Shelley Widhalm

Getting Lucky: Top 7 Poetry Tips for 2022

In Poem-A-Day Challenge, Poetry, Poetry Advice, Poetry Tips, Writing, Writing Advice, Writing Poetry, Writing Tips on January 23, 2022 at 11:00 am

Shelley Widhalm of Shell’s Ink Services poses by one of her poems that was selected in fall 2021 for the Forces of Nature exhibit at the Windsor Art & Heritage Center. The exhibit will continue through January 2022.

I write a poem a day every day—some days I work ahead. Sometimes I get behind. But I keep writing.

Poetry can be practice for flash fiction, description and longer works. It also can be a final product that is both an art and a discipline employing specifics of form and use of language.

Poetic Forms

A poem’s form ranges from free verse open in structure to a fixed form with specific rules. Free verse doesn’t have a meter or syllable count or rhyme scheme unlike the fixed forms of sonnets, sestinas, villanelles and haikus. Semi-fixed forms like prose poems combine poetry and prose in a block of text written in poetic language.

No matter the form, poetry uses poetic devices to add musicality to words. The devices include alliteration, the repetition of initial consonant sounds; consonance, the repetition of internal consonant sounds; and assonance, the repetition of vowel sounds. Onomatopoeia occurs when words imitate the sounds they stand for, such as hiss, buzz or squawk, and slant rhyme when nearly identical words have similar sounds, like “feel” and “real.”

Poems also can take a lyrical or narrative approach. A lyrical poem is about a single image, thought or emotion expressed as a snapshot or fixed moment of time. A narrative poem tells a story and has a plot with beginning, middle and end.

No matter the form and approach, poems are about feeling, emotion, stories and moments or they capture an experience, thought, idea or observation.

To Write a Poem

  • Think of the intent of the poem and what should be expressed.
  • Use the senses—seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting—to describe thoughts and observations.
  • Play around with words and descriptions, putting random words on the page and rearranging them.
  • Avoid using clichés, trite words, generalities and vague concepts, opting for comparisons and concrete language instead.
  • Cut words like “and,” “that” and “the” and other unnecessary words.
  • Give specific details instead of generalizations or vague descriptions.
  • Explore what the poem is really saying and look for ideas that can be further explored.

One Final Thought  

Poetry, no matter its form, shape or the devices it uses, becomes art as it uses language to create something of beauty, and its craft through the employment of those devices to make that beauty.

Getting Lucky: Top 7 Writing Tips for 2022

In Writing Advice, Writing Discipline, Writing Goals, Writing Inspiration, Writing Motivation, Writing Tips on January 9, 2022 at 11:00 am

The 3-inch snowman sits outside the Sheraton West Denver hotel following the Dec. 31, 2021, snowstorm that broke records falling so late in the winter season. The snowman can serve as inspiration for lucky writing.

By SHELLEY WIDHALM

In 2021, I pumped out a poetry collection in one month, writing all the poems afresh.

But then I got stuck. I kept writing poetry for my daily poem challenge, but I didn’t do any other type of writing.

Whether writer’s block is real is debatable. But motivation is as is doing something about it. That’s why I’m picking up Lisa Cron’s Story Genius and working through the plotting workbook for my next novel. Maybe I’ll figure out why I’m not writing anything longer than a few hundred words.

Part of it might be the “rejection effect“—I’ve submitted my novels to agents but have gotten the “not yet” or “not for me” responses. I moved past calling the responses hard and fast “no’s,” since getting traditionally published is a subjective, uphill trial requiring toughness and persistence.

With all of this “negativity,” I figured I need to get lucky. Here’s how:

Top 7 Writing Tips

  • Create inspiration by doing the writing. Don’t wait for the feeling you want to write. Just start.
  • Identify a place to write to establish comfort and routine. Then write in odd places to add variety.
  • Make writing a plan with daily, weekly or monthly goals. Write for a set amount of time, such as one hour, or until a certain word count, starting with 500 or 1,000 words.
  • Give up some of the control. Trust your subconscious to make connections your conscious mind isn’t ready to or won’t necessarily be able to make.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist. Rough or first drafts are called that for a reason—the story or message unfolds and isn’t readily formed until it’s written.
  • Accept that writing is supposed to be hard. Focus on the process instead of the results to make it more fun and enjoyable.
  • Read and to analyze what you read. Identify what works and what doesn’t work and why. Apply what you learn to your own writing.

Get Lucky with Words                                                                                           

Once writing becomes a regular part of your schedule, it can feel like luck. You write. You produce. You have finished work as a result.

That’s my plan for 2022. To write another book and get unstuck.

Want Fun New Year’s Eve Plans? (Mine are about the 1920s)

In 1920s, Editing, Flappers, New Year's Eve on December 29, 2021 at 11:00 am

Paul, my NYE date, and I are goofing off trying on funny hats. We don’t have our 1920s outfits yet!

By SHELLEY WIDHALM

I love New Year’s Eve for the ultimate fun factor—and the flashback to 1920s wild parties.

The night is all about frivolity, but then the next day, three months of the big holiday pileup is essentially over until Valentine’s Day. In the meantime, January can be a bit depressing with cold, snowy, short days that have to be slogged through to get to spring and baby animals.

Luckily, January is introduced with a big party night. I’m showing up as a flapper in a feather headpiece, elbow gloves and … yes, sparkly jewelry.

Oh-h, a Gala!

My date and I are going to the 19th White Rose Gala, a Roaring 20s Great Gatsby NYE Party, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver. I haven’t gone to a fancy, expensive party, ever, so I’m super stoked to stay up past my usual 10 p.m. bedtime curfew.

For this curfew-bending outing, my date rented a 1920s tux, and I’m wearing a little black ruffle dress, pearls I already had and sparkly dangling earrings, all that match photos I found online of Great Gatsby accessories.

I “edited” my outfit to fit the decade, sans cigarette holder, since I hate cigarettes (the smoke interferes with breathing and crap) and holding things, especially for hours on end, unless it’s some cute guy’s hand or a drink, preferably rum and Coke.

Here’s a Bit of History

The 20s were known for Prohibition, riotous spending, flourishing arts, jazz music, speakeasies and nightclubs, along with a sudden change in clothing. Women went from tight corsets and floor-length hemlines to the loose glam of the flapper dress. Shorter hems allowed for easier movement, and accents like strings of pearls and tassels showed off dance moves. Men, too, opted for stripes, bold colors, suspenders, vests and less formalwear when they hit the town.

Hemlines rose from the ground to the knees (scandalous! Plus, miniskirts won’t even appear until the 1960s!). Hair went short—women showed off their bobs with rounded felt hats and headbands embellished with feathers, sequins and jewels. And makeup became smoky, dark and daring.

Here’s Something Personal

Flappers dressed for wild nights out. I, too, love partying, though I’m buttoned-up and disciplined about writing, editing and work. I used to be a party girl during college and after until I went to grad school, when I had so much homework to do, I had to focus on that or not get my perfectionist-chasing straight As.

I partied some while building my career, but to a lesser extent. With all the worry about success, I never let loose like the convention-defying flappers, instead doing what I was supposed to. I think that’s why NYE is so riotous—you can escape the boundaries of responsibility to ascertain your real energy. Mine’s a bit wild. Though if you met me, you’d probably think I was nice, a nerd and quiet.

Not really.