Nicole McConnell already has two college degrees, and she still isn’t stopping. She grew up in Iowa and loves her Midwestern roots and her roly poly pug. She is a blogger for Hubpages and a Freelance editor and writer on the Kenna Jackson’s Writing Tips. She has also served on the committee for her college Literary Journal. Her dreams are to become a more published author, to share her worlds with others, hopefully to inspire them to write, find creative ways into writing, and build empires and kingdoms by slaying with words.
Keep a journal of words—just for words—you are either inspired by, learned recently, how an author used a word within a sentence that made the word stand out, prompts you want to someday write about, or words that have an interesting meaning, like elysian.
You can use this journal for inspiration and writing prompts when you need it. If I am stuck, I will flip through mine and an idea usually sparks from the pages to my fingertips and from my fingertips to the keyboard and from the keyboard to the creation of a story being unfolded. And this is what I call magic. Letters are the pixie and words are the dust, and together they create the story built from its magical pixie dust.
As a writer we are thieves of words, don’t be shy, those beautiful words are meant from someone to take, so have fun filling your journal with words simply made from 26 letters. If you already have one of these journals, share a few words from it in the comments below!
Today we are releasing our Spring 2021 journal. These stories and poems are sprinkled with a little bit of humor, a little bit of reality, a little bit of horror, a little bit of color added to the mundane, and so much more!
Take a moment of borrowed solace in this crazy time to sit down and read the delightfully creative fiction and poetry, and the relatable nonfiction that will pull at the heartstrings and your sense of wonder.
If you like what you see and read, don’t hesitate to submit to our next themed journal coming this fall. Addey has picked our theme. She chose “tamed.” We’re looking for nonfiction, fiction, poetry and art that encompasses how to make one or something less powerful; how to control, to master the will, to cultivate an imagination full of wildness. As always, we love unconventional interpretations of our themes–so bring on your creativity! We cannot wait to see what you have in store. Submissions will open tomorrow, May 1, 2021.
We will also be releasing dates soon for a contest that will entail our very first journal ever! We have it in print and it will be available to buy this summer. We will be giving away a few books to those who win the contest! Also, we are now venturing into the special edition of borrowed solace, we picked out the best of what we have published so far and will be turning those craft-filled pages into a book filled with interviews and craft essays from the authors and poets. Stay tuned for more on that too!
As with every writer, we like our habits, our certain ways and order. According to psychology studies, we are habitual animals to begin with. Habits are what keep us normal. Every writing ritual will be different from writer to writer, but that is what makes us different in our writing process from others. Our writing process is our own due to the habits we develop to write.
For my writing ritual, which I would like to share is doing a lot of different things and at random, but it is always the same things.
Here is my list: I keep a creative journal, but mostly filled with judgment on I see and the universe’s wisdom I hear.
I write a loooooot to prompts, usually to images of worlds I would love to live in
Reseaaarch a toooooon–you can never be too prepared.
Write different scenes of my book: I go from linear to circular all the time when writing. Linear writing is writing the book chronologically and straight through. Circular writing is moving from one chapter to a different chapter and not writing the story in order—writing and coloring in the lines isn’t always fun
Go for a hike or for a walk by the river, nature brings back the magic my pixie dust needs
Collaborate writing a poem or exquisite corpse with someone—gather other sentences to steal from other writers (there doesn’t have to be shame in that)
Read a book/poem/flash story—studying others always helps
Do a draft—get them creative juices flowing! Magic is more magical when there is more imagination
Brainstorm alone or with a friend, two brains are truly better than one
Sit my butt in a chair and force myself to write no matter what! But writer’s block usually defeats me when I go head-to-head
Clean or garden–there is something about dirt and roots that transfers the worlds magic back into my hands
Sit down at an actual typewriter and bleed to the muses…which usually ends in shambles and with the keys getting stuck and the paper crumpled
Write in the comments below, I want to know and learn what your ritual is…
Currently we are working on branding and marketing! We want to learn more about what makes people read the journal. If you are interested in providing feedback, please email us your thoughts at email@example.com. We would like to know what makes you read the journal, if you would recommend it to others, and what we could do better.
The print version of “hinterlands” is coming along nicely, it’s taken a lot longer than we expected, but Amber is working hard. This year we will be working on two print projects. We will be doing a contest/giveaway and will have preordering available, so watch for those details! The second print project will be a collection and insight into what makes a story or poem really good with stories and poems from the past, essays on the author’s crafts from the present, and writing prompts for the future to create, too! Watch for more information to come.
We are restarting the podcast! Addey is working hard recruiting guests, if you want to be one, just email us for more information on how. We are also launching as a part of the podcasts a new segment called story time! One week a month, a story or poem from a past journal will be read. An exclusive interview with the author to dive into their craft and work will be a part of it, too!
Planners and workbooks to come! I am working hard on putting together writing planners and story workbooks for writers to use when creating, keeping projects on track, and having fun organizing the chaos of life. It will be an easy, but needed, place to keep lists of characters, plot ideas, poems you have written, what you have sent out for submissions, a congratulations page when you get published, etc. Look for more insights to come soon!
Spring 2021 journal, we are now in phase two with edits. We want to honor the authors and poets that were accepted into the journal. We take care with edits to make the manuscript the best it can be! After edits are done and returned, time for phrase three: putting the journal together. We are going with a western, train, Wyoming, gold-digging, cliffing stone-carving kind of theme! It will look better than it sounds…stay tuned for sneak peeks coming up in the next few weeks.
And as always, please reach out to us editors on social media or via email if you have any questions, concerns, or want to participate in even more ways with the journal!
We have selected the finalists for the Spring 2021 journal. For everyone who submitted, you will receive a decision soon in the submissions manager or via email. Congratulations on those who were selected. Keep an eye out for those acceptance emails as the editors move into phase 2: the editing process.
We challenged ourselves with this journal as we are going to try and do all of the background art ourselves. We are headed to Wyoming in a few weeks for some outside adventure, and to safely embrace the cold, maybe snow, and beautiful sites Wyoming has to offer (we may also dabble in what South Dakota has to offer, too). We are also staying in a supposedly haunted hotel, maybe some ghost blogs/stories to come!
Many people can argue that a writer is better fit to write either prose or poetry? Are they right? Others will argue that if you master writing poetry, than you can master writing prose, and you have the ability to write both. Are they right? If you are a beginner, how do you know where to start: poetry or prose? If you are a more experienced writer: how do you know if you really are meant to be a prose or poetry writer? In my own opinion, people can write both, but slant to writing one better.
Think of it this way, writing prose is like writing or being more suited to writing script. Prose is really any form of writing by putting words into a specific order for others to read like nonfiction and fiction genre writing. Poetry is really using figurative language to convey a message through verse, meter, rhythm and/or rhyme.
So ask yourself:
Are you more attracted to films/movies than stills/moments?
Do enjoy storytelling? Telling people stories from your life? Or stories you created?
Do you prefer to read stories over poems?
If you said yes to these questions, then you are more suited to writing prose over poetry. If you said no, you might slant more towards writing poetry. Prose writing are like films, we have before the action, the action, and then what happens after the action. In most poetry, we just have a slice of the moment, snapshot taken of the moment the poet has chosen to written.
Finding the right one…
Here is an exercise you can do: write down a creative thought, it could be a topic, a writing prompt, a moment of inspiration, something you want to write about whether it be poetry or prose. Now take that thought and list 20 words that communicate or describe the writing idea. Once you have those words, create and write! Use them in a poem less than 20 lines and in a short story less than 500 words.
Re-read each, which one was easier to write? Which one was harder to write? Which one is written better? Which form, poetry or prose, have you best communicated the creative thought?
Whichever is best is what you are more suited to or have more experience in writing. I have written fiction since I was nine. Stories about aliens coming from out of the sky to god-like beings raging war on earth with magic (I like fantasy) to also going to college to become a grim reaper in society as a job (please don’t steal my ideas). In college, (just a few years ago) I learned I was way better at poetry, even though I hated it since I was a child. Though some self-discovery with my writing self, I learned I am naturally more suited for writing poetry than what I was for fiction. My only struggle on writing prose is the structure and I write like I talk. From some reason on writing critics that is what confused people. When I write poetry, I found though there are rules, it is more my engaging to my brain and I have more independence for my creative mind to express what it wants more freely and spontaneously. Reading critics on my poetry come back more positive, I have even had poetry published in literary journals.
So how can you really tell if you are meant for poetry or prose?
Poetry is art, so are you more direct and straightforward with your writing? Do you like figurative language and the aesthetic properties of words and how to use them? Is your writing more moved by the beauty of language?
Prose is communication: is the form of writing longer than poetry? Does it consist of characters, narration, a plot, and is the reader moved by the message rather than the language?
It really boils down to your artistic sense, do you craft language to be read as art or do you craft a story to be unfold in a series of crafted letters and words? Who do you want as your audience, and how do you want to communicate to them? With musical language where meaning is conveyed through sounds or is the message more important than the language, which is prose.
Another exercise you can do, is to take the same exercise you did earlier and give it to a friend, family member, co-worker, even a stranger and have them read both the poem and story. What are their critics or takes on your writing? What does this tell you as a writer?
The beauty about writing is that it is not picky, you can marry it or divorce it, put it on the side and forget about it, or plant it and watch your words grow every day. So have fun with self-discovery on what kind of writer you were meant to be!
Why? Here is what you can learn from these authors and their writing:
If you break his sentences down, record his syntax, find his diction, and watch for his descriptions, you’ll learn a lot from this author. Steinbeck is famous for simple syntax and diction that contrasts his complex descriptions. There are six keys things to his writing:
1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.
For more check out the article here:
Also a great insight is TheParis Review. They interview authors, and get the in-depth reasoning of how they view their own writing.
Mailer can teach you many journalistic techniques in this book. He also refers to himself in the third person. He uses very complex syntax and imagery filled with lots and lots of thoughts and beliefs and values.
Didion can teach you how to write in a masculine syntax, the same syntax and descriptions as Steinbeck. Didion even admits she broke Steinbeck’s sentences down to understand them and learn how to write like him. She writes fiction like nonfiction, and can be intimate as well as distant with her characters. She also often omits commas and has very short chapters within this novel.
11 Writing Tips From Joan Didion, Because She Knows A Thing Or Two About It (from Bustle.com)
1. “Novels are like paintings, specifically watercolors. Every stroke you put down you have to go with. Of course you can rewrite, but the original strokes are still there in the texture of the thing.”
2. “Yes, and the last sentence in a piece is another adventure. It should open the piece up. It should make you go back and start reading from page one.”
3. “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”
4. “The impulse to write things down is a particularly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself.”
5. “It’s hostile in that you’re trying to make somebody see something the way you see it, trying to impose your idea, your picture. It’s hostile to try to wrench around someone else’s mind that way. Quite often you want to tell somebody your dream, your nightmare. Well, nobody wants to hear about someone else’s dream, good or bad; nobody wants to walk around with it. The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to the dream.”
6. “Let me tell you one thing about why writers write: had I known the answer to any of these questions I would never have needed to write a novel.”
7. “All I know about grammar is its infinite power. To shift the structure of a sentence alters the meaning of that sentence, as definitely and inflexibly as the position of a camera alters the meaning of the object photographed.”
8. 8. “As a writer, even as a child, long before what I wrote began to be published, I developed a sense that meaning itself was resident in the rhythms of words and sentences and paragraphs… The way I write is who I am, or have become…”
9. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”
10. “What’s so hard about that first sentence is that you’re stuck with it. Everything else is going to flow out of that sentence. And by the time you’ve laid down the first two sentences, your options are all gone.”
11. “I think of writing anything at all as a kind of high-wire act. The minute you start putting words on paper you’re eliminating possibilities.”
He is a poet. Turner can teach you how to observe from the outside and describe the details from the inside. He uses strong images and strong metaphors to explain the world.
In this book, Hamid can teach you how to place the setting and how to position the gender of the narrator; how to use archetypes to exchange with the story, and how to set the tone of a story.
See more about his writing style and thoughtshere.
If you want to write a confusing and complex story that confuses the hell out of your reader, then read this book to learn how twisted your readers can get over what you write. Also, if you want to learn how to write a story set in the 1950s, this is a great book to learn the diction of the time. She uses repetitive images throughout to carry the theme of the book as well.
If you want to learn how to write Cyberpunk, here you go. Gibson is kind of the forefather to this genre even though he refuses the title. The great thing about Cyberpunk is it can teach a writer how to create complex descriptions about a single thing using several figurative language techniques. These quotes are both from his book:
“His eyes were eggs of unstable crystal, vibrating with a frequency whose name was rain and the sound of trains, suddenly sprouting a humming forest of hair-fine glass spines.”
“A year here and he still dreamed of cyberspace, hope fading nightly. All the speed he took, all the turns he’d taken and the corners he cut in Night City, and he’d still see the matrix in his dreams, bright lattices of logic unfolding across that colourless void… The Sprawl was a long, strange way home now over the Pacific, and he was no Console Man, no cyberspace cowboy. Just another hustler, trying to make it through. But the dreams came on in the Japanese night like livewire voodoo, and he’d cry for it, cry in his sleep, and wake alone in the dark, curled in his capsule in some coffin hotel, hands clawed into the bedslab, temper foam bunched between his fingers, trying to reach the console that wasn’t there.”
What’s makes his writing so unique is the eloquence of his syntax and his rhetorical attack of any topic. Baldwin really lets readers view the world the way he views the world. His sentences may be short, but they are packed with dynamite syntax. He likes to write a sentence that has heart–making the reader feel. Despite this, his style was criticized for being over-bearing, too moral, and too direct with any moral statements. Most of the topics he writes about are morally complex, so if you want a character who can be complex with morals, learn from the nonfiction of Baldwin.