Tag Archives: Writing Exercises

The Poet’s Toolkit: Online Writing Workshop to Begin in October

Accepting registrations now:

The Poet’s Toolkit
Five week self-paced online workshop for writers

While this five-week course will focus on several of the most integral craft elements of poetry writing, it is suitable for writers in any genre. Whether new to creative writing or a long-time practitioner, this online class will help you bring greater focus and new energy to your writing.

Each lesson will center on a particular skill and will include sample readings and discussion of the week’s craft element. A selection of representative poems meant to spark lively discussion will be included as will a number of fun and engaging writing prompts.

Students are invited to write a poem each week in response to any of the readings or prompts. While sharing is always optional, students may do so on a private discussion board. Students are also free to simply follow along with the weekly lessons.

Feedback on poems from me is available on request.

  • Week One: Drawing on vivid details and sensory images for your poems
  • Week Two: Creating surprising similes, metaphors, and other figurative images
  • Week Three: Narrative to imagination (moving from chronology to association)
  • Week Four: Reinvigorating syntax and sentences
  • Week Five: Serious fun with serious revision

Price: $20.00 for ala cart classes or $75.00 for all five weeks. Scholarships are available to students and recent graduates. Contact Lisa at zingarapoet@gmail.com for more information or to register.

 

Write A Modern Ode

Thanks to Erin Adair-Hodges for today’s poetry prompt inspiration:

Today’s prompt is to write an ode. Not a classical or even English ode, which follow particular formats, but rather, just write a poem in praise of something. Except, since we’re post-post-post, not really. Write an ode to something not usually praised or for which you have, at best, mixed feelings. Here is a great example, Kevin Young’s “Ode to the Midwest.”

This exercise is inspired by my trip to the dentist today. There were kitten posters on the ceiling.

Questions Poetry Prompt

Thanks to Rebecca Aronson for today’s awesome prompt:

Today’s prompt: a question poem.

For this poem, write only questions. Let each question lead your mind to the next question–these can be as loosely or closely associative as you feel like. The questions need not be answerable, but they should feel to you like real questions. I suggest at least ten questions on the list.

(once you have a list of at least ten questions, you might find that the list is a kind of poem itself, or you might decide to choose one or more of the questions, or their possible answers to write from.)

Have fun!

From Icebreaker to Poem

This week’s prompt is an adaptation of a great ice-breaker activity in which many of you may have participated at some point in your lives; but  instead of getting to know your peers, you get to write a poem.

Write three statements, two of which are true and one which COULD be true, but is not. Use the premise of these statements as a basis for a poem in which the reader cannot easily discern if the speaker is reliable. This may feel like a perfect prompt for a narrative poem, but experiment and see what develops.

Most of all, have fun!

Merry, Happy, Poetry

November drags major American holidays to the forefront of everyone’s attention. Christmas is close on the heels of Thanksgiving, though more and more, Thanksgiving barely gets its due these days. Less time to be thankful, more time for consumerism.

But these are not the only Holidays that mark the end of the year. Really, year-end consists of at least four months in which several holidays occur. They include Labor Day, Autumnal Equinox, Halloween, All Saints Day, Dias de los Muertos, Veterans Day, Election Day, Winter Solstice, Chaunakkah, Kwanza, and New Year’s Eve. Oh yes, and let’s not forget the biggest of all, Festivus.

For this week’s prompt, write a story, poems or essay about an end-of-year holiday, real or imagined, American or international, uplifting or depressing.

Good luck, and happy writing.

How to Use Automatic Writing

This exercise involves writing “automatically” for five to ten minutes at a time when the mind is in a slightly altered (but unimpaired) state. Ideal times for automatic writing include first thing in the morning, when tired, emotionally charged, cranky, elated, physically drained, late at night or anytime synapses are firing a little randomly. Ever wake up in the middle of the night to see a lunar eclipse or a meteor shower? Engage the same enthusiasm and devotion for your writing by setting your alarm for 3:00 am to write for ten minutes before going back to sleep. You don’t even have to leave your bed.

Focus (or attempt to focus) on concrete images and sensory details. When your five or ten minutes are up, save the document and close it. Do not read what you’ve written.

Try this approach a few times a day and/or for several days in a row. Once you have ten pages of automatic writing (doesn’t matter how many days it takes), read through them for passages containing images or ideas that seem interesting, weird, fresh, irreverent, inventive, astonishing or whatever. Underline or cut and paste them into a new document. Trust your instincts as you choose what seems right for keeping. You may discover that you don’t remember writing most of it.

Finally, select fragments and ideas which seem to belong together or perhaps juxtapose in a particularly significant manner, and use them for the basis of a story, poem or essay.

Good luck, and happy writing.

Write Despite Distraction!

Even writers with a room of their own have to deal with distractions. Family members, loved ones, and friends all quickly figure out how to encroach on whatever protected time or space a writer manages to carve out for herself. Fight fire with fire by desensitizing yourself to distractions. Set an alarm clock or kitchen timer to go off in increments of varying length, ten minutes for the fist session, fifteen or twenty for the second, five for the third, or whatever combination suites your needs. Try this exercise for a period of sixty full minutes if possible. Each time the alarm sounds, take just enough time to reset it, then get right back to writing.

If it is difficult at first to shift your focus from alarm to page, and it probably will, try taking a few deep breaths and center yourself mentally by repeating the following incantation before returning to your writing: inhale and say,  “I am…” exhale and say “writing right now.”

Remember, learning to regain your writing focus after a distraction is the goal of this exercise. It will likely feel uncomfortable and difficult at first, but will become easier with practice.Completing this exercise will give your brain a point of reference – a successful experience of dealing with distractions – that it can recall when more pressing distractions arise. It’s not possible to eliminate all distractions from life, but it is possible to learn to write despite them.

Good luck, and happy writing.