In Brevity 22, Fall 2006, Brian Arundel's "The Things I’ve Lost" begins "Fleece hat and gloves: in the backseat of a Boston cab in 2002, before driving back to Maine. Round, purple sunglasses: in an Atlanta pool hall over drinks with Ashby, whose wife was determined to save their marriage by having a baby. A measurable dose [...]


We have all our mail through this past Thursday. I baked bread the next day. We're still getting our early walks, but there are unfamiliar people and dogs on the beach today. Yesterday the gale force wind was desperately chilling in the morning. Today is mild. So. Walking, baking, writing, and staying safe. This morning [...]

The Mentalist: Reward and Routine

Getting through a national crisis might be a little crazy like a police consultant following instinct and impression or it might be orderly like completing a pair of socks. Maybe it's a little of both. I have one sock of a pair in the works, knit top down. The leg part is done, the heel [...]


Today, and at least for the following four Mondays, I will post a writing assignment. Then later in the week, a weird revision strategy. Just for fun, write a fable . . . We will follow the conventions (rules) of a fable, at least at the beginning. They are relatively easy rules. If you have [...]

How To Generate Content

This is such excellent advice I decided to figure out how to “reblog.” (HINT: Allison K. Williams’ Brevity posts are always worthwhile.) Perhaps I will even try to take this good advice. I keep thinking this might be the time to share my best writing prompts, especially since Willamette Writers has postponed events (well, of course they have) so I don’t know when my presentation will take place.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

“Start a blog!” agents say. “Write a newsletter!” announce publishers. “You’ll build readership and be more attractive to agents and publishers!”

But what the heck do you put in it? Hey, I got rejected again by the same magazine?



(I do.)

The daily grind of your writing life is indeed fodder for bulletins every week or two. More than once a week gets annoying; less than once a month and people forget who you are and unsubscribe. Try to share your work the same time and day, so that people have a subconscious expectation of reading you, say, Tuesday mornings.

I have to write something every week? What if it’s not good? What if it’s not a diamond-sharp, multiply-revised presentation of my Best Thoughts Ever?

And a blog post or email newsletter is not a lengthy, many-drafted essay. In fact, the best content is:


Personal, and


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This morning I compared the message of an essayist to "The Gift." That poem by Li-Young Lee describes how self-discipline was taught to a young boy by his father, who calmly tells him a story while removing a splinter. Search for that story and you will find it. "to get the news from poems . [...]