The difference I have noticed between successful writers who publish and people who want to be writers is the time commitment. The successful writer takes his/her writing seriously and carves out time daily to write.
The successful writer is disciplined about writing, if not daily, at regular intervals, and sticks to that schedule. We all go through periods of vacation, periods of time devoted to family and friends, but within those diversions, the writer has discipline about devoting time to the craft.
Never assume that something will get done because you’ve told yourself it will. Have a disciplined approach, and rely on writing groups, calendars, schedules, good word processing systems, in other words, the tools of the trade in good order. Then sit down and write.
It took me ten years to write my most recent collection, but I finished and published it. Take a look:
Storytelling, an ancient art form, allows writers to make sense of the world and derive deeper meaning from their lives since the beginning of human history.
Storytelling takes practice and there are things you can do to improve your technique. You want to have clarity when you tell a story. It should have a central theme and you should keep your eye on that theme as you go along. If you want to tell an engaging story, keep the tension up to the end. Be clear about the plot point that builds the story.
Great literature is crafted around characters that have great obstacles in their way, and eventually overcome them. You must embrace conflict if you want to engage your readers.
A good story has a beginning, middle and ending. A successful story might start with an inciting incident, lead into accelerated action, build to a climax and resolve. A good path to becoming a good storyteller is to read good storytellers. A good writer reads a lot. There’s a reason The Illiad and the Odyssey are still read after centuries of being told and written.
Observe good storytellers. See how they engage their audiences. This can be a family member who weaves tales of ancestors or a politician who engages the public
While reading other writer’s stories is essential, it’s also important to draw on your own experiences. This way your stories will ring true. Be an observer and use those observations. If you can’t use your recall for details, go research and re-experience. I recently revisited three locales I’m writing a story about: New York City, the Nevada desert, and the mountains of Costa Rica.
They say a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I often think of the writing process when I hear that old adage. Writing can seem laborious when we proofread, edit, revise. These are the mundane parts of the process. The joy, for me, is in the creation, but that’s only one stage of the writing process.
So try to enjoy the journey, and not just the final, published product. Writing groups can help as you can share your writing with others and self-edit along the way. Writing is an isolating activity and a group of writers can help with the isolation. You can also get good suggestions from fellow writers.
Readings can help also. Reading a work in progress can help to get feedback and it also helps to hear your work aloud. Samuel Butler says “I feel weak places at once when I read aloud where I thought, as long as I read to myself only, that the passage was alright…” The act of reading, line for line, can help the writer focus in a way that just rereading again can’t.
It took me ten years to write my most recent collection of poems, Touch My Head Softly (Finishing Line Press, 2021.) I kept starting and stopping, but reading the poems aloud in writing groups helped to keep me going. The members of my group also encouraged me to publish, which I eventually did.
The four elements: earth, wind, fire, water in your writing can be exhilarating. They can be used to make your plots more interesting, your poetry more vivid.
The four elements can be nurturing, but they can also destroy. There is much possibility in these primitive forces. Fire, for instance, can be cleansing or destructive at the same time. The four elements can also be nurturing and life affirming. Seeds in the earth, when it meets water, can grow plants. There is a cycle of renewal.
Nature’s climate is disconnected from the political climate. Birds sing, regardless of the presidential elections. It’s grounding to go out and take a walk in nature and think about the universality of life, and you’re writing,
I recently began a narrative poem about what would happen if the earth started drowning, as they’re predicting it will. What if nature really went wild and the water flooded the earth?
My most recent collection of poems touched on the world of illness and alternate states of reality. Check it out:
I am delighted to be included with more than 40 wonderful artists and writers in the new Forbes Library/Hosmer Gallery Exhibit: In This Together: A Virtual Exhibit on Planetary and Human Health running from July 5 to September 5, 2021.
Check out these wonderfully talented artists and writers:
Have you ever had the experience of finding someone who wrote a book on a similar topic to yours? It’s not exactly déjà vu, but there is definitely resonance there. I just published a collection of poems about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s and Dementia in his 60’s (Touch My Head Softly, Flutter Press, 2021.) and this book I discovered was about caring for an elderly mother with among other things, dementia (Why Is Grandma Naked?: Caring for Your Aging Parent,Kelsay Books, 2021.) The scenarios are not the same, but many similarities about caretaking and emotions in this situation are similar.
Author Ellen Pober Rittberg, playwright, talk-show host, attorney, writer, approaches the subject of caring for the aging family member, who wants to among other things, take off clothes in inappropriate situations, with humor and grace. My book of poems talks about, when my partner accuses me falsely of infidelity, of how to survive the ordeal of a loved-one in an altered state of reality.
Rittberg describes her journey with her mother as joyous, stressful, life-altering and worth every bit of energy because “we never know how long our parents will be with us.” My poetry is more a backward look at what went on to make sense of the experience. Rittberg talks about the nursing home dilemma, especially relevant post-pandemic, that she faced with her mother and family, My poems deal with the dilemma of the death.
Feel free to take a look at either or both books at:
University Professors Press is proud to announce the release of A 21st Century Plague: Poetry from a Pandemic edited by Elayne Clift. This book is a powerful collection of poems about the Covid-19 pandemic. We will be hosting a book release celebration with a poetry reading on Facebook Live on Wednesday, June 30 at 5:00 PM PST/6:00 PM MST/ 7:00 PM CST/8:00 PM EST. Like the University Professors Press Facebook page to receive a notification when the event starts. Use coupon code “21cp_nr2021” at the University Professors Press website to receive a 10% discount on A 21st Century Plague. The coupon is also good for the Poetry, Healing, and Growth Book Bundle (12 books), including A 21st Century Plague.Read more at https://universityprofessorspress.com/new-release-a-21st…/#poetry#poetrylovers#poetryisnotdead#poetrycommunity#poems#COVID19#covid#pandemic#pandemicpoetry
Check out University Professors Press Facebook Page for link:
If you are a writer, and you want to publish, you have to submit your work to a publisher, a journal, a magazine, a website….If you submit, you will be rejected. No one who submits goes without this inevitable experience.
I recall reading Thor Heyerdahl’s account of his myriad rejections of Kon-Tiki. He said one editor wrote that no one would buy into an account of a crazy person sailing 5,000 miles across the Pacific in a hand-made raft and another who said no one was interested in Oceana or sailing anymore.
Rejection can be valuable. It can cause us to re-examine, refine and re-edit. Maybe it will make our work better. You can learn things about the market from rejection. How can you make it more universally appealing? Remember, rejection is not personal. It’s about the work, not you. The publisher doesn’t even know you.
Sometimes rejections are worthless. Just because a person is an editor does not mean they’re qualified to pass literary judgments. But if you keep getting the same criticism of a piece, a repetition, then maybe it is a valid criticism that you could heed and use to rewrite.
I once got so frustrated with rejections, I wrote a poem about it:
Villanelle for the Rejected Poet
The Exalted Society regrets to inform
That despite your verse’s abstruse plot
Your poem was rejected by the Writers Reform.
We do not understand your sonata-like form
Your work has no rhyme nor school of thought
The Exalted Society regrets to inform.
We do not like to discourage or misinform
Please with some other place find a spot
Your poem has been rejected by the Writers Reform.
Do not whine, criticize, or fill out a claim form
Your work left us confused and distraught
The Exalted Society regrets to inform.
Do send a check or cash with this subscription form
With your handiwork contact us not
Your poem has been rejected by the Writers Reform.
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