Jonathan Rogers

Jonathan Rogers is the author of The Terrible Speed of Mercy, one of the finest biographies of Flannery O’Connor we've ever read. His other books include the Wilderking Trilogy–The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Secret of the Swamp King, and The Way of the Wilderking–as well as The World According to Narnia and a biography of Saint Patrick. He has spent most of his adult life in Nashville, Tennessee, where he and his wife Lou Alice are raising a houseful of robustious children.


You Are Not Your Work: On Receiving (and Ignoring) Feedback

By Jonathan Rogers

Every time I start a new online class, I send my students an introductory email that includes the following “Word About Feedback”:

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On Not Being the Smartest Person in the Room

By Jonathan Rogers

In a recent interview with Terri Gross, the writer David Sedaris remarked, “I’m rarely the smartest person in the room. I have other qualities, but searing intelligence is not one of them.”

David Sedaris is a hilarious writer and an excellent prose stylist, so it is tempting to chalk this up to false humility. But I’ve been pondering his remarks in my heart, and I think there’s a lot of wisdom in separating excellent writing from “searing intelligence.”

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Flipping The Switch: From Consumer To Producer

By Jonathan Rogers

“If you want to be a writer, be a reader.” This may be the most commonly-offered writing advice of all. And it’s good advice as far as it goes. But encouraging writers to read has always felt to me like encouraging teenage boys to eat three meals a day and maybe a couple of snacks. People who want to write tend to be people who are already reading. I think. Right?

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On Beginning Without The End In Mind

By Jonathan Rogers

Begin with the end in mind. That’s Habit 2 of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In most human endeavors, this is excellent advice. In large matters and small, beginning with the end in mind helps ensure that the steps you take move you in the right direction. I heartily commend this advice to you…in all areas of your life besides writing.

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Making Friends with the Inner Critic

By Jonathan Rogers

I’ve gotten a few questions lately about how to start writing a book or story or essay. For many writers, the blank page or blank screen is a terror and a seemingly insurmountable barrier. So how do you get started?

There are a million substitutes for starting. You can outline, you can puzzle out plot problems, you can research. For years I’ve been wrestling around with a particularly sticky point-of-view problem for a novel that I “want” to write. I put “want” in quotation marks because if I really wanted to write it, I would be writing it instead of wrestling around with point-of-view problems.

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What’s So Bad About the Passive Voice?

By Jonathan Rogers

[Editor’s note: Jonathan Rogers has begun a newsletter in which he shares many years’ worth of practical advice on the craft of writing. He named it The Habit because, as he says, “good writing isn’t so much a matter of brilliance as a matter of habit: habits of seeing, habits of thinking, habits of working.”

What follows is a peek into his wisdom. If you’d like to read more, you can sign up for his newsletter here.]

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Inviting Your Reader Into A Scene

By Jonathan Rogers

[Editor’s note: Jonathan Rogers has begun a newsletter in which he shares many years’ worth of practical advice on the craft of writing. He named it The Habit because, as he says, “good writing isn’t so much a matter of brilliance as a matter of habit: habits of seeing, habits of thinking, habits of working.”

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On Finding Your Voice

By Jonathan Rogers

[Editor’s note: Jonathan Rogers has begun a newsletter in which he shares many years’ worth of practical advice on the craft of writing. He named it The Habit because, as he says, “good writing isn’t so much a matter of brilliance as a matter of habit: habits of seeing, habits of thinking, habits of working.”

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No Story Is Over: City of Man, City of God

By Jonathan Rogers

This past Sunday my pastor remarked that people who have been transformed by the gospel don’t say things like “I would never pay for somebody else’s healthcare. They don’t deserve it.” That surprised me, because Read More ›

The Get-Well Card, Revisited

By Jonathan Rogers

This is the story I read at Rabbit Room Live 2017. The first part, up to the ellipsis, reproduces one of the first pieces I ever wrote for the Rabbit Room, in 2007 or 2008. Read More ›

Writing with Flannery O’Connor

By Jonathan Rogers

Besides being a brilliant writer, Flannery O’Connor wrote quite a bit about the craft of writing. In this six-week online course, we will look at O’Connor’s essays about writing in Mystery and Manners, examine ways that she implemented her principles in her short stories, and implemented her principles in her short stories, and implement those principles ourselves in short writing exercises.

Writing With Flannery O’Connor: An Online Creative Writing Course

By Jonathan Rogers

Besides being a brilliant writer, Flannery O’Connor wrote quite a bit about the craft of writing. In this six-week online course, we will look at O’Connor’s essays about writing in Mystery and Manners, examine ways that she implemented her principles in her short stories, and Read More ›