After spending time in the field of chemical engineering and later community development, I came to creative writing with minimal training beyond a handful of high school and college English classes. What I did bring was a passion for words and a desire to learn the craft of writing via classes, coaches, books, and online resources. Over the years, other writers have asked me for resource recommendations to help them develop as writers. Below I share some of the resources that have been helpful to my writing journey or resources that I think will be helpful to others.
Creative Nonfiction is a wonderful publication and offers a variety of online classes all focused on different forms of creative nonfiction. Each time I take a class, I'm overwhelmed with the amount of writing I accomplish. These classes have been a gift to my essay collection.
GrubStreet offers a variety of online classes in the different genres (and in person too if you're in the Boston area). An essay I started in their online essay class went on to receive a Pushcart nomination.
The Collegeville Institute offers summer writing workshops that take place in Collegeville, Minnesota. I've attended two of those workshops and both have been amazing experiences. They also partner with other organizations and offer workshops each autumn in different parts of the country. Alumni of their workshops become part of a community.
Through WordPlay, Maureen Ryan Griffin offers classes and retreats mostly in and around Charlotte, but she also has classes in other places and occasional online content. Maureen is just the person one needs to develop confidence as a writer.
Creative Nonfiction hosts a wonderful conference specifically targeting writers of the creative nonfiction genre. This was one of the first conferences I ever attended, and I learned so much that weekend. I would go back again every single year if I could.
I attended GrubStreet's the Muse & the Marketplace for the first time in 2018, and I'm so grateful I went. I'd heard about this conference for years and for good reason. The keynote and breakout sessions were wonderful and encompassed all genres. I really appreciated that they capped the size of the breakout sessions, so it was easy to connect with the presenters and ask questions. I found this to be an environment actively working to support writers of color, and I'm grateful for that.
I also attended the Festival of Faith and Writing for the first time in 2018. This also was an event I'd heard about for years. They had an amazing line-up of speakers, and I made some great connections there. I found people to be super friendly and open to engaging each other in conversation. The Festival refers to themselves as "a biennial celebration of literature and belief."
Coaches and editors
Roohi Choudhry is a wonderful writer. While I haven't yet had the chance to work with her on a project, I've been impressed with her writing process and her insights about the way she helps, "...guide narratives that cannot be bordered."
Lisa Ohlen Harris is an amazing writing coach. I've worked with her on a number of projects, and she is a "tough love" writing coach who challenges you to make your prose better than you could imagine. Go here to read my full testimonial about her.
Lisa Romeo helped to get me unstuck during a season of my writing life where nothing seemed to come together. She is thorough and full of good and useful suggestions. I'm particularly thankful for her help with some of my work that ended up finding mainstream homes.
Stanley Dankoski and I both attended a writing workshop several years ago. He is a developmental editor and copy editor who is certified as a Gateless Writing instructor. He's also a literary portrait and event photographer who offers author headshots and coverage of literary conferences and events.
I've read a lot of really wonderful craft books, and I have a shelf lined with them. These titles I return to again and again:
The Writer's Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life by Priscilla Long; this one has helped me write several essays and continues to teach me to be a better writer at the word choice, sentence, and paragraph level. This book really is a mentor.
The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction: Advice and Essential Exercises from Respected Writers, Editors and Teachers edited by Dinty W. Moore; I love writing flash nonfiction, but I also use this field guide to help with longer pieces which I often form from a string of compressed scenes.
Writing Creative Nonfiction: Instruction and Insights from the teachers of the Associated Writing Programs edited by Carolyn Forché and Philip Gerard; fabulous craft essays and additional example essays. I have reread Brenda Miller's, "A Braided Heart: Shaping the Lyric Essay," more times than I can count.
CharlotteLit is so many things: an in person community of writers in the Charlotte area, a place to take classes and find wonderful arts-focused conversation, a resource for the literary enthusiast. I'm thankful for the ways they support writers and for their contribution to the Charlotte literary world.
The Word Cellar Writers Guild is an online membership writing community that focuses on craft, creativity and community. I spent a season as an active member and particularly enjoyed the craft discussion.
Five Minute Friday is an online community (facilitated by my friend Kate) that together writes every week for five minutes from the same writing prompt. The community also focuses on equipping Christian writers. While I'm not an active member of this community, I know those who are really value being part.
hope*writers is another online membership writing community made up of writers, "who write about hope, who value encouragement and practical advice about writing as craft, business, and calling." I'm not part of this community, but I know some who are. They love it!
VONA holds writing workshops for writers of color. I haven't been yet, but I so hope to go one day...
Playing the Submissions Game...
Places I turn to when looking for submissions opportunities:
Beyond Your Blog (great editor interviews to help you learn more about a specific publication)
FundsforWriters (the weekly newsletter is filled with paying opportunities, grant opportunities, business of publishing tips, etc.)