Poetry writing

About that writing you were going to do…

If you’re like me, you come up with some good lines, starters for pieces you’ve imagined. But, it’s early morning, and you’re not willing to get up, to rise and shine a light onto a notebook page or a scrap of paper so you can get those lines down before they vanish. A fleeting thought later may bring a portion of the lines, but nothing as grand as your first ideas.

You attend virtual writing workshops, meet-ups, and come away with prompts, starter poems, lines other writers have shared in the chat box. National Poetry Month prompts appear in your inbox each day. You are building a great idea collection, but it’s stalled or going nowhere.

You promise yourself you will set aside time to write. But, then…

  1. You get stuck in email-land,
  2. which sends you to links of really important and interesting articles
  3. You drop in at Facebook—just to check on how your buddies are doing
  4. Real life happens, and you are called upon to do real stuff

Any number of things can and do throw up roadblocks to your writing. Heck, I thought about this post a week ago and am just now getting to it! Since that initial idea, I’ve taken a class, shopped for Adoption Day presents for our dear friends’ new infant (We ARE the honorary grandmas), attended two writing workshops, participated in several Zoom meetings, and watched umpteen Women’s NCAA basketball tournament games. At least we’ve now dismantled the jigsaw puzzle table!

The saving grace for me, even with life’s interruptions, is scheduling and blocking the time for writing. One method I use is allotting time in my planner, I set tasks for the day into the time slots the night before, so I wake up thinking about the jobs and can get started right away. Sometimes that time frame is loosened.

My most effective method of insuring my writing time is with an online mindful writing community called A Very Important Meeting. I schedule that on my calendar – because I may be loose with “write blog” or “newsletter,” but I will NOT miss or be late for “A Very Important Meeting.” And, it’s there that I’ve actually written a blog or a poem or a newsletter article. Sometimes, I journal or free write on a topic of interest. But the main thing is I am writing the whole time.

I’ve committed to attending AVIM twice a week. We join and chat with the group for five minutes, the leader takes us through a 10-minute meditation, we write on our own for 45 minutes, and have a check in for the last 15 minutes and discuss how our writing went and other writing/reading concerns and ideas.

We’ve developed a community of writers, the folks who regularly attend at the same time. And, that’s what I find drives me. To ensure my writing, I need time with people and our collective energy in addition to the time commitment.

What about that writing you were going to do? What is it that helps you focus and keep your word with yourself about writing?


Your Authentic Voice

An authentic voice is what makes a personal connection between an author and her readers.  It lets her personality shine through. It signals that writer’s work even when unsigned.

We recognize the sound of a letter or other written piece as our mother’s or that of a good friend. We know the style and language of a favorite author whom we’ve read extensively.

In Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools he quotes his colleague Don Fry’s definition of voice: “Voice is the sum of all the strategies used by the author to create the illusion that the writer is speaking directly to the reader from the page.”

Clark cites some of the indicators of a writer’s voice as level of language, whether the writer normally writes in first or third person, use of metaphors and other figures of speech, and typical sentence length and structure.

A great test for one’s writing voice is oral reading. I recently wrote a sonnet based on a model I’d received in my inbox via a prompt subscription. My poem fulfilled all the requirements of a sonnet, and I was quite pleased. But when I read it aloud to my writer friends, they said, “That just doesn’t sound like you.”

And it didn’t feel like me. So I rewrote the poem in free verse, my usual form. It felt like home–much more satisfying to my readers and me!

A writer’s voice is like her signature, or a stamp on her work.

~ xoA ~



It’s a Perfect Time to Journal

If you haven’t been journaling because you just don’t have the time, well, maybe NOW you do. As we are all hunkered down in our homes practicing social/physical distancing, we can only watch so much TV, be on the Internet only so long, clean out only so many boxes, drawers, and closets. (Okay, I’ve barely straightened my pantry.)

Why not drag out those journals and notebooks you’ve picked up on sale? Maybe in your clearing out process you’ve discovered journals folks have given you as gifts over the years. No  bona fide journals in your collection? Any notebook will do. You could even staple some loose pages together in a file folder to make a journal.


  • To choose any type of book
  • To include any topic, any memories or experiences or ideas or pictures or collages — anything
  • Not to worry about spelling, grammar, or punctuation
  • Not to be concerned about length (words, pages or how many times you write on the same topic)
  • To write wherever you want or whenever you want

Journaling  Recommendations

  • Write regularly (daily, 3x a week, whatever works for you).
  • Use lots of detail (tap into the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, actions, and feelings).
  • Push yourself to keep writing, even if you feel like there’s nothing more to say.
  • Ask yourself questions and answer them.
  • Reflect on what you’ve learned, how events changed you, or how you feel about things.
  • Keep your journal  nearby so you can write whenever an opportune moment or an idea hits you.

Why Journaling Now?

This is an unprecedented time in our lifetime. Your journal in these times will provide personal context to a life-changing historical event. (Think of how your kids and grandkids will be rock stars in their future history classes.)

Journaling now will provide you with an outlet for your feelings and thoughts whether around COVID-19 or any other circumstances, frustrations, joys, and realizations that you may experience. It’s a record of you.

Don’t want to share it? You don’t have to. Ever.

“My journal is the way I keep connected with my particular experience of the world.”  ~Barbara Bash, author