Using Your Dreams in Your Writing

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Do you dream at night? Do you remember your dreams? Have you ever used your dreams in your writing? Whatever thoughts, ideas or imaginations your mind comes up with when you sleep can be translated into creative writing.

I find the first step is to write down your dreams. Keep a notebook and pencil by your bed and write them down as soon as you wake up. Some psychologists believe that when farmers went to bed at sundown and rose at sunrise, they would wake up in the night and use the middle of the night as their creative time, including writing time.

Think of your dreams as writing prompts, rather than a whole novel. Although some fiction writers do write down their dreams. It may be a creative idea that is nagging at you to come out. The world is stressful these days, and frightening thoughts might come up, but use them as the start of a poem or story.

William Blakes “Land of Dreams” came from his very lively subconscious:

Awake, awake my little Boy!

Thou wast thy Mother’s only joy:

Why dost thou weep in thy gentle sleep?

Awake! Thy Father does thee keep.

I will blog on Thursdays, with announcements on Tuesdays, when I have them. Follow me on WordPress.

April Is Poetry Month

“Glory be to God for dappled things —
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim.”

–Gerard Manley Hopkins, Pied Beauty

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Beautiful, precious things make life worth living, especially in these difficult times. Poetry is a celebration of the beauty, and sometimes lack of it in life.

It’s important to make beauty in the world, especially when war and violence are a threat. I make beauty, as many poets do, in my poetry. This beauty makes life worth living, even in depressing times. In fact, I try to write through the despair.

And it’s important to remember to be grateful for this beauty. Everyday, in my meditation, I find something, even on bad days, to be grateful for, i.e. the sounds of the spring peepers at my local pond, the small green sprouts of spring, etc. I’m sure you can add to this list.

I will continue to blog on Thursdays, with announcements, as they come along, on Tuesdays.

How Does a Writer Decide on the Next Project?

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When you finish a manuscript, there is usually a down time for reflection, but then, as a writer, you need to start on a new project. I find this phase challenging because I often have many ideas percolating, but don’t know which one to choose to pursue. It’s a commitment.

There’s not enough time to pursue all my ideas, so the issue is which projects to pursue and which to pass by, maybe forever. So I ask myself, is this the right concept for a poem, narrative for a story?

There’s a project that’s right for you, and only you can find it. I recently published a book of poetry and now I am in search of a project. Check out my book at:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

I will continue to blog about the writing process on Thursdays and blog announcements, if I have any, on Tuesdays.

Writing as an Antidote to a Crumbling World

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I woke up last night in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep, war on my mind. The new poem I had written that day needed a title. I got out of bed and added the title to the poem.

This act of writing can be a savior in these dark times. The writing is a form of sanity for me. If I am writing about current events or not, it is a way of keeping myself focussed on something positive.

My creative visualizations are on world peace these days. My creative writing takes me anywhere it leads me.

I will continue to blog on Thursdays, with announcements on Tuesdays.

The Best Friend of the Writer

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The best friend of the writer can be the writer her or himself. As writers, we crave praise, awards, good reviews, and the affirmation of the publisher, but if we remember the joy of the creative process, we don’t need the positive feedback of others.

As a poet, I work often alone and in solitude. Books tend to be published quietly also. There may be a book launch, but aside from that, people buy and read our books on their own. This doesn’t mean that our books don’t touch people or have a lasting effect. A writers, we know the books that have made that special impact on us and we have to trust that our writing will have an effect on our readers.

We entered into the art of writing for deeper reasons that passing attention and it’s best to get in touch with those internal reasons, rather than looking for external affirmations. That way, when the praise comes, it will be a pleasant reminder of our internal worth as writers, and we truly will be our own best friends.

I’ll be blogging on Thursdays and posting announcements on Tuesdays, as they come along.

Writer’s Block

Writer’s block, or when an author is unable to produce new work, happens to all writers.

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Try writing something of special interest to you.  Write down all the primary ideas you’d like to write and then write the smaller ideas that make up the big ideas. Then write an outline of these ideas.

Now you have an outline that is a starting point.  Research your topic.  Then write down your own thoughts on the research.  Identify gaps in the research you find. Now you’re ready to write.

When I wrote my last collection of poems, I had many blocks. Some are emotional, such as my partner’s Alzheimer’s that I wrote about in Touch My Head Softly. Or just time barriers, so that when you finally have a chance to write, there’s a lot of pressure to sit down and produce.

But I got through it and published my latest collection earlier this year:

 
 
 

The Writer’s Journey

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 writing group can help with the isolation.  You can also get helpful hints 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.

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I used many of these “journey steps” to complete my collection of poetry that published earlier this year. Check it out:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

I blog on Thursdays and do announcements on Tuesdays. Follow me.

New Year’s Resolutions

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It’s getting to be New Year’s and the custom is to make resolutions. As writers, it’s important that we have goals. It’s also important to look back and acknowledge what we accomplished. Here are some of my goals for the upcoming year:

.to plant bulbs in my garden.

.to see more of my close friends in small combination

.to read more Japanese poetry

.to teach at least one poetry workshop.

.to write a longer narrative poem.

.to downsize and shed some clothing and books.

I may not get to all of these, and that’s ok, but it helps to have goals.

The feeling of having done everything one wanted is elusive. Accepting one’s limitations and shortcomings is part of the process.

I also look back at the year and acknowledge what I’ve done. I published a book this year about my partner’s death from Alzheimer’s Disease. I donated some of the proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Association. I also volunteered and taught a poetry workshop in haiku and tanka. I find a sense of calmness and accomplishment about these things. Check out my 2021 book:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

How to Avoid Distractions While Writing

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It’s really easy to get distracted when writing, especially now that we’re all often working at home. Phone calls, emails and housework all conspire to take away the writing time.

Losing focus while in the middle of writing can seriously damage the quality of your content, The human brain takes around 17 minutes to refocus on a task after a distraction. If you want your writing to be the best quality content possible, you need to get rid of distractions. Billy Collins, the former Poet Laureate of the U.S., suggests sitting with your idea and writing until the complete thought is down,

You can disable notifications on your computer and delay household chores until after writing.If you put your writing first, you get more accomplished and the quality of the content will be better.

During the pandemic I wrote a collection of poetry and had it published.  I did this by focusing.  Take a look at the book:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/