Shelley Widhalm

Archive for 2022|Yearly archive page

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.