Even a motivated writer can need a jumpstart to get the creative juices flowing. Rather than staring at a blank sheet of paper waiting for inspiration to arrive, why not try using writing prompts? A single Google search can yield a plethora of creative prompts. These can serve as a starting point for your endeavors. The work that comes out of using prompts could prove to be your best stuff, or it might take you in a creative direction you wouldn’t normally head in. Or the prompt might result in your worst writing ever, but the act of pushing through instead of giving up could pull you closer to your next masterpiece.
The Voices Project is a non-judgmental venue for women, and also men, to express their personal stories and observations through poetry to promote social change. They are dedicated to helping others feel empowered through self-expression. Recently, they published my poem “Nothing” on their website. Big thanks to the editors at The Voices Project for allowing me to contribute.
Lately, I’ve thought about what it means to be a writer. I’m a self-taught creative with a technical day job. I used to equate my worth as a writer to the number of publications my work appeared in. I felt as if I needed to legitimize myself in a world filled with accomplished MFAs.
Over time I have evolved – I’ve had work published in at least 200 periodicals, both in print and online, and won or placed in contests for both poetry and fiction. I know that I’m not a hack anymore. My work has faced off with some exceptional creative minds – sometimes winning, more often losing, but I’m sure my writing deserves the chance to compete. I’m not the most polished. I don’t have MFA connections or a book deal (yet). But I’m humbly certain my writing deserves the little bit of attention it steals from time to time.
With that manufactured confidence, my personal writing focus shifted from just getting work out there to crafting better writing on a daily basis. That transition has helped my growth, energy, quality, and work rate. Not to mention that spilling new ideas on paper is immensely more satisfying than obsessing over amassing empty publication credits.
All of this self-reflection fell in line with my thoughts as I read “What It Means to Be a Writer—and to Emerge as a Writer”—guest post by Albert Flynn DeSilver on Jane Friedman’s site. This article presents some unique insight on the term “emerging writer” and the transformation many writers experience as we hone our craft. It is a great read.
So what does being a writer mean to you?
Just like with any form of creative writing, blogging presents the challenge of generating ideas. This is especially true if you want to keep a steady flow of new content for readers.
So how should you go about creating new ideas for blog posts? This article by Vicki Krueger on the Poynter website provides some examples of basic constructs that can be used to spark successful blogging. Read them, implement them, then bask in the glory of your awesome blog!
Big thanks to the folks at the Bacopa Literary Review for including three of my poems in their 2017 issue, including “This Is Not a Protest Poem,” which won Honorable Mention in their annual contest. I appreciate the chance to contribute!
Here's the Amazon.com link to Bacopa Literary Review 2017 if you are interested in checking it out.
If you’re looking for guidance on developing a book of poetry, check out this blog post in which Marilyn McCabe shares everything she can think of on the subject of putting together a manuscript of poems. It’s easy to read and has some solid advice. It just might inspire you to piece together your poetic masterpiece.
This is a different kind of publication credit for me, but one that I am certainly proud of.
Recently, through my day job, I had a chance to write an article for Roads & Bridges magazine. It’s about using AVL technology to track roadside mowing operations, and much of it is based on a research paper that I helped develop for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. I appreciate the chance to contribute to the magazine and enjoyed flexing my non-literary writing muscles to publicize the innovative approach to mowing that MnDOT is taking.
Over at Jane Friedman’s blog, you’ll find some great advice on how to manage that internal negative voice that fights your creativity. Some guidance and resources on how to prevent fear from stifling your writing.
I was proud that I’ve read 25 books so far this year. That was until I read Srinivas Rao’s article “How to Read 100 Books a Year.” Now I feel like an underachiever.
But seriously, this article does contain some solid strategies on how to hit the lofty goal of devouring 100 books in a year…and consequently reap the benefits of becoming a more interested, cultured person. For me, reading the work of others is key to me making strides in my own writing practice, so I will be employing these suggestions to step my reading game up in the future.
The most powerful poems can carry a political message by re-enlivening and reactivating language. The idea of a poem as a vehicle for political protest is discussed over at the Bacopa Literary Review Editor's Blog in an insightful post. There is also a brief mention of my poem "This Is Not a Protest Poem,” which will appear in the October edition of the Bacopa Literary Review. Check it out!
Over on the Grammarly Blog, you’ll find a great article by Karen Hertzberg called “9 Things You Need to Give up to Be a Successful Writer.” In it, Ms. Hetzberg gives us all nine real tips that can help you become a better communicator right away.
The answer varies from writer to writer, but you will see some commonalities in their answers if you read “Inspiration, procrastination and the importance of pens: how writers write” over at The Spectator. In this article, Sam Leith curates a sample of different writers’ routines. A very interesting read. So what inspires you in your creative endeavors?
There is no shortage of blogging advice on the internet. But there’s a blogging article over on the Submittable blog that’s worth reading. “Read the Comments: Advice for Bloggers” by Stephanie Loomis Pappas tells you why you should study the comments on your blog. Pappas clearly explains how this will help to improve the quality of your postings and discover your target audience.
Yes it can, per Erika Dreifus’ article "Making Poetry Pay: Five Ways to Increase Your Poetry Income" on the Association of Writers & Writing Programs website. She provides some simple – almost obvious – guidelines for turning your poetry practice into cash.
One of these tips – aiming for 100 rejections per year – is already a part of my current writing endeavors. Still, I plan on studying all of this blueprint and incorporating the other action items soon.
Now I play the waiting game to see if it gets published...fingers crossed...
Here’s another useful resource – this post from The Watering Hole contains some helpful advice on writing submission cover letters. Follow this guidance and you’ll be a cover letter pro in no time!
Are you a writer or poet who wants to submit to literary journals and contests but has no idea where to start?
Fear not, for here is your blueprint: “Pitching and Moaning: A Guide to Submitting Your Writing”, a post by Tony Tulathimutte for Catapult. After reading this insanely useful guide, you’ll know everything you need to know in order to submit work to publications. Rock on.
As a writer and Toastmaster, I found this to be a great read: from textbooks.com, “11 Filler Words You Need to (Literally) Cut from Your Vocabulary.” It has great pointers about eliminating crutch words, and I can see how reducing these can strengthen both my writing and verbal communication.
Inscape is the Pasadena City College student literary magazine. PCC Students edit the literary magazine, market the magazine, design the magazine, and put it into print.
I am happy to announce that my prose poem “Everyone Has Motives” has been included in Inscape Online Volume 1 Issue 2 as part of “The 100.” “The 100” is a special feature of work inspired by the first 100 days of the current president’s administration.
I appreciate the chance to contribute to Inscape and to be able to voice my thoughts on the recent political climate.
“It was the first time I can recall experiencing the best kind of writerly jealousy—the kind that made me marvel at another writer’s work and strive to meet that standard in my own writing.…That kind of envy is a gift. It motivates, pushes, drives. It gives way to action rather than negativity and despair.”
There is an excellent post on writers and jealousy by Laura Maylene Walter over on the Kenyon Review blog. I think all writers should read it and recognize the beauty and ugliness of their writing-based envy.