Gail Anderson-Dargatz

Resources for Writers

On The Writer's Life

As Ann Eriksson points out in her blog, many women writers believe or are told that having a family means an end to their writing career. Years ago, I did a reading in Toronto with Margaret Atwood and a handful of other women writers. I was just about to turn 40 and was pregnant at the time, a fact I mentioned on stage. Afterwards a woman came up to me and said that she wanted a family but was afraid she would never write again if she did. Then she burst into tears. I said, how far along in your pregnancy are you? She said three months, but I haven’t told my publisher yet.

Carol Shields wrote around the domestic needs of her five kids early in her career. When she was asked if being a mother changed how she wrote she said, “Oh, completely. I couldn’t have been a novelist without being a mother. It gives you a unique witness point of the growth of personality. It was a kind of biological component for me that had to come first. And my children give me this other window on the world.”

That bit of advice helped me out: to think of family obligations, and work obligations, as aids to writing, rather than hindrances. For example, though there has been much talk lately about how multitasking is bad for you, I did learn both patience and multitasking from being a parent. Parenthood has changed how I write, of course. I tend to write in little chunks of time now. I’m also much more flexible as a writer and I find I do quite a lot of writing while doing other tasks. I’m “writing” while I wash dishes, or as I do a load of laundry, or fold laundry, or pick up after the kids. Not always, of course, as kids are definitely a distraction, but a good chunk of the time. My husband has already grown accustomed to that blank look on my face that means that although I’m here in body, my mind is somewhere else.

(Photo: Mitch Krupp)

Resource Categories

Blogs on Craft

On the Building Blocks of Fiction

Tips on how to craft vivid scene that allows the reader to experience events right along with the characters.

On Finding Your Big Idea

Insights into the writing process and what a writer's day really looks like, as well as perspectives on research and writing from real life.

On Getting to Know Your Characters

Advice on the many ways you can make your characters come alive on the page for both you and your reader.

On Deciding on Point of View

What is the best perspective from which to tell your story? Writers discuss how they made choices on point of view and voice.

On Choosing Your Situation and Setting

Writers talk about how they use situation and setting to build story and convey emotion.

On Developing Conflict and Structure

From how to work in different genres to finding the real story, writers offer good advice on building conflict and structure.

On Revising

Tips on how to gain distance from your work and to how to re-imagine your next draft.

On Publishing

Writers offer practical advice on the business of writing and promotion, and on the importance of finding a writing community.

On Making a Living as a Writer

Writers offer words of wisdom on living on less.

On The Writer's Life

Writers talk about their life as a writer.

About Gail

Gail's novels have been national and international bestsellers and two have been short-listed for the Giller Prize, among other awards. She works with writers from around the world on her online teaching forums.