What To Do When You Have Writer’s Block

Every so often, writers hit a road block.  Sometimes we’re zipping along that writing highway and suddenly we take a detour and we’re off on a side road and boom!  We run into a herd of cattle hanging out in the middle of our path.  Sure, we could off-road it and drive through the pastures… Read more »

Why Writers Must Be Readers First

This is a DIY MFA Manifesto for Why Writers Must Be Readers First One year ago, I heard Richard Nash (Publisher of Red Lemonade) give a fascinating talk about how writers have to be readers.  His argument was that reading and writing are the opposite sides of the same interaction.  I remember thinking: OMG did… Read more »

When Did Your Love Affair with Writing Begin?

This week, as the build-up to Valentine’s Day saturates the world with candy hearts and long-stemmed roses, I thought it might be fun to think about how we found our love for writing.  I became a writer at this little school pictured on the left–The Caedmon School in New York City–and this is how it… Read more »

Five Promises You Make to Your Reader

Starting a novel or short story is like making a promise to the reader.  You set up rules and expectations that your readers will rely on as they read your piece.  You take your readers by the hand and guide them into your story.  You develop a trust-relationship with the reader. Delaying or changing these… Read more »

Legally Speaking: Q&A

You had questions… now I have answers!  As we wrap up the Legally Speaking post series, I’ll address the questions that have come up during the past few weeks. Can I use the name of a deceased person as a character name in my “based on a true story” work of fiction? Depends on who… Read more »

Copyright Resource List

As our “Legally Speaking” series winds down, I thought I would share some links and resources where you can find more information about copyright and legal issues for writers.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it can certainly help you get started. Law School Clinical Programs In addition to the resources and… Read more »

Licensing vs. Work for Hire

One legal distinction that is very important for writers to understand is the difference between licensing and work for hire. Licensing In publishing terms, licensing is usually the scenario you find when you publish your work via the traditional route.  You query an agent, the agent “sells” the book to a publisher, you sign an… Read more »

Infringement, Fair Use, and Derivative Works

As writers, we’re often inspired by work from artists who have come before us.  One question that often comes up is whether we can use some piece of another artist’s work in our own work.  The answer is: it’s complicated.  There are three things you have  to consider when using part of someone else’s work… Read more »

How to Find Your Unique Ideas

Here’s the ugly truth: No writer exists in a void. All writing is influenced by what has come before. There is no such thing as being utterly, completely unique because all writing exists within a context. In a world that’s always screaming for the Next New Thing, how do we writers reconcile that with the… Read more »

What is Copyright and What Does it Do?

There are four main areas in Intellectual Property (IP) law: patents, copyrights, tradmarks and trade secrets.  Each of these areas protects a different type of intellectual property. Patents: Protect an invention by preventing others from copying a specific mechanism or process. Copyrights: Protect artistic expression by preventing others from copying the substance of an artistic… Read more »