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Writing Road Trip

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Pulled Over

by Lisa Bullard My brother’s wed­ding rehearsal is in three hours, but my cousins and I take a jaunt from Hous­ton to Galve­ston any­way. Then a cop car pulls us over. One cop stands behind our car, gun drawn; anoth­er leans men­ac­ing­ly into the win­dow and grills us. Even­tu­al­ly, he admits that our car and the three of us match the descrip­tions of the per­pe­tra­tors of a just-com­mit­t­ed, seri­ous crime.… more

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Collecting Souvenirs

by Lisa Bullard Not all writ­ers can claim the vast and var­ied assort­ment of sou­venir snow globes I’ve acquired on my trav­els. But most writ­ers I know are con­stant­ly col­lect­ing oth­er things: sto­ries, words, images, emo­tions, quirky char­ac­ters, new expe­ri­ences, and odd­ball facts. These “writ­ing chachkas” clut­ter the rooms of our imag­i­na­tions until we need inspi­ra­tion Then we pick one up, shake it, and watch to see what lands in our writ­ing.… more

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Heavy Baggage

by Lisa Bullard I wrote in “The Beau­ty of Road­blocks” about how stu­dents some­times for­get to include the crit­i­cal ele­ment of conflict in their sto­ries. Some­times I’m faced with a differ­ent prob­lem: a kid will include painful, intense conflict — some­thing that is clear­ly based on their own expe­ri­ences. Some young peo­ple car­ry around “heavy bag­gage,” and a writ­ing road trip can unex­pect­ed­ly wrench those bags open.… more

At the wheel

Taking the Wheel

by Lisa Bullard Some days I real­ly wish I was bet­ter at being a bad writer. Here’s why. Draft­ing, that ear­ly stage of writ­ing when you are just try­ing to cap­ture your ideas, usu­al­ly works best if you can get words down as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. But my inner edi­tor is hor­ri­bly crit­i­cal. If I let that inner edi­tor take the wheel while I’m draft­ing, it’s as if my car has hit a patch of ice: my wheels start spin­ning, I skid, and even­tu­al­ly I crash into a snow bank.… more

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The Beauty of Roadblocks

by Lisa Bullard Can you guess which of these real­ly hap­pened? a) After acci­den­tal­ly invad­ing the Stur­gis Motor­cy­cle Ral­ly, my trav­el­ing com­pan­ion and I were in a three-way stand-off: our car, a Harley, and a 1,000-pound buf­fa­lo. b) I peered over a hotel bal­cony high above the Mis­sis­sip­pi, watch­ing the bomb squad and 50 oth­er emer­gency vehi­cles squeal into the park­ing lot direct­ly below.… more

One of these things is not like the other

Packing Your Bags

by Lisa Bullard One of the basic writ­ing exer­cis­es I use with kids starts with hav­ing them cre­ate per­son­al “Time Cap­sules” (down­load the activ­i­ty). It’s a great way to explore how writ­ers build a char­ac­ter through the use of “telling” details — in this case, the items a char­ac­ter val­ues the most. But a person’s stuff can reveal more about them than just the obvi­ous.… more

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A Writing GPS

For a cou­ple of years run­ning I was hired for two-week “writ­ing road trips” across the south­west­ern Min­neso­ta prairie. On my dai­ly jour­neys I often passed with­in a few miles of the banks of Lau­ra Ingalls Wilder’s Plum Creek. But I didn’t have time to stop and vis­it Famous Author Land­marks. I had been hired on as a “Famous Author” myself, to vis­it a series of schools and talk to stu­dents about writ­ing.… more

Lisa Bullard

Traveling In-Word

For this week’s writ­ing road trip, I jour­neyed to the Alpha­bet For­est. For those who haven’t had the plea­sure of vis­it­ing, the Alpha­bet For­est is the remark­able cre­ation of author/illustrator/innovator Debra Frasi­er, who through pure pas­sion and per­sis­tence, man­aged to carve out an oasis for words in the midst of the con­sum­able crazi­ness that is the Min­neso­ta State Fair.… more