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Personal Writing, Personal Space

As professional writers, we tend to get into the grind of making a buck, hitting those deadlines, and delivering results. It’s enough to make you forget why you started writing in the first place—your love of self-expression. Writing isn’t all about submitting, submitting,’s also about personal growth. When was the last time you wrote something entirely for yourself? We need to remember that is important too.

The benefits of personal writing are endless. When we write for enjoyment, we learn so much about ourselves. We work through problems and come up with solutions on our own, we relieve stress, we find our true voice, and perhaps, our true calling. That’s what we hope you’ll discover in this issue. Whether it’s memoir writing, poetry, personal essay writing, journaling, or blogging, you’re bound to find a creative outlet from the experts in this issue.

And what about personal space? I’m not talking “You’re invading my personal bubble” sort of personal space; I’m talking your surroundings. Having a comforting space to create is just as important as writing in it. In fact, it should probably come first! I know we’ve all heard the saying: “Let the dusting go,” but what if the dust is subconsciously affecting your writing? Sometimes, we need to clear the excess baggage to clear our minds and free our inner muse.

Ready to get started? This issue is all about YOU.

A big, warm, thank you goes out to our freelancers and staff members:

We welcome Mary J. Breen, a new freelancer, to the WOW! family. Mary teaches us how to bring our articles and essays into focus by creating writing charts. This step-by-step process is not to be missed!

We welcome back WOW! team member Chynna Laird! Her interview with Jenny Block, author of Open, explores life in an open marriage, as well as how we can get our work out there and noticed. We also want to congratulate Chynna on the birth of her beautiful baby girl, Sophie!

To WOW! columnist, Marcia Peterson, for her in-depth and motivational interview with Sheila Bender. If you’ve ever wanted to truly connect with your inner writer through journaling and poetry, you’re in for a treat.

To WOW! columnist, Susan Eberling, for providing us with two articles this month! Susan interviews poet, Karen Rigby, and gives us fabulous finds in our Must Have Personal Writing Utensils column.

To WOW! team member, LuAnn Schindler, for her uplifting article on positive journaling, featured in our Freelancer’s Corner column. Thank you LuAnn for coming through with a fantastic piece on such short notice! I bet we’ll be reading more from you very soon.

To C. Hope Clark for giving us a ton of great personal story markets in this month’s Funds 4 Writers column.

To WOW! team columnist, Margo Dill, for exploring ways to bring personal writing into your daily routine, as you’ll see at the bottom of this page.

To senior editor, Annette Fix, for her 20 Questions interview with Judith Barrington about writing literary memoir and poetry.

And to my interviewees this month! Thanks goes out to Jill Butler for giving me the courage to create the space I deserve, and to Darlene Chandler Bassett for giving women writers a room of their own. 



For all of you who are dancing around in anticipation of the contest results, we know you are excited and we look forward to revealing the winning stories soon. We've had so many amazing entries this quarter! As you may know (and for those of you who don't), the critique option was a new feature we offered to contestants. Unfortunately, we seriously underestimated the amount of time it would take to do all the critiques—so it has put us a tad behind schedule. I'm sorry we don't have a set time line for you, but just know that we are running like manic hamsters in a wheel to bring you all the wonderful WOW! content. When the results are posted on the site, we will send out a notification email to everyone.


WOW! Classroom Workshops
Within our community, WOW! has so many talented and diverse professional writers who teach others how to navigate the writing and publishing world. Whether you are searching for an agent, looking to break into freelance writing, wanting to learn how to perfect your query letter, or planning to take that first step to novel writing, WOW! wants to provide you with the resources to reach your goals. So, to do this, we will be launching the WOW! Classroom in September!

We have many wonderful instructors already on the slate and once their curriculum is finalized, we will be announcing the list in a special email blast. Class sizes will be limited, so if you see a workshop you want to take, you'll have to jump on it!

We do have a few spaces available for additional instructors, so if you teach a professional course for writers and would like to join the WOW! team, feel free to submit a query and your course description for consideration.

Holiday Gift Guide
We are always looking for ways to bring you useful content and products that will help you with your writing, publishing, and promotion journey. But we also know there are ways to combine what you love (books) with the other aspects of your life. So, we've come up with a new product we think will be a great resource and time saver for the upcoming holidays when you will be looking for great books to give as gifts or buy for yourself. It's never too early to get a jump on your gift shopping—or wish list making!

This holiday season we will be publishing a free Holiday Gift Guide as a downloadable PDF from the WOW! site with information about great books in 15 different categories of fiction and nonfiction from male and female authors.

And One for You – novelty gift books
Business Minded – business books
Dark & Stormy Night – mysteries, thrillers, suspense, crime
Food Festival – cookbooks, entertaining guides
Funny Bones – humor books
Heart Sleeves – romance, chicklit
Help is Here – advice, how to
Inside/Outside – health, fitness, nutrition, spirituality
Kid’s Corner – picture books, middle grade, young adult
On the Road Again – travel books
Picture Perfect – coffee table books, photography, film
Story Weavers – mainstream and literary fiction
Tech Deck – computer books
Trend Setter – fashion, music, pop culture
Who, What, Where – history, biography, memoir

The Holiday Gift Guide will be available in the November issue and will be the perfect resource for finding the hottest titles on the market to add to your wish list or give as gifts.

2009 Surprise Announcement Preview
It's in the planning stages, so all I can say is two words to give you a hint: WOW! Retreat. It's going to be the must-attend event in 2009. And one you definitely won't want to miss!

Stay tuned for so many wonderful things we have planned for you, our loyal readers.

And it has recently come to our attention that many readers don't know how to navigate the WOW! site to find all of the back issues of archived articles, interviews, etc. If you haven't had a chance to read and explore the back issues, you are definitely missing out! Go to the WOW! home page and look in the left sidebar above the fold. Find the gray button that says "Quick Links"—it will give you a drop down menu that will allow you to find everything by column and issue. Happy reading!

Onto the issue! Enjoy!






Angela Miyuki Mackintosh is Publisher, CEO, and Art Director of WOW! Women On Writing. She has been published in Maxim, Transworld Surf and Skate, Vice Magazine, and numerous trade publications for the action-sports industry. She is an award-winning artist whose works have been commissioned for public art by the city of Long Beach, and has received grants from Funds for Women.

Angela lives in Placentia, California with her husband, Michael, and her cat, Noodle.


Annette Fix is Senior Editor of WOW! Women On Writing. She began her writing career hawking her feature film spec scripts in Hollywood, nearly killed her muse by working as a freelance copywriter for various boring companies, and finally found her way to narrative writing, which feels like “dancing naked in a field of flowers” compared to her previous writing ventures. Annette is an author and a spoken-word storyteller who regularly performs in L.A. theaters. Annette's memoir, The Break-Up Diet is available in bookstores and online.

She lives in Southern California with her husband, her son, and two dogs.





Personal writing is important, whether it is in the form of a blog post, journal, email, handwritten letter, or a method such as “morning pages.” Sometimes, if we don’t take the time to do some personal writing, our personal lives eerily creep into our stories, articles, and novels. This can help some of our writing—especially if you are crafting a memoir—but it can also hurt our creativity. Have you ever said to yourself, “Why is my character doing that? She would NEVER do that. I would do it, but she wouldn’t.” This should be an A-HA! moment for you. Your personal feelings and opinions are getting in the way of your character’s life, and maybe it is time to do some personal writing to weed it out.

Why does personal writing seem so hard for most of us? Are we too close to the subject? Because we are writers, do we feel our personal writing also has to have good word choice, varied sentence structure, and a believable plot? Well, it doesn’t. Personal writing can be the worst writing you ever do, as long as it releases your feelings, records important events, or expresses your thoughts on life.

There are some methods I have used, and some I want to try to work more personal writing into my daily routine.

The first personal writing I do is by starting my day with email, and I usually end it the same way. Have you ever thought about how many feelings you convey in emails to friends and family every day? I recently wrote a post on WOW!’s blog about email being a help or a hindrance, and I beleive email can take too much of your writing time if you’re not careful. Email is replacing the old-fashioned tradition of handwritten letters, for the most part. If you use some of your email time to communicate with friends and family, it can actually help your other writing. It feels good when I email my best friend and just ramble on and on about things that are going well in my life or bothering me or even fun or exciting events that I am participating in. It doesn’t matter what I type to her. It clears my brain, and then I am ready to tackle my characters.

“Personal writing can be the worst writing you ever do, as long as it gets out your feelings…expresses your thoughts on life.”

If you haven’t tried blogging yet, I really encourage you to do this. Yes, starting a blog is great for marketing and getting your name into the public eye. But, it is also great for sharing your feelings. Children’s author Holly Black has a wonderful blog, which she calls a “live journal.”  She shares personal stories and feelings with her readers instead of just posting information about children’s writing. Her blogs about going to the movie premiere of The Spiderwick Chronicles are particularly insightful and fun to read. She expressed her nervousness and excitement about an important event going on in her life through her blog.

Your blog can do this, too, even if you don’t have a movie coming out. The Pasta Queen, Jennette Fulda, does a similar thing with her blog. She is writing about a very personal struggle with weight loss and exercise, but her blog helps her sort these feelings. She turned all of this writing into a book, Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir.

Recently, I posted on the WOW! blog about celebrity children’s book authors because it’s an issue with which I am struggling. I hate to be jealous and petty about other writers, but I am having trouble with the surge of celebrity authors writing children’s picture books and getting them published. So, I blogged about it, and it made me feel better to share my opinion with the world. It’s like cleansing your soul.

In The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, she stresses the importance of “morning pages.” Cameron describes this technique as three pages of handwritten, stream-of-consciousness writing, where you can put down anything on the page such as, “Did I remember to make the appointment to take the dog to the vet? Oh, I hate having to go to the grocery store and planning the meals for the day. That really ticked me off that my mom didn’t call me back last night,” and so on. You are supposed to use these personal writing pages as a way to unlock your creativity and stop being so critical about your work.

“It’s like cleansing your soul.”

This issue of WOW! is full of ways to get your personal space and personal writing in tune, so you can be the writer you want to be. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t do too much personal writing or if your life leaks into your characters. Maybe this works for you. If you feel guilty, use some personal writing time to blog or email about your guilt! If your life leaks into your writing and makes you too tired to think, or too brain dead to create, then try some personal writing mentioned here or in this issue.

As writers, it seems the best method for expressing our emotions, problems, thoughts, political views, and so on, should be through the written page. Won’t you go on a personal writing adventure with me?


Margo L. Dill is a freelance writer and elementary school teacher, living in Mahomet, Illinois. Her work has appeared in publications such as Grit, Pockets, Missouri Life, ByLine Magazine, and The News-Gazette. Her first book, Finding My Place, a middle-grade historical novel, will be published by White Mane Kids in 2009. When she's not writing, she loves spending time with her husband, stepson, and two dogs—Charlie, a boxer, and Hush Puppy, a basset hound. You can read more about Margo at

Margo is a columnist for WOW! Women On Writing.


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