As I first entered this class, I didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous of course, and I knew it was going to consist of workshop, but I have never partook in a workshop this intense before. It was for sure stressful and nerve racking at first, but as the semester is coming to a close, workshop has become something I really enjoy.
Critiquing other peoples work has really enhanced my writing skill. It helps me realize and understand the type of work I want to produce. Work shopping my peers work gives me ideas of what to possibly write about while helping me avoid techniques and or vices that I do not wish to write about.
Sometimes I find myself unsure of what to comment on my peers work. No piece of writing is truly perfect but it may be hard to find the right thing to comment. I always try to give my peers comments to the best of my ability. It is always disheartening when you receive your poem back and there are little to no comments on it, does it mean I am doing something right or does my reader not care? Showing some effort truly goes a long way.
The one thing I hate most about writing is revision. In general it takes a lot out of a person to be like yeah, I was wrong let me fix that. Let alone going back to their OWN writing and changing it.
We get so attached to our writing that we forget that these workshop comments are constructive criticism. They are meant to help not hurt us. I personally write poems, or even short stories, and find it so hard to go back and revise. Sometimes I wanna scrap the whole thing in general and start over. But then a voice in the back of my head stops me and tells me its not the end of the world, this revision is gonna make your piece stronger. That voice is right. If I stop being so stubborn, I can have the potential to really enhance my work by tweaking a few/or a lot of things.
Revision sucks in my eyes but at the end of the day I know that it can truly help me become a greater writer.
I recently made a blog post talking about Lack of Confidence and how I put myself in a position to feel vulnerable by submitting some of my pieces into Gandy Dancer. I was extremely nervous to do something like this because I have never submitted my work anywhere besides for a workshop with my peers.
Unfortunately, the pieces I submitted were not accepted into Gandy Dancer because it was not what they were looking for at the time. After I read the email, I grew self conscious. I set myself up to be in a position to fail. But then I thought to myself, if I don’t push myself out of my comfort zone, how am I supposed to improve? If everything works out in my favor then what am I working for? What do I have to change or improve in my work to make me a better writer?
Although I am disappointed by this, I know its part of my journey as a writer and I will continue to push myself, as should everyone who is reading this.
According to The Poetry Archive, “Form, in poetry, can be understood as the physical structure of the poem: the length of the lines, their rhythms, their system of rhymes and repetition. In this sense, it is normally reserved for the type of poem where these features have been shaped into a pattern, especially a familiar pattern.”
I believe at this point in our writing careers, it is safe to assume that we all know what “Form” is. We often subconsciously write in specific forms and sometimes we consciously write in specific forms. I often find myself writing in very similar forms, usually poems with short line stanzas consisting no more of 4 or 5 lines.
In the book, Gephyromania by TC. Tolbert, it contains various poems that play with form. He often plays with blank space as well as repetition. One poem that stood out to me was the piece on page 10. In this piece there is an excessive amount of blank space. In the middle of the page you see a giant “NO” bold and in caps surrounded by the words “e” and “ugh” essentially spelling the word “enough”. The “no” has a powerful impact in this piece because it distracts the reader from noticing any other word on the page. There are also words on the page that fall vertically also adding another factor to its form. Not only is this piece a reflection on the abundant white space and challenging form, the entire book demonstrates the skill TC. Tolbert contains as a writer.
This week in class, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and shared a piece that I have been debating on submitting for workshop for a while. This piece contained content that is not often shared with classmates nor discussed comfortably out loud.
I noticed that when my piece was being work-shopped, there was a bit of awkwardness between the conversation. I understand that the topic of the piece may have made people uncomfortable, because if I am being honest, it made me uncomfortable as well.
I believe as writers it is critical that we continue pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. We may not enjoy it, and its definitely something that may leave both the writer and the reader unsettled, but it helps us to improve our creative writing skills.
If we constantly wrote about the same topics and things that made us ~comfortable~ there would be a huge lack of diversity and creativity in our work. Although certain topics may make us nervous to write or read about, I believe as writers we should strive to be bold and daring.
The other day my friend approached me as I as doing some work and she asked what I was working on. I told her it was for one of my English classes and she said, “I always forget you’re the odd one out.” (meaning if not all but most of my friends are either science, business, communications, or education majors. Not a single one is English.) And then she proceeded to ask if I was a poet, and this is what got me wondering.
Am I poet? I guess I could say yes. I’m more of a poet than any of my other friends, and I do write poems quite frequently. So yes I am a poet. But then there’s the other half of me that says, no you’re not a poet, you wont even show your work to your friends and you’ve never even been published. I am constantly torn between being a poet and not. I believe that part of this struggle comes from a lack of confidence. I won’t get into that because I talk about confidence in a previous blog post. But, when I search in google “What is a poet” the answer is simple, a poet is someone who writes poems. So, by definition, I am a poet.
That first bite of a apple. Its crisp, juicy, and crunchy. You cringe a little if you’re eating it in a silent room because you know people can hear you, and face it they’re probably annoyed by the sound too. That crunch, that crack…how can we portray those distinct sounds in our writing? Anyone can blatantly write something like, “She took a bite out of her red delicious apple.” But as a reader, what does that sound like? The readers aren’t there to experience that sound of the bite, as a writer, our jobs are to take them through the experience, treat the reader as if they were there in that moment, stimulate their senses.
This brings me to my point of word choice. Whether your poem is long, short, or in between, every word has a purpose. Each word in poetry takes its reader through the meaning of the piece. Word choice may also be important to help create rhythm or set the tone of the piece. Poetry possesses such compact form, and with that being said, word choice affects that form. Going back to the image of the first bite of an apple, there is a difference when one may write, “She bit the apple and it made a noise and the apples juice dripped down her chin.” Compared to, “The loud crack of the apples skin hitting her teeth caused the room to fall into a hush as the juice dribbled down her chin.” The word choice in the first sentence does not evoke much sensory stimulation compared to the second sentence, it tells a mini story, almost as if the reader was there as it happened.
I know as a writer I personally struggle with word choice. But one technique I found to be helpful was just writing down whatever I wanted to say, no matter if it made sense or not, and then rereading it and editing it as much as possible to cut down or add necessary words. Word choice is tricky, but as long as you strive to take your reader on a journey, you have succeeded.
For the first time ever I submitted some of my poetry to (hopefully) be published online for the ~world~ to see. I submitted my work to Gandy Dancer. By now I would believe that everyone in the SUNY English world is familiar with Gandy Dancer but if you’re not, here’s how they explain themselves, “We are a literary magazine, available online and in print, that publishes fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and visual art. We invite student writers and artists from all SUNY campuses to submit. Edited by a rotating staff of students at SUNY Geneseo, Gandy Dancer is published twice yearly.”
Now this is something I have never done before, I rarely let my close friends and family read my work let alone a bunch of strangers. But, I made a promise to myself the beginning of this semester that I would push myself, specifically in my writing career, out of my comfort zone. In order to achieve this, I figured I would attempt to make my work public. There’s no promise that my work would be published but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
If you are also feeling insecure about your work, don’t! I know that it’s easier said than done but start by feeling more confident by submitting your work somewhere, or even letting someone read it who you’d normally not want to read it. These little steps can help you in becoming a more confident and successful writer.
What is writers block? How can I avoid writers block? Does everyone get writers block?
The way I describe writers block is when you (the writer) are at a complete dead stop and can no longer think of anything to write, and I mean anything. It literally feels like someone wiped your brain of all potential thoughts, and or ideas. Imagine you’re driving a car on the highway and you have to take a detour, but when you exit the highway, there are no signs telling you which way to take the detour so you just start driving around aimlessly for hours until you finally give up. That’s what writers block feels like.
I don’t think there’s any true way to avoid writers block, just ways to help prevent it. When you find yourself writing and start to lose momentum and it feels like you’re pulling teeth trying to make sense on the page, walk away. Just walk away. If you try to sit there making sense of the random words you’re spewing out. It just wont work. So, step away, drop the pencil, close the laptop, and walk away. Watch a movie, or take a nap, do something to distract your mind from what you were trying to write. When the time feels write, come back to your piece and crank out some more work. It’s like what they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. And it’s true. Your work is not completed in one day, it takes time to craft what you’re thinking. So don’t stress about writers block, it’s a natural state of creative writing and everyone goes through it.
I myself am guilty for not following the advice I just gave above. I always feel like there is this insane amount of pressure to get everything out and in the open, as if I only have one shot to write what I wanna write. But that is so false. The good thing about creative writing is that you can go back any time and change and/or add whatever you want. I’m guilty of trying to act like I always know what I want to write, but I often find myself at a loss as soon as I grab a pen or open my laptop.
Writers block is never fun but with patience and acceptance that no one/nothing is perfect, we can over come this deadly mental block and create some of our best work.
As I sat in class for the first time this week, I couldn’t contain my excitement over the fact that I get to share not only my work but read and engage in my peers work. Surrounding myself with such powerful and intelligent people pushes me to work harder and inspires me in so many ways.
I know for me personally, being at such a young age, creates a sort of writers block compared to writers who practically lived more than half their life. Being so young means not nearly as much life experience to incorporate into my work. I often am faced with a struggle of what to write about when wanting to make my writing personal. I often find myself taking a cliche route and writing about “love” and “heartbreak”. After reading my peers work, I have been inspired by so many interesting thoughts, ideas, and techniques.
One technique I wish to try, is spreading my words and or sentences throughout the page, and not keeping them in a basic couplet or stanza. This will be challenging for me but I believe in order to become a stronger writer it is important to challenge oneself.