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.
As a writer, sound plays an important role. Sound varies from on paper to off. Anyone can write something like, “the clock made a ticking noise”. But what did the ticking noise actually sound like? Was it loud? Annoying? Calming? That is when it becomes the responsibility of the writer to dig further on what is just on the paper and to add meaning to the words.
As a writer it is difficult to incorporate sound in a piece. I believe in incorporating the five senses in a piece because it stimulates an image and causes the readers mind to think past the words and apply them to an actual meaning. Think about a song. If a song only had one instrument throughout the entirety of the song, the song would be really boring and no one would want to listen to it. So in writing, if we only wrote about things that stimulated, for example, smell, the piece would lack in both creativity and imagination.
Sound to me plays an important role to not only my actual life but writing as well. Each sound is unique. Some are calming like waves hitting a beach, and some are aggravating, like nails on a chalkboard. When I write I want my audience to feel what I am feeling. If I am writing a piece and want them to feel my anger or sadness I will use words to describe the sound for that emotion. Sound is often kept on a low radar but it is more relevant than we think.
Yesterday I attended a poetry reading by Christopher Soto. Soto is a poet based in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of Sad Girl Poems (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016) and the editor of Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color (Nightboat Books, 2018). Soto read a few original poems and other poems produced by other poets as well. Throughout this experience, all of the poems shared a common theme. There was a shared theme of inclusivity within the poems. Each poem covered serious issues, such as mass imprisonment, sex slavery, and racism. One writing technique I gained from attending this poetry reading is call and response. Soto read a poem aloud and when he raised his hand, the audience replied with the same response. I found this to be effective in accomplishing the message of the poem. The poem was in regards to mass imprisonment. The poem also contained the technique of repetition. Repetition stands out to the reader in that it makes the piece memorable and quotable. Christopher Soto is an incredibly talented writer that touches upon economic, racial, and social issues throughout society.