Writers Write!

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writin...

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The poem below is inspired by the day to day minutia experienced by writers that have every great intention of writing but things gets in the way. Fortunately, I was able to stop myself this week to get this poem finally out of my head. Let me know how you are moving along with your writing projects.

“Writer’s Write,” the book publisher said,
As she completed an inspiring address.
Living those two words in day to day chaos
Is not easy and often a mess.

Writers Write.
That means pen to paper, fingers to keys
So why is the story still in my head?
My thoughts run into roadblocks
Wrapped in fears I’d like to unwed.

Writers Write!
Giving myself a little credit
I have a full time job.
And two if parenting counts,
Picking up the pen to write after a full day’s work
Is more often than not a difficult thought.

Writers Write!
And wrestle too with so many things.
Should this character be this way or that?
Should the ending result in love or a spat?
And don’t start writing anything until all is exact.

Writers Write!
Move beyond the blocks.
Many we create on our own.
Imperfect characters do have merit.
Let go of your fears and move on.

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Poetry 1-2-3, Easy as Writing About a Tree!

Weeping Willow, shot in Auckland, New Zealand ...

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There is really no “rhyme or reason” on how to write a good poem. Most people think of poetry as short creative pieces with rhythm, stanzas or some musical flow. However, many strong poems are written that do not rhyme at all. The Haiku poem is a great example of this.

My love of poetry started at an early age. My father would recite poems to us often and would use them as a way to bring about humor in serious situations, much to the chagrin, of my conservative mother. For example a favorite dinner blessing of his for his family of 10 on a limited budget was:

“Lord have mercy on us, keep our neighbors from us, and if they should happen to stumble upon us, please ensure they don’t eat all the food from us.” This was his standard grace and it drove my mother nuts.  At the same time, it intensified my love for poetry.

Through elementary and high school, we competed in church speaking events.   We’d memorize poems, compete locally in our church and the winner would compete for top prize at a convention in front of a big crowd of  people. This was quite an exercise, researching for that perfect poem to take the top honor.  Soon, poetry soon became a significant and fun part of me. To write a really good poem, it’s always a safe bet to write about something that you observe about life, something that inspires you or perplexes you in some meaningful way. The more honest and transparent you are, the higher the probability that we will be able to connect with the poem.

Today,  I’ve chosen an example of a poem to highlight that poetry can really be about anything. Any topic that brings about an emotion or make you stop to think differently.  This poem was inspired by seeing the sagging limbs of a weeping willow out of my neighbor’s kitchen in South Carolina. Yes, a poem about a tree. Enjoy it.

Weeping Willow
Weeping Willow, why are you down?
Hold your head up.
You have no reason to frown.
Look at Your Arms.
So long and lean,
Provides an abundance of shade,
And you’re always green.
You keep us cool.
On a hot summer day,
We hide under your bosom.
And I’m glad you’re that way.
Weeping Willow, Weeping Willow
Stand up tall.
We all have a purpose.
Despite our shortfalls.

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Writer’s Block Is Not Terminal

Writer's Block

Writer’s Block is not terminal although it certainly does feel that way when you are in the middle of  one.   Deemphasizing the block and increasing your awareness of when you are in an optimal writing zone is key to unlocking your block.  If you haven’t been in a successful writing zone for a while, consider one or more of the following:

Extreme Makeover: Create an environment that will signal clearly you are in a “Writing Construction Zone.”  This may include a special room or location in your home, a reserved room in the library or someplace else, special music, or wearing a favorite shirt, etc.   Author Maya Angelou accomplishes this by renting a hotel room for a day. She carries a writer’s tool box with her that includes things like her favorite glass of sherry , Roget’s Thesaurus and The Bible.  She creates an environment that signals to her, it’s time to get serious about writing.  You cannot copy an environment.  Rather, it’s important to create your own and know what gets you going.

Block off time on your calendar for writing.  Similar to exercising, muscles are developed as a result of consistency in your habits.  It is hard to stick to a haphazard schedule and getting back on track after slacking off for any period of time is tough. Writing is very similar.  It is a muscle that has to be developed.  Try to stick as close as you can to a fixed writing schedule and play it towards your strengths.  For ex. I prefer writing in the mornings and also create mini deadlines because the pressure of a fixed timeline fits with my working style and keeps me on task.

Just write. Write about things that you are passionate about to get your juices flowing.   We far too often get stuck because we allow our mind to fast forward in advance.  We are afraid of the end product before the first word is penned.   We worry that it will not turn out perfectly or we are overly analytical questioning which direction to take the piece or a character.  Just write.    It may not turn out perfectly but you can’t improve anything if it isn’t written down. 

Sleep your way to the top.  Getting plenty of rest each night will ensure a super sharp and clear mind. Increasing your sleeping by just 1.5 hours will increase your alertness by 32% according to a WebMD feature.

Surround yourself with other people that are jazzed about and value writing.  You will be amazed at how your writing will grow leaps and bounds and sharpen over time just by being actively involved with others that share a common interest.  I’m a part of a writing group and I’ve learned more from this group than I did all of those expensive english classes my parents paid dearly for me to attend.
So, the next time you find yourself in a block. Be honest about where you are and don’t allow yourself to stay in this space too long. “Easy reading is damn hard writing. “ Writer’s Block may find itself appearing in your home; think of it as a pop quiz and a gift to assess what needs to change to get you back in your groove. I would love to hear your thoughts about your writing blocks and how you get through them.  Please post your tips or experiences below.

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