Posts Tagged ‘advice for writers’

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’ve somewhat abandoned the idea of playing with poetry.  I’ve had my internal excuses, but in reality, I just don’t do well with a prescribed plan.  To me, it doesn’t make me more creative; it gets in the way.  I am still writing at least one poem a day. I’m just not using the tools in the playful kits.

Yesterday, I was reading Poets and Writers The Time is Now and became inspired by a feature called Writers Recommend.  Molly Dektar’s advice this week was unique. This got me thinking about how every expert writer has his or her own advice to writers.  I read writerly advice nearly every day.  And feeling like I was abandoning my own project of “Playing with Poetry,” I wrote this poem.

One writer recommends
a thousand words a day,
another says to sit in words
for 2 hours at dawn.

Try writing while you’re falling asleep.
Let the pen run over the paper
making foreign marks
you will interpret later.

Maybe you should drink
two glasses of wine before writing.
Slur words together in a string
and drink them with a straw.

Molly likes to go to Sephora
and spray on all the different perfumes.
She writes with a tiny perfume bottle
while all her senses are aroused.

It really doesn’t matter.

Words will come.
Words will go.
Writers know this.
Writers count on it.


—Margaret Simon, 2019

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

My husband and I are very different readers. He stays up late and reads mystery novels. I, on the other hand, go to bed early with middle grade realistic fiction. He reads news on his tablet while I read blogs.  He reads The New Yorker, and I read Oprah magazine.

But yesterday, he handed me The American Scholar. (He’s the Phi Beta Kappa.) The Editor’s Note was about the writings of Brian Doyle. One essay mentioned was “Joyas Voladoras.” I was able to say, “I’ve read that!” It’s the first essay that Katherine Bomer analyzes in her book, “The Journey is Everything.”

Then Jeff said, “Have your read ‘Leap’? You have to read it.” He handed me his tablet. I finished with tears in my eyes.

Then I read “How Did You Become a Writer.”  This is just what I needed to read. For all of you in this Slice of Life Challenge, we are on day 20. The writing is getting harder. We are feeling like everything we put on the page is garbage. So this is for you and for me, Top Ten Things a Writer Must Do as taken from Brian Doyle’s essay.

  1. Be honest with yourself.
  2. Expect no money for your writing.
  3. Listen.
  4. Energize your verb choice.
  5. When in doubt, cut it out.
  6. Make writing a regular part of your day.
  7. Delete mere catharsis.
  8. Find the right title.
  9. Be a witness to the world.
  10. Submit.


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