Redefining north.

Notes from Crew Quarters: Our Rules for Writing

Notes from Crew Quarters: Our Rules for Writing


This week, we asked our editors: What rules about writing have you invented for yourself?

Robin McCarthy, Managing Editor

No backstory, ever. notevenalittlebitthankyouverymuch.

Amy Hansen, Associate Poetry Editor

Right now, I'm doing this thing where I can only have as many polysyllabic words in a poem as I have stanzas. It's not advisable.

Annie Bilancini, Associate Fiction Editor

Don't write only with the goal of publication. You might stop thinking about process and the joy of a good line. You might stop thinking about why writing matters.

Willow Grosz, Associate Fiction Editor

verb harder. feel more. I stole half of it from the publication page of Everything is Illuminated. Which feels like a very strange place to find writing advice, a publication page. Yet here we are.

Jacque Boucher, Spoken Word Poetry 

I impose fake deadlines and then procrastinate on them until the last minute. It manufactures the stress I need to write urgently without the threat of actually not getting something done.

Matt Ftacek, Associate Poetry Editor

I only do navel gazing and I'm not ashamed of that.

Kelsey Lueptow, Associate Poetry Editor

I've decided to always only ever make people uncomfortable. Because art.

Paige Frazier, Associate Nonfiction Editor

Write toward the discomfort.

Alex Clark, Associate Nonfiction Editor

Lately I've been allowing myself to write my way into things. Sometimes, being too critical or controlling about what goes on the page gets in the way of the creative process. Even if it's five pages of bullshit before the point of the piece, there's always time to edit later.

Stephen Wardell, Associate Poetry Editor

Exercise every day, as a reminder that your body is a tool, not a vessel for binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Mike Berry, Associate Fiction Editor

Not being afraid of letting a piece get weird or obsessive or downright creepy and not being afraid of wild revisions. Doing things like making the narrator a child or a potato are all viable options.

Matt Weinkam, Managing Editor

When I revise I cut words from a paragraph until the last line ends at the page edge. Then I resize the font or the margins and do it again.

John LaPine, Associate Nonfiction Editor

Don't censor yourself. Write it how it needs to be written. Anything written in a compelling enough voice will draw your readers in; be truly, madly interested in your content and your readers will be too.

Patricia Killelea, Poetry Editor 

i don't revise poems until after i've sat on them for about a year. also, i take people's advice about craft very seriously, but when it comes to their opinions about my content, i take that advice with a grain of salt.

Notes from Crew Quarters: Time and Place

Notes from Crew Quarters: Time and Place

Notes from Crew Quarters: Words that Stick With Us

Notes from Crew Quarters: Words that Stick With Us