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Secrets of the Creative Brain

A leading neuroscientist who has spent decades studying creativity shares her research on where genius comes from, whether it is dependent on high IQ—and why it is so often accompanied by mental illness.

Writing Is Thinking

Writing is intimidating. There’s this expectation of artful precision, mercurial grammatical rules, and the weird angst that comes with writing for other people.

The Demise of the Pen

The pen is dead. It was murdered by the finger. “Hmm, maybe we have one upstairs,” I said as we both began a detective-like search for anything that resembled a vessel for ink. We scoured the home office, kitchen drawers, bedrooms, even looking through our cars. But again, no pen.

How to Write: A Year in Advice from Franzen, King, Hosseini, and More

This year, I talked to nearly 50 different writers for the By Heart series, a weekly column about beloved quotes and cherished lines. Each author shared the life-changing, values-shaping passages that have helped sustain creative practice throughout his or her career.

The Secret to Developing a Regular Writing Habit

This is the year you become a writer. And what do writers do? They write, of course. There’s nothing mystical or magical about it. You just have to show up and do the work: place butt in chair, fingers on keys, and start typing.

Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers

In one of my favorite Stephen King interviews, for The Atlantic, he talks at length about the vital importance of a good opening line. “There are all sorts of theories,” he says, “it’s a tricky thing.

David Foster Wallace on Writing, Self-Improvement, and How We Become Who We Are

In late 1999, David Foster Wallace (February 21, 1962–September 12, 2008) — poignant contemplator of death and redemption, tragic prophet of the meaning of life, champion of intelligent entertainment, admonisher against blind ambition, advocate of true leadership — called the office of the

The "Do Something" Principle

I‘ve been working with self development advice for a large percentage of my life. I’ve come across a lot of concepts and ideas as well as invented quite a few of my own. But the following is one of the most important ideas I’ve stumbled across in my life:

Screenwriting Isn’t Writing

There’s an inherent fascination with the lives and doings of great artists, arising from the accurate intuition that the work and the life are continuous—that there’s no real boundary between them, that the work is a crystallization of the life, and that the life is itself an uncaptured creati

Want to write great narrative? Study screenwriting.

Cut to: Me, author of a soon-to-be published biography of the 1940s/’50s wrestler and pop culture figure who called himself Gorgeous George. I’m on the phone with the woman in charge of selling HarperCollins books to the movies. Time: 2008 or so.

Jack Handey Is the Envy of Every Comedy Writer in America

When Jack Handey sold his first jokes to Steve Allen in 1977, Allen sent him a letter offering him $100 and telling him his name sounded like a product, not a person. “Say homemakers, take a look at the new Jack Handey,” Allen wrote.

Save the Movie!

If you’ve gone to the movies recently, you may have felt a strangely familiar feeling: You’ve seen this movie before.

2013’s Best Books on Writing and Creativity

After the year’s best books in photography, psychology and philosophy, art and design, history and biography, science and technology, “children’s” (though we all know what that means), and pets and animals, the season’s subjective selection of best-of reading lists concludes with the y

The Art of “Creative Sleep”: Stephen King on Writing and Wakeful Dreaming

“Sleep is the greatest creative aphrodisiac,” a wise woman once said. Indeed, we already know that dreaming regulates our negative emotions and “positive constructive daydreaming” enhances our creativity, while a misaligned sleep cycle is enormously mentally crippling.

Writing The Perfect Scene

Having trouble making the scenes in your novel work their magic? In this article, I’ll show you how to write the “perfect” scene. Maybe you think it’s impossible to write the perfect scene.

So you want to be a writer …

Last week Hanif Kureishi dismissed creative writing courses as 'a waste of time', yet they have never been more popular.

Hemingway’s Advice to Aspiring Authors – Brain Pickings

Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899–July 2, 1961) has contributed a great deal to the collected advice of great writers, from his famous admonition against the dangers of ego to his short and stellar Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

Here's How Maria Popova of Brain Pickings Writes

Most serious writers and online publishers are relentlessly on the prowl for fresh inspiration to fuel both their creativity and productivity.

How To Write Your First Book

Writing a book is a daunting task. Writing a first book seems especially so.

This Is Your Brain on Writing

A novelist scrawling away in a notebook in seclusion may not seem to have much in common with an NBA player doing a reverse layup on a basketball court before a screaming crowd. But if you could peer inside their heads, you might see some striking similarities in how their brains were churning.

How to Write with Style: Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Keys to the Power of the Written Word

Kurt Vonnegut (November 11, 1922–April 11, 2007) has given us some of the most timeless advice on the art and craft of writing — from his 8 rules for a great story to his insights on the shapes of stories to his formidable daily routine.

This column will change your life: how to think about writing

'The idea is to help readers discern something you know they'd be able to see, if only they were looking in the right place' 'The idea is to help readers discern something you know they'd be able to see, if only they were looking in the right place' What's the secret to writing well? As

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