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The Georgia Writers’ Bloc was founded in September 2010 as an informal collective of graduate students and professors in the University of Georgia’s History Department. We are interested in exploring our roles as writers and authors within (and extending beyond) the discipline of history. We meet not only to improve the line-by-line quality of our writing, but also to trace and push against the boundaries of the history genre.

Dolnick, “Stupid Writer Tricks”

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“In the imaginary author interviews I occasionally conduct with myself while brushing my teeth, I very happily expound on these techniques and a dozen others. But I also take care to note that the important thing is not the techniques, but the spirit in which you take them up. If you reach out, as I spent all those years doing, like a drowning man for a scrap of wood, then you’ll most likely flail until you and your technique sink together in an unhappy mass. If, though, you can reach out from a position of calm, as a swimmer reaches out for a kickboard before turning to begin his next lap, then you might find yourself feeling what all the tricks and tips are finally pointing toward: freedom. You might surprise yourself — roll onto your back, do a flutter kick, or just float for a while. The water, after all, is the point, and not how you scratch away at it.” [Ben Dolnick, “Stupid Writer Tricks, New York Times, April 15, 2013, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/stupid-writer-tricks/%5D

Kreider, “The Power of ‘I Don’t Know'”

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“My least favorite parts of my own writing, the ones that make me cringe to reread, are the parts where I catch myself trying to smush the unwieldy mess of real life into some neatly-shaped conclusion, the sort of thesis statement you were obliged to tack on to essays in high school or the Joycean epiphanies that are de rigueur in apprentice fiction — whenever, in other words, I try to sound like I know what I’m talking about. Real life, in my experience, is not rife with epiphanies, let alone lessons; what little we learn tends to come exactly too late, gets contradicted by the next blunder, or is immediately forgotten and has to be learned all over again. More and more, the only things that seem to me worth writing about are the ones I don’t understand. Sometimes the most honest and helpful thing a writer can do is to acknowledge that some problems are insoluble, that life is hard and there aren’t going to be any answers, that he’s just as screwed-up and clueless as the rest of us. Or I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.” [Tim Kreider, “The Power of ‘I Don’t Know,'” New York Times, April 29, 2013, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/29/the-power-of-i-dont-know/%5D

Adverbs are Weeds

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Stephen King admonishes the timid writer for his over-dependence on adverbs:

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/03/13/stephen-king-on-adverbs/

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Upside of Distraction – NYTimes.com

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I didn’t set up an Internet connection. I didn’t have a TV or an iPhone. For hundreds of miles in every direction, none of the movie theaters were playing movies I wanted to see. There were dangerous roads, there was dangerous weather. I spent my days scribbling longhand, as snow piled up against my house and made high branches slap against my windows. I was embowered in the graces of Turgenev’s age.

When I socialized, it was often with poets, who confirmed by their very existence that I had landed in a better, vanished time. Even their physical ailments were of the 19th century. One day, in the depths of winter, I came upon one of them picking his way across the snow and ice on crutches, pausing to drag on his cigarette.“What happened to you?” I asked.

“I have gout,” he said, his tone hail-fellow-well-met. “It still happens, apparently.”

The disaster unfolded slowly. The professors and students were diplomatic, but a pall of boredom fell over the seminar table when my work was under discussion. I could see everyone struggling to care. And then, trying feverishly to write something that would engage people, I got worse. First my writing became overthought, and then it went rank with the odor of desperation. It got to the point that every chapter, short story, every essay was trash.

via Upside of Distraction – NYTimes.com.

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Cornell – Productive Writer

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Cornell – Productive Writer

We recently received notification of this link via the history department listserv. Sponsored by the Cornell University Graduate School, the Productive Writer provides fledgling historians and aspiring writers a support system by linking them with other like-minded scholars via email. The listserv sends out bimonthly messages containing writing tips ranging from time management strategies to motivational tactics.

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Kurt Vonnegut’s Rules for Writing with Style

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Kurt Vonnegut’s Rules for Writing with Style

Here’s some tips of the trade to start the week off right!

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Writing as a Calling

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“Writing is different.  Other people get into occupations by accident or design; but writers are born.  We have to write.  I have to write.  I could work at selling motels, or slopping hogs, for fifty years, but if someone asked my occupation, I’d say writer, even if I’d never sold a word.  Writers write.  Other people talk.” – Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella

By W.P. Kinsella, Shoeless Joe, New York: Ballantine Books, 1982, 92-93.