3 weeks ago.
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Ambigous Endings

I’d figure that an analysis on ambiguous ends in literature seems to warrant some serious thought.I’d like somebody to write about the psychology related to an open-ended plot..Movies could do as well.Anime is also an option

  • Do you have specific works in mind? Choosing some might help anchor the topic. – Stephanie M. 5 years ago
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  • Before We Go is a great movie with an ambiguous ending. – Munjeera 5 years ago
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  • Like the ending in Kidnapped or David Copperfield? – RedFlame2000 5 years ago
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  • Looks good under the topic of writing as the discussion could be the value of an ambiguous ending using various examples of how it works in various mediums. – Munjeera 5 years ago
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  • Before We Go is a Chris Evans movie about two people who meet in New York. He is on his way to connect us with the love of his life who has become an old flame and she is deciding to end her marriage. I can't say the ending because it will be a spoiler but the ending is ambiguous. Unusual for a romantic comedy. – Munjeera 5 years ago
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  • An ambiguous ending to a novel will undoubtedly leave open the window to future renditions. Even in a happy-ending scenario, there is potential for reversal of fortune (leading to another compilation). There is always the possibility that the reader massaged the original plot into a flavor consistent to their unique palate; one the author could conceivably exploit into several more chapters, or sequels. An unresolved ending builds the kind of tension and momentum that brings loyal readership back to the watering hole, so to speak. That is not to say that critics won't take notice either, for ambiguity fuels their ire as well. – lofreire 5 years ago
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  • Damn! You beat me to it. I was going to suggest a very similar topic. On a personal note, I rather enjoy ambiguous endings or those that credit the audience with enough intelligence to work things out for themselves. We are all too often given spoon-fed answers that discourage us from thinking...and we are a thinking species after all! – Amyus 5 years ago
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  • Are ambiguous endings sometimes done so as to leave the way open for a sequel? Or it can be a sci-fi device... – JudyPeters 5 years ago
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Is disabling comments on internet articles and videos brave or idiotic?

When online publications release a video or an article that covers a controversial topic or expresses a provocative opinion, more and more frequently the moderators of the website decide to preemptively disable the comments section. Is this a smart idea, given that some topics on more popular websites will inevitably draw internet trolls or similar undesirables to flood comment sections with useless vitriol that overpowers legitimate discussion? Or is this an idiotic action that stifles any chance of legitimate discussion for fear of having to deal with hateful or useless material? Are moderators afraid of being accused of fostering a hateful environment if they allow this material to be presented in their forums? This is especially relevant given that many websites feature a voting system for their comment sections which allow audiences to give relevant comments more visibility based on the opinions of the people actually reading the article or watching the video, thereby allowing audiences to self-regulate what material they choose to engage with.

  • I would suggest being wary of using qualitative terms like "brave" or "idiotic" without strong supporting data (statistics, news headlines, polls, website usage data, etc.). What defines "brave" or "idiotic" is subjective. This feels like it could include a bigger discussion about freedom of speech, censorship, cyber bullying, and hate speech. I would be very interested if this focused on one platform like a case study (YouTube, Twitter, Twitch, 4chan, etc.) because it might be a lot of work to do a broader examination of online commenting. – Eden 3 years ago
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  • If the comments are very/all negative, then you absolutely must disable them. Of course, if the content is disturbing or shouldn't be seen and it causes public outrage, then disabling them seems redundant. However, for something innocent or religious, disabling comments would definitely be necessary. – OkaNaimo0819 3 years ago
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  • Interesting topic! You could possibly explore reasons why disabling comments would be appropriate or argue that it is never appropriate depending on your stance. – Dena Elerian 3 years ago
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  • This is such a relevant, yet interesting topic! Especially with today's internet culture and the prevalence of "cancel culture", it would be interesting to discuss how social accountability versus an intolerant space with no room for growth extends into the realm of hate comments and the action of disabling them. – miagracen 2 years ago
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  • Great topic. I have to wonder, though, how often "legitimate discussion" actually occurs in those online comment sections. – JamesBKelley 2 years ago
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  • If approaching it from the angle of qualitative terms like brave vs. something else, I encourage veering away from "idiotic," as that is an ableist term. – the.liquid.kid 2 years ago
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Narrative Distance in Life Writing

Life writing (memoirs, essays, autobiographies and biographies, auto-theory, etc.) is inherently personal in nature. These writings focus on personal stories that can be confronting for the reader to read, AND for the writer to write. They intend to communicate some form of personal, human truth.

But what role does narrative distance play in these works? Does life writing have to be first-person perspective that recounts events exactly as they transpired? Or, can a writer distance themselves from the writing and still achieve the same intimacy of life writing?

A range of texts could be discussed here; texts that approach life writing very differently.

Some examples could include clear-cut autobiographies written in the first-person (of which there are many), or works of fiction where a made-up character represents a real person (semi-autobiographical works, like Jane Eyre or Frost in May). A more out-there example could be cook books — these often express personal stories under the guise of recipes. Travel writing, too, can often be an inadvertent style of writing about the self whilst maintaining some narrative distance.

  • Good topic! If I may, The Essays, of Michel de Montaigne could, perhaps, be a relevant example. Indeed, the goal of Montaigne was to depict himself in such a way every reader could find a bit of himself through the pages. In the preface, he wrote: “I am myself the matter of this book […] Every man has within himself the entire human condition”. Montaigne, under the cover of an autobiographical work, tackles, however, many subjects, whether it is social analysis ("Of Cannibals", for instance) or philosophical thoughts, through references to many ancient thinkers. The fact that it is a rather old book (1570-1592) and a French one, may also stress another aspect of narrative distance. – Gavroche 2 years ago
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Exploring the Nom de Plume

What causes someone to choose a "nom de plume" ("pen name")? While living in the Internet age, most people are completely comfortable with the idea of identifying themselves online with names other than those they were born with (i.e. usernames). When it comes to writers, the Brontë sisters all used male pseudonyms in order for their work to be taken more seriously. J.K. Rowling was encouraged to hide her sex when the Harry Potter series was initially published because it was feared young boys would not read her work otherwise. Later, J.K. Rowling herself disguised her world-famous name with the pseudonym "Robert Galbraith" when she departed from Harry Potter-related works. However, it is not only women who take up a "pen name." Lewis Caroll, Mark Twain, and George Orwell are just some examples of this. Much like a "stage name" can serve to reinvent oneself into a more exciting character than one’s birth name would initially suggest, what are the myriad reasons for which authors choose nom de plumes? What do they seek to change or perhaps maintain? Have the reasons for pen names changed over time? If so, how?

  • Hi, I'm not trying to steal your thunder, but I made a very similar topic suggestion a while back: https://the-artifice.com/whats-in-a-non-de-plume/ Might be worth combining both topic suggestions, as we essentially ask the same questions. – Amyus 2 years ago
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