6 Tips to Achieve Literary Success

6 Tips to Achieve Literary Success

1. Write often
Above everything else, the most important tip is to write about what you are passion about. Writing about what moves, inspires and motivates you in either your personal or professional life clearly shows in your work.

2. First impressions
One key writing technique to remember is to start off the story with an intriguing, interesting opening to grab the reader’s attention. This tip is applicable to short stories, novels and even poetry.

3. Don’t over describe
Use descriptive tools and adjectives with caution. While you do want to create a unique, interesting picture for your reader/audience base, you still need to allow a certain level of imagination creation on their end. A good novel or poem creates a relationship where a few descriptive details catalyst a moving picture in the reader’s mind.

4. Use dialogue sparingly
Depending on personal taste, dialogue should be moderately used in the body of work you have been working on. Even though dialogue is strongly encouraged by a plethora of writers, keep in mind that a balance between dialogue and prose is a matter of personal style.

The key to effectively using dialogue is to keep the conversation crisp, engaging, and most of all meaningful to the chapter, scene or overall plot line.

5. Listening to your subconscious

Even if you happen to be writing well for days, there is still a very strong chance that writer’s block will indeed occur a week or a month down the line. Listening to your subconscious is also a great way to filter through any lingering thoughts you have in the back of your mind. Take a few minutes to speak with a fellow friend or even a friend to help you bounce some ideas or potential character developments off of during this process.

6. Character development
To make characters convincing, you have to get right inside their heads and experience the world as they do. Arguably one of the more difficult tasks when writing, pushing yourself to your limits and becoming the character on paper is by far quite time-consuming. Knowing your character in order to better understand how he/she would act in the most extreme or mundane situations is essential as the plot in your novel thickens.

Utilizing the above tips will create a multi-faceted skill set which can help you create the body of work that you have been aspiring to achieve for years. Believing in your capabilities, along with constantly learning to improve your skill set is vital.

The Significance of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival

While it is common for poetry festivals and events across the country to focus on the artistic or melodic aspect of this written form, it is also important to take the time to not only understand, but to appreciate its power to change. Change someone’s perspective on an issue he/she had not thought about too much previously, or perhaps shedding light on a feeling that many people fail to experience in the routine of their day to day lives.

One festival in particular has shaped a new way people gather and come together to experience of the striking insight of poetry. In late April, the Massachusetts Poetry Festival showcased poets and different works of art which emphasized world issues and problems that have gone widely unheard of.

This festival, which lasted for two days in Salem, was a plethora of poetic communications, learning, and most of all social engagement. Specifically, on Friday educators had the option to participate in a workshop focused on teaching poetry, its history, and various writing forms in high school classrooms.

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, moderator and poet Danielle Jones-Pruett says that the entire festival — in fact, all poetry — is a form of activism.

maya angelou

Maya Angelou 

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

– “Still I Rise”, Maya Angelou

Festival Executive Director January Gill O’Neil, is a firm believer that poetry readings are an opportunity for listeners to not only realize they’re not alone, but also relate to others to better understand how feelings can be both shared experiences and personal simultaneously.

As the festival is the catalyst for this shared, personal experience, O’Neill hopes that participants, readers, and poets can benefit and engage in a similar interaction in another sphere of their lives. In other words, this moving experience can transcend the festival setting. “Revolutions start small,” she says.

Unlike other festivals, many attendants believe that this event was special due to its robust, healthy intellectual atmosphere. Thus, Jones-Pruett emphasizes that diversity propels change both within and outside the poetry community. “Rather than nodding our heads we have our ideas challenged,” she says.

Tobi Dress-Germain, one of the festival moderators, delves deeper into the notion that the process of creative writing is still unrestricted. In this sense, this liberating mentality allows for a free flow of ideas across a spectrum of minds. She feels that “writing is one of the few times when we, as human beings, are truly free.”

According to Gill O’Neil, when you’re writing poetry, your objective is not necessarily to change the world immediately or at all. For many, as society becomes more open and accepting, so does poetry as an introspective art form. This is the best time to go see poetry,” she says. “It’s edgy, it’s raw, it goes there.”

Ways to Improve Poetry Writing

1. Read lots of poetry on a day to day basis. More importantly, reading a wide array of sources from scholarly articles to travel blog posts will improve the overall quality of your writing.

2. Designate a special notebook (or space in your notebook) for poetry writing.

3. Try writing in form (sonnets or haiku) to guide you to craft poems as you move forward.

4. Utilize metaphors, but stay away from clichés that could make your work seem a little too unoriginal.

5. Sign up for a poetry writing workshop. This will expose you to other best practices to get those creative juices flowing along with learning how to write in different poetic forms across the board. Join a poetry forum or poetry writing group online.

6. Read poems over and aloud to better absorb aspects such as writing style, sound and how the poet is able to craft verses in an interesting, engaging manner. Analyzing poems in their verbal form is also a great way to help with the overall writing process.

7. Study biographies of famous (or not-so-famous) poets to gain a better understanding of not only their work, but an overall evolution of their career in the field.

8. Find unusual subject matter to spark different levels of creativity when going about the writing process.

9. Use language that people can comprehend and relate to in some shape or form. Generating poems that tend to be verbose or lack simple coherence has the potential of limiting the audience you’d like to reach.

10. Meditate, listen to inspirational music before or while you write poetry to clear your mind. Although each person has a different way to spark the creative writing process, experimenting with various ways is never bad or unproductive.

11. When you submit work, expect rejection. As this is one of the most difficult skills to acquire, it is without a doubt a quality that takes countless times to adjust to.

12. Get a website or blog and publish your own poetry to gain exposure in the digital space. Joining poetry communities on social media platforms or reaching out to other poets is also a great way to interact, brainstorm and develop your ideas during the writing process.

13. Attend a poetry reading or slam poetry event.

14. Writing with honesty is a great source to express bundled up feelings, thoughts or built emotions that you have been hiding for awhile.

15. Don’t be afraid to experiment with music, art and other more complex vocabulary words to help in this process. Perform it and publish it.

16. After writing, be sure to go back and edit your work until you are completely content with the piece. Editing is just as difficult as conjuring up material, so be sure to make a habit of growing accustomed to improving efficiency in this project as best you can.

17. Read or write a poem every day. This will allow you to keep those creative juices flowing on a regular basis.

 

Exploring Soulful Poetry with Major Jackson

Born and raised in his native Philadelphia, Major Jackson uses the steady, soulful beats of All-American, wholesome jazz music to allow for infinite poetic inspiration in his verses. When he reads his work, he uses a tone of distant insight and close, almost intimate warmth to entice, captivate and entrance the reader into his spell that can last for minutes at a time.

Jackson also uses his musical tastes from when he was a teen, to his later, more adult years in a perfect combination of street like hip hop flow and the heartfelt sadness of jazz to explore the human experience. When discussing what specific public spaces, artists or memories from his home city inspire his work, he recalls the years of his life wandering throughout the streets of his Philadelphia.

In those streets, he was able to explore the most internal, poetic aspect of himself, which allowed him to call on the love of his city.

As a professor of the university of Vermont, Major Jackson assures everyone that philadelphiaPhiladelphia will always be the creative foundation which initiated his poetic artistry, even in this point in his career. Her firmly believes that poetry, should denote and possess a musical, almost rhythmic quality in which the language, musical inspiration and performance become interconnected as a collective movement for every party involved.

Living by the wise words, once stated by Sharon Olds, a Pulitzer prize winner, Major Jackson makes it his primary mission in his creative field to always “write the poem you would never show anyone.” Drawing on a wide range of deep, often times conflicting personal experience, this poet firmly believes that the power of an insightful poem can therefore create a type of “rife raft” for individuals across cultures, backgrounds or experiences to find solace in a common struggle.

As for inspiring, new wide eyed poets on the scene, Major Jackson has a few words to guide these writers through their journey. Jackson advises these poets to a encompass a vast array of styles, beliefs and convictions, vastly different from what you may believe. This, in turn, will not only expand your worldview, but also allow for a healthy, internal debate within your own mind, producing some of your most profound work.

Interestingly enough, Major Jackson also makes a point to to look within yourself in order to not only imitate your influence, but instead write in a way that allows for a collective, almost symbiotic relationship. “Write organically, through your influences,” he states. “Then there will be the writing organically from the evolved craft of poetry’s essence.”

A firm believer in the power, use and widespread use of language, it is no surprise that Major Jackson has been incredibly successful, holding positions such as the current poetry editor of the Harvard review. His most recent work titled “Roll Deep & Poems,” which underlines issues such as human intimacy in platonic and romantic relationships, along with the multitude of implications and convictions within the sphere of online dating.

An interesting vocal form that guides Jackson throughout the creative process is to read his poetic words aloud as he writes them on paper. The poet states that by reading the language out loud, this actually allows him to find new, more innovative ways to create music through new tones in his words, experimenting with syllabic intonation and writing these somewhat pre-form poems.

 

Appreciating World Poetry Day

Poetry has had the ability to speak to people of all backgrounds, religions, political affiliations and beliefs for decades, never failing to provide individuals with the strength they need to find light in darkness. Even in the most difficult times in your life, poetic sounds have the power to not only challenge where you are in your current life stage, but to also allow for profound self-reflection.

The rhythm of the tongue brings wordless music in the air, creating a way for us to explore what our purpose is in this life we call our own. As March 21st was World Poetry Day, the below is some of the most awe-inspiring, stunning verses that force us to challenge our routines, what we think is correct or appropriate and most of all, the importance to never stop questioning or moving forward in our lives.

These words continue to possess a very real, intense power which springs from physical paper that transcend into the humming imagination of its readers from every corner on this earth.

“The weight of the world / is love / Under the burden / of solitude, / under the burden / of dissatisfaction / the weight, / the weight we carry / is love”
‘Song’, Allen Ginsberg

A foundational member of the Beat Generation in the 1950’s in addition to counterculture of mainstream American society that soon became the aftermath, Allen Ginsberg’s poetic words continue to evoke honest, raw emotions in readers that yearn for a certain type of directness. In this short portion of his poem titled “Song,” he is able to convey the conflicting emotions of love, which many of us are unable to express.

“You may write me down in history / With your bitter, twisted lies, / You may trod me in the very dirt / But still, like dust, I’ll rise”
‘Still I Rise’, Maya Angelou

Arguably the most powerful words Angelou has ever written, the poet, author and activist exhibits the utmost courage by not only challenging prose within the genre, but also speaking out to challenge the common structure of society. Her words have the ability to deconstruct concepts or notions about her character with the use of a simple metaphor to highlight her strength.

“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved / in secret, between the shadow and the soul.” ‘Sonnet XVII’, Neruda

Deriving his pen name from the Czech poet Jan Neruda, this Chilean poet won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. Neruda’ contrast of the shadow and soul vs. lightness/darkness to convey how he perceives love as an entity, rather than simply a fleeting emotion or a passing feeling provides the soul limited satisfaction.

 

Beginning the Writing Process

As a deeply personal, creative form of expression, the multifaceted functions of writing itself can endlessly describe everything from sentimental memories of a truly deep struggle you have endured to blissful memories that allow you to positively reflect on a previous encounter.

Although it is sometimes fairly difficult to successfully harness this mental workflow in order to accomplish a certain literary task or goal, it is important to remember to engage topics that possess meaning in your life.

If you write about a topic that deeply affects your emotional state, your readers will recognize that in a way that will allow them to transcendentally connect with your work, thus creating a more symbolic relationship between the writer and the reader. Essentially, choosing a topic that is of interest to you can positively affect your growing relationship with your readers, while also opening your eyes to what specifically resonates with your audience base.

The first step is to start successfully writing is to clearly understand the primary goal of what you would like to artistically achieve in that set timeframe. Gaining a solid grasp of what you intend to write about actually clears up a fair amount of mental or emotional frustration that you may have been building up for awhile.

Whether you decide to write notes down on paper or make a list writing a letteron a google doc, filtering out your thoughts is a useful initial step before delving into the process. Another helpful way to address the initial portion of the process is to craft a simple outline, where you can gather your thoughts and execute your writing task in a way that makes sense for your piece.

Going forward in this writing process, it is absolutely essential to maintain a high level of focus as a means to further the creative flow for the maximum time possible. Avoid checking your phone, email or social media profiles because these distractions have a high tendency of breaking creativity once you start to delve deeper into writing extensively.

Managing expectations throughout the early stages of writing is a good tool to better understand your strengths and weaknesses once a written piece completed, allowing you to analyze room for improvement. It is important to keep the writing flow active for as long as possible. Also, bear in mind that you will always have the time to thoroughly evaluate your writing once you let all your creative juices flow for as long as you can.

Micro-Poetry

There is a new and bold movement taking over the world of poetry. Where once poems were sweeping tales of beauty and sadness, meant to evoke a wide range of emotions, this new trend balks at the lengthy and word-filled pieces of yesterday. Challenging its writers to try something new, micro poetry packs the punch of its more verbose relatives, while saving syllables.

What makes this form so intriguing to poets looking to stretch their mental muscles? Poetry has never had hard and fast guidelines. From humble Haiku to sprawling Epic, poetry can be any length, and about any thing.  Micro poetry is about condensing the thoughtfulness normally attributed to poem crafting, and delivering it in the fewest characters. Poignant, powerful, and poetic, these mini-poems are great for poetry fan and poet, alike.

For those who enjoy the release of writing poetry, micro poetry offers a challenge by upsetting their regularly practiced form. Asking the poet to search their minds for the perfect words, micro poetry is like lifting weights for the brain. We spend our whole lives looking for words, digging into our mental thesaurus to communicate with others. Imagine only having fifty characters to do it?

Rick MaackA unique challenge for those who consider themselves poetically inclined, micro poetry offers a loose set of rules to further drive poets into finding the perfect words. Without room for colorful language and flowery terms, micro poetry is the heart of the artform from which it gets its namesake. To transform words, and those willing to read them.  

Healing Poetry

Time is a force that few are able to stop. The slow creep of age and the progression of years can rob us of many things. While joints are known to ache and hair will grey, few results of age are as frightening as losing your memory. Dementia robs us of our loved ones long before their time, and leaves them with pieces, faded recollections of a long life well lived. But what if there was a way Rick Maackto help those with dementia? What if poetry could reach those who had since been unreachable?

Having lost both of her parents to Alzheimer’s disease, project pioneer Molly Meyer set out on a mission. Her goal, to prevent anyone from having to watch their loved ones fade before their eyes along with years of precious memories along with them. After earning her Master of Fine Arts in poetry, Meyer opened Mind’s Eye Poetry. In her own words, Meyer’s views this as her chance to rewrite dementia, and offer those coping with the frustrating ailment a creative outlet.

Rather than focus on what is missing from her patients, Meyer’s prefers to see the potential in each of her clients. Creative expression is an amazing way to relieve stress, battle depression, and clear the mind. Far too often, patients are treated as being feeble or incapable, further cementing the idea that they are a lost to us. But the nearly 700 pieces of poetry produced by patients in Meyer’s program begs to differ.

With her program focused on anchoring patients in the present moment, allowing them to focus on their work, Meyer’s has already seen some amazing results. Patients, after years of silence, suddenly open up with waves of creative expression. Though dementia may not have a cure at present, Molly has returned some semblance of normalcy for those suffering with it.

For more on the subject, follow this link.

Equality in Art

Art has long been considered a place of free and open communication. A place for those who feel oppressed, misused or underrepresented to come and share their voice, Art is supposed to be free of cultural bias. However, a recent discussion held at Penn for female artists found a shocking inequality in the level of exposure between male and female artists. Instead of tackling this worldwide discrepancy, though, this panel focused on a problem that can very much be solved.

Designed to promote Philadelphia’s female artists, the panel discussed practices, inspirations and the role of being an artist. A career of nebulous boundaries and uncertain returns, becoming an artist is easy and only asks you to express yourself, but making a living from your particular viewpoint requires more savvy than most anticipate. With tips on entering the industry, how to find inspiration for their work and how to self-promote in the art world, this panel of artists did all they could to inform the future of their industry.

While women represent 51 percentRick Maack of visual artists according to a survey held in 2014, they remain woefully underrepresented in the art cities of the world. The National Museum of Women in the Arts announced a shocking statistic when they examined artists represented in New York and Los Angeles. Of the 4,000 artists on the list, only 32.3 percent were women. Additionally, women hold 24 percent of museum director or curator positions.

Though their experiences in the industry differ, many artists feel that their pursuit of art blinds them to the inequalities plaguing their field. This kind of work-related blindness is what allowed the industry to become so skewed, and women the world over are standing up and having their voices heard. The creation, proliferation and celebration of Art is meant to be sacred, and I for one hope balance is found and order is restored.