This past weekend, a friend and I shared poems we’d written to see what we could learn from each other’s work. Reading our poems and talking about the subtext of them made me think about how writing poetry — from idea to finished poem — is about the magic of the subconscious melding with conscious craft decisions. But then I’m beginning to realize that all writing is ultimately that way.
Poems come to me in many forms, including: A purposeful exploration about a subject or person, a chance encounter that hits me in the chest, or an observation of two people interacting. Sometimes it can be hard to explain how one moment elicits a response or a “knowing” that I must record it in a poem.
If you’re looking for poetic inspiration, try these writing ideas:
1. Find a new format. Write a poem in the form of a personal ad.
2. Set limits. Constraints often fuel creativity. Think of an idea for a poem and then limit yourself to a set number of words to express it. Read more
When editing my work, I inevitably discover more of my bad habits. When I do, I add them to my editing list so I can be sure to catch them later. Some of these bad habits are listed in my post, “Edit out literary throat clearing to make your work stronger.”
My current work-in-progress is told from the first person point of view. In reviewing recent chapters, I discovered I was using too many “filter” words: I saw, felt, heard, thought, noticed, and especially, I “glanced.” Cheez Whiz. I must have had this last verb six times in one chapter!
But it’s not just first person narrative where this is a writing sin. How many times have you read, “She touched, he heard, she saw, he felt…?” Read more
In my last post, “Busting the writing myth of ‘not enough time,’” I wrote about author Heather Sellers’ belief that this concept of not having enough time is really a misdiagnosis of what ails us as writers. Our real problem, she says, is that we try to be, “everything to everyone,” and, as a consequence, become drained. We literally don’t have enough energy left to finish our writing projects.
I definitely fall into this category. I run a busy, full-time business with my hubby where I often begin work around 8 a.m. and work up until the time I drop into bed around 11pm to midnight. Yes, we take breaks during the day—lunch, dinner, exercise (hopefully), and we have the freedom to do what we want, when we want, but it’s a hectic lifestyle. I struggle with fitting my writing time in early in the day before I become too tired to do anything but drool on the keyboard.
In her book, Chapter After Chapter: Discover the Dedication and Focus You Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams, Sellers suggests making a list of everything we do in a week. Read more
Our parents give us our first view of the world. We incorporate their lessons into our lives and, sometimes, we spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn these beliefs and developing our own worldview.
The other day, I was wondering what the characters in my work-in-progress have learned from their parents about love.
Growing up, I learned some very specific things about love: Read more
One of the best things about writing is the way it surprises me, the way I sometimes look back on something I’ve written and think, “Did I write that?” This element of surprise reminds me that so much happens beyond our conscious state.
Here are several posts you might have missed that will inspire you to let go and find the story that lives in your subconscious.
In How to write in your sleep, I share some tips about using the power of sleep to find new revelations in your writing.
Read Trust in randomness and mine your subconscious with this writing exercise to see how you can use your subconscious and observational instincts to write a new poem or piece of flash fiction.
Become a prolific writer by harnessing creative flow offers tips to put yourself in a trance so you can immerse yourself in your writing world.
What is your favorite way to find creative flow?
Is there a short story you’re struggling to write? Sometimes, you have to let the story write itself. I generally like to have an outline of some sort before I start writing, but lately I’ve experimented by starting with a remnant of an idea, or a character, or even just one sentence or phrase.
I realized that with one of my stories, I was simply trying too hard. I was over thinking it. If you’re stuck, try letting go and having faith that your story will reveal itself.
Try these exercises to find your way into a short story:
1. Make a list of 60 first lines. Let the list sit for a few days or weeks. When you look at it again, see which ones resonate. Pick one and imagine the next line. Work on it a little very day, adding sentences and paragraphs. Some of the lines may never work into a story, others may inspire something new and you might find them taking you in new and unexpected directions. Read more