Tag Archives: writing


Hogwarts Is Here, And It’s The Most Magical Massive Open Online Course Ever.

Harry Potter Fans, being the wonderful but sightly intense creatures that they are, have done it again: they have found a new way to bring the magic a little closer to home.

A team of dedicated volunteers have designed and built a thoroughly imaginative and awesome MOOC, or Massive Open Online Course, which is, according to the website,

“…Thanks to the efforts and resources (plus a little magic) from the Wizard-Muggle Integration Movement, … entirely free.”

Excuse us for a moment while we regather our composure.

That moment you heard JK Rowling questioning Hermione and Ron’s romance.

Ok. We’ve got it.

This is the perfect nine-week course for all of us who lived vicariously in the hallways of Hogwarts and dreamed of receiving our own magical letter. It is ideal for all those have debated anything about the Harry Potter Universe, from the logistics of the Ministry of Magic to the plumbing of the magical world. It’s also fantastic for writers in general, as a lot of the course content is based upon creative (but serious) essay writing.

Alex Heinbach, writer for Slate and now a Ravenclaw student, enrolled for the course and wrote a little about it here, but if you’re already sold on the idea, you can go to Hogwarts is Here to sign up.

It’s really too much fun not to.


Are you already a course member? What house did you enroll in?  Are you chillin’ in Slytherin? Learnin’ stuff in Hufflepuff? Let us know in the comments, or go ahead and just tweet at us!

Plan, Even A Little: How to Write a Book in 30 Days


credit: jjpacres
credit: Jeffrey James Pacres

 When it comes to writing, some of us are plotters, who will map out each detail of the story before they begin writing their first draft.  Others are “pantsers”, who write the story as it comes to them, flying by the seat of their pants.   Even if you fall into the latter category, a little planning will save you time and energy.

Below are eight simple steps to help you conquer your plan to write a novel in 30 days:

1.  Self-identify.

Establishing the method of planning best suited towards to takes a little bit of introspection.  Highly valuable introspection.  Its better to spend a half an hour asking yourself how you work best than trying to force your self into an impersonal plan of action. To get you started, author (and advocate of highly colourful language- just a heads up )Chuck Wendig has you covered with 25 Ways to Plot Plan and Prep your story.

2.  Create space. 

Designate a regular writing area.  It doesn’t have to be an office anymore than a latte-stained table at Starbucks.  Having a writing space will create a sense of purpose that will come in handy as you start your thirty-day writer’s marathon although you are not obligated to write there exclusively.  Write when you feel compelled to, no matter where you are. Unless you’re driving.  Do not write while driving.  If your muse demands you write that very moment, pull over.

3.  Set aside time.

There are a lot of early birds that seem to advocate writing when the sun rises, or even before then, but this doesn’t work for everyone.  Some of us will dedicate that time to yoga,  seeing our kids of to school or, let’s be honest, sleeping.  The point is to make the time to write.  Five in the morning?  Sure!  A few hours in the evening?  Why not?  On your two-hour lunch?  Go for it, you lucky dog.

4.  Respect your time.

The next crucial step is to sit down to your writing space, on time, and write.  You’ve made a commitment to write for two hours before Survivor comes on, so stick to it!   Much like skipping doctor’s appointments or dinner with your in-laws, postponing or cancelling your writing time will cost you in the long run.

5.  Create smaller goals.

Writing a book is a big goal, and theres nothing wrong with big goals… except that they can be scary and intimidating and make us want to curl up on the couch eating Cheetos instead of writing.  DO NOT GIVE UP ON THAT BIG GOAL.  Instead, bring down that beast of a challenge by breaking it into smaller goals.  NaNoWriMo prescribes to a word count of 1,666 per day, but feel free to march to the beat of your own drum.  Write for two hours, write three chapters, write until you have to pee,  it’s completely up to you!  As with all goals, ensure they are challenging but tangible.

5.  Stttrreeeeeeeeettttch.

Stand up.  Stretch.  Sit down.  Keep writing.

6.  Stay put. 

If you are anything like me, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR WRITING SPACE.  Stay in your writing space until you are finished for the day, or distraction will get you.  Do not allow yourself to stray beyond the confines of your writing abode unless absolutely necessary, and no, a refill on Cheetos is not absolutely necessary.

7.  Socialize.

When you aren’t writing, make sure you spend time talking to real people.  Your characters might be amazing, but voices in your head aren’t the only ones you should hear.   If you’re dying to get back to work, fear not! Consider conversations with colleagues, friends or family a chance to bounce ideas off of them about your plot line or characters.  If you’re the secretive type, consider whether your characters could learn a thing or two from your own personal interactions.

8.  Keep going.

Sometimes writing hurts, and that’s okay.  Sometimes we hate our characters.  Sometimes we don’t know what to say.  Write anyways.  Keep going, it will be worth it.

If you don’t finish a novel in thirty days, do not beat yourself up.  Ultimately, quality is what matters most, and there is noting wrong with needing more time to do that.