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5 Top Writing Tips from IACP

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Writer, Cookbook Author and Writing Coach Crescent Dragonwagon

Here are some of the most useful tips I picked up from Crescent Dragonwagon’s IACP writing session:

1) Don’t overstylize your writing – if you force a voice or style on your writing, “it’s like breast augmentation. You might get a lot of attention briefly and then it’s gone.”

2) If you’re stuck on a word, write. Then redraft, redraft and redraft. Getting stuck on a word is like watching “a cat trying to catch a bug in the air.” Just let it come.

3) Practice writing every day without a goal. “Let go of the reins long enough to let the story take you.”

4) If you’re having a hard time focusing an idea you have for a story, try a writing exercise called dialoging, which Dragonwagon borrowed from American psychotherapist Ira Progoff. When we tried this in class, it shook loose a lot of ideas and the topic revealed its own character.

-Think of a topic, say, pizza. Then pick 8 defining moments in the life of that pizza and write them down from the point of view of the pizza. e.g. Regional iterations of me started popping up all over Italy, with a crispy thin crust in some areas, and a thicker one in others.

-Then write down 8 defining moments of you in relation to that pizza. e.g. Other kids with busy parents at my school used to order in pizza. I was always jealous because my mother categorically refused to allow takeout in the house.

-Then try a dialog between yourself and the pizza

e.g. 

Pizza: Why do you always order me with mushrooms, you weirdo? There are so many other toppings you could put on me.

Me: What can I say, I’m a creature of habit.

etc.

5) A great way to expand your writing vocabulary is by listening. For example, you could try writing down 4 things every day that you overhear.

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About francoiseeats

I'm currently working as a freelance travel and food writer, and photographer. I spent two years at StarChefs.com, the culinary on-line magazine for the industry insider. My articles have been published in New York, NY and Richmond, VA. After graduating from Columbia University and recovering from the tragedy of not being able to read Camus books for a living, I attended The Culinary Institute of America, where my scone consumption rose drastically. Fluent in French and Italian, I've worked in some of New York's top restaurants and covered food-related stories in a number of publications, from The Richmond Times-Dispatch to Time Out New York.

5 responses »

  1. Love the dialoguing trick – thanks for sharing these as I wished I could have been in every #IACPSF session 🙂

    Reply
  2. So glad the session gave you useful practices and new hings to chew on mentally, Francoise! That was a lovely group — a privilege to teach at IACP.

    Reply
  3. Excellent tips! I can immediately relate to how n where they will be if huge value! Thanks, Tim

    Reply

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