Fill Your Paper

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wordsworth

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photo by photouten

 

This is good advice to someone who has something to say and has a knack for saying it well. I’m not talking about stuff like, “Good morning! Today I am doing to have decaf instead of regular coffee…. blah blah blah”. That’s okay for a morning conversation with your cat, but it’s not the breathings of your heart.

I’m thinking poetry, or personal reflections of a somewhat serious nature. If you are willing to share some of your soul with others, I can guarantee you there is an audience out there longing for your words. No, not everyone will want to read your thoughts, but someone will. Someone may need to hear what you have to say to help them get through a hard time. Your words may be just the right ones at just the right time that could make a difference to someone.

Even if no one does read your words, just the filling of the paper can do wonders for YOU. And, who knows? That practice of getting your words down may be just what you need to encourage yourself. It may lead one day to sharing with the world.

Rebecca Curtis, author of Twenty Grand and Other Tales of Love and Money, says a writer should be “willing to write drivel in a notebook every day, with the idea that not everything you write should be for the purpose of publication.”

Writing in a notebook everyday is good advice. I keep a notebook in my purse and use it for all kinds of writing, from story idea lists to sermon notes in church to what I need to get at the grocery store.

One thing Curtis said that I thought was really good advice is that not everything you write is suitable for publication.  Really, I don’t want to hear about your problems with pooping or how much sugar someone puts in their tea, UNLESS it is woven into a tale worth telling.

Zap, Zooey & ZaniLa

Zap

I am going to ZAP this A-Z thing tht I started back in September. I am going to finish it off NOW! I have tried to write ZESTFULLY, but sometimes I felt like I just need to rest and let a ZEPHYR blow over me.

While thinking of Z, I thought of the time I saw Led ZEPPELIN in Atlanta. It was a fun weekend and great concert, but the circumstances were rather odd. It was one of two dates I had with a boy in college. I met his family that weekend and enjoyed their company, but things just didn’t click with the two of us. He was going to school to be a doctor, but I don’t know whatever happened to him. However, that memory could be the start of a good story.

As a writer, I am learning that there are stories all around me. In my memory, in the grocery store, at the park – wherever there are people, there are stories. So, look around and keep your ears alert. You may just see or hear a ZINGER for YOUR next story!

Words of Wisdom from Zooey

J.D. Salinger wrote a book called Franny and Zooey in 1961. It revolves around the two siblings in the title.

This piece of advice comes from a fictional character, but take it also as coming from Salinger. In a conversation with his sister, Zooey says,

“An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s”.

I think this is excellent advice for writers.

I am always comparing myself as a writer to others, and sometimes it can really drag me down. Instead, I should have some goals for myself, some standards I need to achieve, and to go after these.

Do you have goals for yourself as a writer?

moon

Fruit Cove, FL

 

ZaniLa

My last poetry focus is the ZaniLa Rhyme.

This form was created by Laura Lamarca. The rhyme scheme for each stanza is a. b. (c1. c2.) b. and it has a syllable count of 9. 7. 9. 9. Line 3 is a Repeating Line, which contains an internal rhyme and is repeated in each alternate stanza as in the first stanza.

Here is my first attempt:

Nightime Lullaby

A sunshine smile with eyes meadow green
Happy the day I met you
In daydreams and floating on moonbeams
I’ll not let go, I won’t forget you

I loved to hear your sweet morning song
Buoyant and free your laughter
Floating on moonbeams and in daydreams
Your voice will go on ever after

Your tender spirit, my heart’s delight
Too early to say goodbye
In daydreams and floating on moonbeams
Return in the nighttime lullaby

X for eXtra

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photo-pixabay

I’ve loved ABC books and A-Z lists for quite a while. This post is one in a series on writing and I am almost to the end!

There are a lot of eXtras a writer must make use of in order to be successful. Take eXtra care as you read this and see if there are some eXtras that would be helpful to you.

A writer needs an eXtra measure of creativity. This doesn’t just apply to fiction, but to all genres. A good writer knows how to get her unique ideas on paper, and she can do it in a way that others will want to read. A writer could use eXtra time, but since there are only 24 hours in a day, time must be used wisely. This may mean setting a schedule and sticking to it or eliminating something from your life.

EXtra patience is also important. When people say writing is easy, you need to be eXtra patient.That’s like saying someone is “only” a stay-at-home mom.There is no “easy” or “only” about either of these vocations. An eXtra measure of patience is required of you, yourself, when you get those rejections notices.

An eXtra sharp pair of eyes is essential for proofreading. You might want to borrow someone else’s for this task. EXtra sharp eyes are also needed to keep alert and pay attention to what is going on around you.  Which leads to the next eXtra, an eXtra keen sense of hearing. Listen to what people around you are saying – you may get some great story ideas.

If you have any eXtra tips, please leave a comment below!

W is for Writing after Writer’s Block

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photo by phanlop88.

 

When asked what they do when they get “writer’s block”, I found it interesting that these two had the same idea:

“I play solitaire…I deal out the cards whenever I feel the need for a break in concentration, and play three games or until I win, whichever comes first.” – Lawrence Block, novelist

“I play computer solitaire. If three games don’t do it, I play three more.” – Nancy Kress, novelist

I haven’t thought of that, but I think I’m going to try it. Or online Mahjong. One reason I believe it’s a good idea is because it has NOTHING to do with words or writing and it does not take a lot of strategy or any deep thinking. But, it does give the mind a break and I can see how it might be a good refresher.
What are some things YOU do when you are stuck for an idea?

Once you are unstuck, then you can work on the  The 5 Ws

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art by artur84.

Here is a look  at the 5 Ws as applied to a fictional story.

Who? Your main characters need to be memorable. It could be in their dialect, the way they dress, or in a quirky habit they have. Your readers also need a physical description. This doesn’t have to be given all at once, but it should be revealed early on. Don’t overload your story with too many characters, otherwise your readers may get them confused.

What? The plot of the story is important. In fact, with no plot, there is no story. There may be several subplots, but they all need to work together to bring your story to a firm conclusion.

When? When your story takes place is often set by the plot, especially if it’s historical fiction. Be sure all your other elements line up with your time period. The fashions, cars, technology, and other details must be accurate.

Where? If you have never been to the place where you set your story, you either need to plan a trip there or do some research. If it’s an imaginary place, you get to create it all, so be sure to give plenty of details.

Why? What motivates your character? Why does your character pick on little kids? Why is it important for your character to join the army? What makes your character a workaholic?

Answer these “W” questions before you start writing, then look at them a few times along the way. Have you answered them sufficiently? In that case, you are well on your way to great story!

Two for T

I’ve loved ABC books and A-Z lists for quite a while. This post is one in a series on writing.

T is for Thesaurus

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art by Stuart Miles

I must admit, I use a thesaurus. A lot. Some writers may think it’s a cop-out, or that it shows you don’t really know your stuff. I don’t look at it that way. It helps me when I’m proofreading and I’ve already used a word because it keeps me from using the same word over and over. In this way I also learn new words, which is a good thing.

I use a thesaurus often when I am editing my poetry. I think poetry is all about “using the best words in the best order.” Why use green when emerald or olive is better? Why say fast when hasty gives even more meaning?

Take Time

“So much of writing is mere contemplation, and it took me a few years to find validity in this idea. One day I’d write 12 pages and the next I’d sit around and think and eke out one paragraph, and it took me a while to realize that was a legitimate use of time.” – Daniel Handler AKA Lemony Snicket, author of the A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS books.

This is advice I need to take to heart. I’m always putting deadlines on myself, and I’m missing out on the contemplation part, which could make my writing better. I’m also missing out on reading, which is also what makes for a better writer.

So today, have fun (a pleasurable time) with your words (terminology). Make good (superior) choices (selections). Enjoy (take pleasure in) writing (scripting) and others will enjoy (benefit from) reading your work (composition).

Three Rs

I’ve loved ABC books and A-Z lists for quite a while. This post is one in a series on writing, with the subtopic of poetry.

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photo by MRWILDLIFE

Rhino Skin

“The failures you face as a writer are more important, because they’re what make you work harder, do better and build up the rhinoceros-hide-thick skin you need to survive in the publishing world.” – Jodi Picoult, author of 23 novels

We’ve all heard about learning from our mistakes. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s a very real concept. If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we will suffer from them. But, if we use them to learn to do something better, they became another gift.

Recipe
A story needs three main ingredients: setting, plot, and characters. The type of these will depend on who you are serving. Historical fiction? Then the setting might be a civil war battlefield. Mystery? Then your plot may include a murder. Science fiction? Some of your characters may be aliens.

After you have sifted your main ingredients together, mix in some metaphors. Stir in a few similes. Use a pinch of personification. Add adjectives to taste.

Bake as long as needed in the past, present, or future. Prick with proofreading to see if your story is done. May be served in hardback or soft cover.

Rictameter
The poetry focus is a Rictameter, which is like a Cinquain. Starting your first line with a two syllable word, you then consecutively increase the number of syllables per line by two. i.e. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10; then down again, 8, 6, 4, 2, making the final line the same two syllable word you began with. I had fun crafting this one!

Summer
Wine on the porch
Scrabble after supper
The train echoes long in the dusk
Lightning bugs flicker as the dark settles
A small breeze finally kicks up
Crickets start their chorus
The frogs join in
Summer

Quilting and Quinzaines

I’ve loved ABC books and A-Z lists for quite a while. This post is one in a series on writing, with the subtopic of poetry.

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circa 1983

Writing is a lot like quilting. A writer looks for just the right pieces to put in her story. She takes scraps of memories and uses them to form characters. Her grandma may show up as a neighbor, her favorite teacher will appear as – what else? A favorite teacher.

Her foundation is the backing and batting; her plot is her pattern. She then layers on prints, solids, and textures that make her story rich – a love interest here, a mystery there. The whole work is then stitched together with care, proofread and ironed out. Like a good quilt, a good book will last for generations.

The poetry focus is a quinzaine. A quinzaine is an unrhymed verse of fifteen syllables.

These syllables are distributed among three lines so that there are seven syllables in the first line, five in the second line and three in the third line (7/5/3). The first line makes a statement. The next two lines ask a question relating to that statement.

Example:

I’m a very strong woman
Are you a woman?
Are you strong?

By Katie Schmidt

I tried my hand at a few – here they are:

Daybreak
She’s up at the break of day
Is she still weary?
Was there rest?

Noonday
The sun is high overhead
Who’s counting hours?
How many?