Free Workshop with Me this Saturday!

Fast Fiction Workshop

In collaboration with Culture Days and the Neighbourhood Arts Network, Toronto Public Library hosts over 80 Toronto-based artists and arts organizations in a celebration of arts and culture at library branches throughout the city of Toronto. Lori Ann Bloomfield presents Fast Fiction Workshop! at Deer Park Library.

In this sixty minute workshop each participant will create a rough draft for a short story using writing prompts and timed writing exercises. Students will learn how to overcome creative blocks and generate ideas quickly. Through several short exercises, participants will produce a theme, a setting, characters, a conflict and write key scenes. By the end of the workshop everyone will have a rough draft of a short story to take home and continue to work on. All this, in just sixty fun, creative minutes!

Date & Time:

Saturday, October 1, 2011 — 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM


Deer Park Library, 40 St. Clair Ave. E. Toronto


"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."

~ Michelangelo

(Think about that a bit. How can you adjust your aim and reach a bit higher in your creative pursuits?)

Interview: Sage Cohen

Sage Cohen is the author of two nonfiction books, The Productive Writer (reviewed on this blog yesterday, click here to read) and Writing the Life Poetic, as well as the poetry collection, Like the Heart, the World. She also writes the popular blog, The Path of Possibilities. She is one of my favourite writers and I am so happy she has stopped by to chat. Welcome Sage!

First Line (FL): Sage, I loved The Productive Writer. You are obviously a very organized writer. As I was reading it I couldn’t help but wonder if your organizational skills extend to other areas of your life, as well. Tell me the truth, does your house look like an Ikea showroom?

Sage Cohen (SC): I'm thrilled that you love The Productive Writer! Thanks for taking the time to read it and talk to me about it!

The truth: My house looks like an Ikea showroom collided with a preschool in a high-speed chase. My office, however, is a space that I still have some control over. It's my sanctuary, and I try to keep it as beautiful and orderly as I'd like my client work and creative writing practice to be.

The other truth: I know how to be an organized writer; which doesn't always translate to actually being an organized writer.

FL: I know that you are also a talented poet. Do you have a favourite word?

SC: Oh, gosh. Favourite word. That's like choosing a favourite child or animal or type of potato. I will say that every year I choose a word for the year -- one that I am curious about understanding and inhabiting. This year, I am in pursuit of: grace.

FL: What was the best advice you received as a writer?

SC: It was more like anti-advice. A world-famous poet, who also happened to be my thesis advisor, told me that the problem with my poetry was that I was good at too many things. I couldn't figure out how such feedback might actually improve my poetry manuscript -- or anything else for that matter. And, like a pebble in my shoe, this strange comment has kept me just uncomfortable enough to eventually clarify that this teacher was giving name to an archetypal changing of the guard. He had bought into the "suffering artist" archetype, as was typical for artists of his generation. And here I was, good at all kinds of things, including poetry: the "thriving artist" archetype. I don't think he liked seeing a woman who could tie her shoes, chew bubble gum, and write a poem, and that's fine with me--change is uncomfortable for all of us. What that anti-advice did for me was clarify my position of which side of the artist fence I was on. It inspired me to take a stand for the balanced creative life in which poetry was an expression of abundance. I've been going public in defense of the thriving artist archetype ever since.

FL: What book do you think every writer should read?

SC: Every writer needs something different in the way of education and inspiration; I don't presume to have the single answer that will work for everyone. The book that was most significant to me in my foundational years was Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg. It gave me both permission and strategies to access what was most true and free in my thinking and writing. That book became the foundation of my writing practice. My suggestion is that each writer commit to finding the book that is their true companion -- and ignoring / discarding any advice along the way that doesn't resonate.

FL: If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be?

SC: 1. Painter. 2. Rock and roll star 3. Animal rights + world hunger activist

FL: Describe your work habits. When do you write? Where?

SC: I write for a living, and I keep regular, work-day office hours for my marketing communications business. I do that writing in a home office, at a desktop computer. My creative writing happens generally on my laptop, in bed, at all hours of the night. My prime creative writing time is 4 p.m. to midnight. Before I was a mother, I was able to honor this rhythm somewhat. These days, I'm lucky if I get an hour from 9-10 p.m. Then, I often find myself awake and writing between 4 and 6 a.m.

FL: What inspires you?

SC: Forests. Oceans. Bathtubs. Sushi. Literature. Good company. The right drum beat to match my mood.

FL: If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

SC: Jhumpa Lahiri. I would like to thank her for keeping me company in the woods that winter in my 20's, broken-hearted, swimming in words, with the most perfect collection of short stories I have ever read. She lifted me completely out of my small sense of possibility into some other place sculpted of words.

FL: Do you have any other creative talents? Do you paint? Play a musical instrument?

SC: I sing, drum, paint, and dance. I have also done some really terrible acting.

FL: What are you working on now?

SC: I have a collection of poems and a memoir in the works. I'm also getting ready to lead an online course for women to guide them through the death and rebirth process of divorce.

Thanks Sage!

To learn more about Sage Cohen and her work, visit her blog at:

Book Review: The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen

Sage Cohen is one of those writers I have longed admired. And who wouldn’t? She has written three books, runs her own copywriting business, teaches writing workshops, is an accomplished poet, writes the wonderful Path of Possiblilty blog and raises a family. In my opinion, Sage Cohen is a phenomenon. So, when I learned that her latest book was called, The Productive Writer: Tips and Tools to Help You Write More, Stress Less and Create Success, I had to read it.

The Productive Writer is two hundred pages of tightly packed information and inspiration. The first five chapters are about getting started as a writer, creating goals and finding ideas. Chapters six through twelve focus on getting organized, developing good work habits and finding time to write.

I especially liked Chapter Eleven, called “Embracing Fear.” Here, Cohen reasons that we all feel fear and since fear isn’t going to go away we should learn how to make it work for us. There are brilliant tips in this chapter on dealing with our inner critic, accepting ourselves as we are now, committing to taking risks and using fear as fuel.

Once Cohen has given you plenty of strategies to be more productive, she turns her attention to helping you build your career as a writer. Topics such as using the web and social media, finding and maintaining momentum, revising your work, getting published, building community, going public and promoting yourself are covered in the last third of the book.

The final chapter is called, “Skipping Down the Hill.” In it Cohen reminds us to celebrate our successes, and ourselves, and urges us to, “Take the Risk to be Happy.” It is a wonderful reminder of what is truly important in the writing life.

In addition to all the great information found in The Productive Writer there are also bonus downloadable worksheets and examples available on Sage Cohen’s website, The Path of Possibility to help get you even more organized!

The Productive Writer is overflowing with fabulous tips and advice that you can begin implementing immediately to see results in your writing life. If you are the type of writer who finds yourself starting projects but struggling to finish them, or you are trying to fit more writing time into your day, I especially think you will love this book. I know I did. Get yourself a copy of The Productive Writer and put yourself on the path to becoming your own phenomenon!

Week #151

Phil thought there was a fifty-fifty chance that what Larry said was true.


"To be a writer is to sit down at one's desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone - just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over..."

~ John Hersey

Week #150

Ruby took a deep breath and, with a shaking hand, added her name to the list.

Random Exercise

Read today's horoscope. What you will find is twelve possible stories (because there are twelve signs in the zodiac). Pick the one that is most intriguing to you and write a short story.

Writing Adventure

The seasons are changing and we are in a time of transformation. Take a walk with your notebook and notice what is changing. Really notice your surroundings. Are summer flowers giving way to the blossoms of fall? Is the sky a different shade of blue than it is at the height of summer? Does the wind feel different? Does the air smell different? How has the light changed? If nothing looks different to you today, write a description of what you see and make a date to repeat this exercise in a month's time. You are training yourself to sharpen your observational skills; you are learning to see like a writer.

Dialogue Exercise

Use this line of dialogue in a short story. It can be the first line, the last line or any line in between.

"I can't believe she dreamed up such a scheme, let alone did it!"

Upcoming Workshop

I will be giving a free writing workshop October 1st. If you can, drop by and say hello!

Fast Fiction Workshop

In this sixty-minute workshop each participant will create a rough draft for a short story using writing prompts and timed writing exercises. Students will learn how to overcome creative blocks and generate ideas quickly. Through several short exercises participants will produce a theme, setting, characters, conflict and write key scenes. By the end of the workshop everyone will have a rough draft of a short story to take home and continue to work on. All this in just sixty fun, creative minutes!

Date: Saturday October 1st
Where: Deer Park Public Library, 40 St. Clair East (At Yonge and St. Clair)
When: 12:30-1:30