Friday, February 20, 2009

WOW! Women on Writing Blog: The Muffin

WOW! Women on Writing Blog: The Muffin

Keeping it Short in Your Writing

Posted: 20 Feb 2009 07:30 AM CST

by Jill Earl

With numerous versions of the '25 Random Things' craze online, you may be ready to deck the next person tagging you to participate! Instead of resorting to violence, cast your eyes upon this creative take for writers.

Roy Peter Clark, author, and long-time faculty member of The Poynter Institute, came up with '25 Non-Random Things About Writing Short', a handy list of steps to short writing. What I really liked about Mr. Clark's piece was the emphasis on getting rid of excess to keep your writing short and tight, while keeping things light.

One of my favorite tips is number 12: Imagine a short piece from the get-go. Conceive a sonnet, not an epic. I'm visualizing nuggets instead of a whole chicken here.

How about using a journal specifically for your short writing? That's tip number one and will be created shortly.

You can also find inspiration from quotes of a few writers on the list, such as number 22 from Mark Twain: "You may need more time, not less, to write something good and short."

For the rest of the list, direct your eyes here:

Keeping it short in my writing. Okay, I'm on it!

Journal Writing: Stuck in a Rut?

Posted: 19 Feb 2009 10:11 PM CST

I'm an avid journal writer. But, there are time lapses in my multiple journals. It's the same with my blog. Some days I write eloquent essays that probably should've been submitted for publication. And on other days, I just rant about what is happening on the family farm or at speech practice.

Honestly, some days I'm not inspired. Writing is hard work (contrary to what a lot of people tell me) and coming up with fresh ideas can lead to frustration. More often than not, I come up with interesting ideas. But on those days when nothing seems to go my way, how can I acknowledge my existence as a writer? What if I don't think I have anything to say.

Write. Something.

In Note to Self: On Keeping A Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Samara O'Shea, the author compares journal writing to a mix tape. You use other people's words and concepts to express your feelings.

What a great concept! The first journal I ever kept is filled with quotes, song lyrics, poems, and tidbits of trivial information. They document my life at that specific moment in time. When I reread what I wrote, I see an intelligent young woman who was ready to face the world on her own. And I also visualize a scared girl who wasn't always secure in her own skin.

O'Shea writes that writing other's words in your journal can help you find yourself. And I agree! She discusses several options in her book, including:
  • Poetry. When I look through my old journals, I follow the journey of poetry appreciation and notice that when in high school, I found comfort in poems that reflected themes of friendship and young love. When I was 20-something, I must have purchased a lot of "Best of" anthologies because I note several poems that are seemingly unrelated. And now, I study words and phrases by Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, and Brian Turner.
  • Song lyrics. In my first journal, only one song is printed among the pages. "Best of My Love" by the Eagles graces one page. While I enjoy music and sing off key to the radio or CMT, the lack of music in some journals tells me that I might have been in a dark period in my life. The music returned to life in one of my last journals. The songs printed on the pages include songs by Three Doors Down, Mercy Me, Hoobastank, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and LeAnn Rimes. What does that say about my life?
  • Quotes. I have quotes from speeches, plays, movies, TV shows and books alongside the words of the famous and not-so-famous. A quote says a lot about the person you are and the person you will eventually be.

If you find yourself stuck in a journal-writing rut, consider penning someone else's words to jumpstart your creativity. It will put words on paper and serve as a benchmark for where you are at on a personal level.

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