10 Creative Things to Do Every Month as a Writer

1. Experience Art

Don’t just go and look at art—feel art. Embrace art. Study art. Art takes hard work, patience, silence, a flood of emotions, or a lack of emotions, lots of time. Realize the passion, the technique, the sacrifice art takes. Writers can learn to walk on a painting, a character from a play can inspire our creation for our own, music expresses more ways to say things in beautiful ways like poetry, and every writer can learn something from art. We are all kind of an artist except we paint with words. Museums, concerts, films, and theaters are all great places to seek inspiration.

2. Evaluate Writing & Self

I don’t think writers do this enough. Write a list of both strengths and weaknesses. Work on these, value yourself as a writer, and you should always be growing as one. Track your progress. Keep track of how much or how little you write every day.

I don’t write every day, I write in large quantities, and then I revise. It is a part of my process. Find a pattern and a process and then track whatever you do as a writer, look back at the month and see what you could do for the next month to help improve or better yourself. Things like increasing word count, or what is the difference from night-to-day? Do you write more in the morning or before bed? Do you not dedicate enough time to writing, where-else can you pull that time from? Give yourself goals to reach as a writer and as a reader.

3. Write a 2000 Word Story and Cut It Down to 300

Revision is the hardest thing the writer must do. Writers either tend to go over the word limit, or under the word limit. This challenges you to have a start and a finish. To consider the power of each word. To pay attention to style, syntax, diction, voice, scenes, actions. Everything the writer wants to include and exclude. Pay more attention to the art of your words and the beauty of the story unfolding in a short frame.

Flash writing is very hard for some writers, and easy for some. But finding the balance between word count and style is a goal to strive for.

4. Write in Another’s World

Use the rules of the world to write in. This will challenge your writing skill, we learn best as writers when we are just starting out to write like someone else. To understand the language the same way the author intended for the audience. Do you like the style? The bare language? The overloaded syntax? The rules of magic? The world building? The stage to set the setting? The introduction to the characters?

I still use this exercise to re-emerge myself in language. To follow the rules of someone else, it helps me get out of my head for a while. It helps me get past writer’s block for my own writing projects.

5. Look at and Revise What You Wrote for the Entire Month

I write everything by long hand and then type it. I date everything I write as well. I hate revision, it takes me a long time. So, I write for two weeks, let’s say about 2-4 chapters, and then I revise the last two weeks of the month. I usually rewrite when I revise, or send my chapters off to beta readers and revise based on their feedback. I rely on my beta readers for different things, and I switch between them for different projects.

Looking at what you wrote at the end of the month, and then revising, will improve time management when writing. It will be less work when you have completed the project and when the time comes for edits and publication. It will help ward off the dreaded manual overhaul, I promise.

Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.

Benjamin Franklin

6. Find a Club or Go to a Meeting

If you look online for local meetings, usually there are writing groups and clubs around town. Join one or go to a few group meeting/hangouts. Talking with other writers will teach you a lot if you already don’t do this. I have a group of writing friends and we meet once or twice a month We talk about what we are writing, any new techniques what we learned and what to try, or cool books to read. We also beta read for each other and discuss each other’s writings to help evaluate one another.

Other writers will make you a better writer, guaranteed!

7. Start a Blog or Post on Another’s Blog

Blogs are great because they are filled with advice, links, and current topics of the writing world. Blogs do take a lot of time and work, I won’t lie. But if you are a serious writer, and want to learn thing and want to share those things with others—this is the way to do it. Consider starting one if you haven’t already. It will help build your brand as an author and a writer.

Otherwise, follow a blog by signing up for the newsletter. Or if you know someone with a blog ask them to be a guest writer once in a while. A blog can also help exercise a different way of writing. Have fun with it!

My suggestion would be to post at least once a month and with insightful material and topics to keep your followers and readers interested. A blog is meant to be helpful to other writers and readers, to give encouragement, inspiration, and advice. Be truthful. Be generous. Be awesome.

8. Listen to a New Song, Watch a New Movie, New TV Show, etc.

This is all about inspiration, creativity, and imagination. Write a prompt from a song title or from the lyrics. Use a TV show to write in an author’s world different than your own. Or a movie to spark a possible plot twist in a story you are writing, or write a trope used in the movie.

Explore a video game with one of your own characters. Instead of just reading a book for your pleasure, look for literary crafts the author used, and try to implement them into your story. Use anime for imagination. Write a short story based on the theme of the anime, or the daily life of a character, but them doing everything the opposite. Where does the story take you then?

9. Find a New Author or Blog to Read

Constantly expand your horizons as a writer. Maybe even try reading outside your favorite authors and genres, and explore other blogs. They will have tips and that can be unique to add to your skill set. Every genre has a set of techniques, and crossing genres is thrilling for both the story and the reader.

The tools you can add to your writing toolbox will always improve your style and story.

10. Write a to Do List for the Next Month

Some writers are organized and some aren’t. It doesn’t matter if your writing process is organized or messy, keep track of what needs to be done. Once you start writing a list, it may become overwhelming, but call it a master list. Take 3 or 5 things off that list to do every month. It increases productivity as well as positivity. Your brain releases endorphins when you check a box down, and it feels good to accomplish things.

Here is an example of my list for the month:

·         Revise chapter one based on critiques

·         Finish writing chapter two

·         Finish writing chapter three

·         Send both two and three to Amber for beta reading

·         Write and publish a blog post

This is an article from my blog on HubPages and you can click on the link below to read it or check out my other articles!

10 Creative Things to Do Every Month as a Writer

The Roller-Coaster Poem

So, what is a roller-coaster poem?  “Roller Coaster” would be a pretty good title for a poem, story, song, movie, anything (I’m a sucker for short or one-word titles), but that’s not what I’m talking about.  You may have read that title and thought to yourself “what the heck?” but I’ll explain.

First of all, I don’t actually like roller coasters.  That feeling of rushing down a steep drop where your stomach seems to be floating somewhere in your chest and your palms are cold, yet also sweaty, is not a feeling I enjoy.  I avoid riding roller coasters, but I love when a good poem is a roller coaster.

I’ve mentioned a few times before that I love finding something unexpected in a poem.  This comes from a poetry class I took in college that completely blew my mind and focused on collaborative poetry.  I’m not necessarily one for collaborating on work other than to get feedback and exchange ideas, but this class introduced me to the beauty that is two different trains of thought colliding together (I suppose you could call a poem written this way a train wreck poem, too, if we are going with that metaphor.  But for now, I’ll stick to roller coasters).

This class taught me that some of the most amazing literary genius comes from unlikely comparisons.  From gangly language put together with lyricism, from opposite words being clashed together, from two divergent roads unexpectedly converging out of the blue.

When this happens, I like to think of it as a roller coaster.  When riding along on a roller coaster, there’s always some sort of hint of where you are going.  You can, after all, see what’s in front of you. You may have gazed up at the metal monster you were about to hop aboard while in line and memorized some of the curves and drops.  Yet, when those curves and drops happen, and you get that feeling of your gut being suspended in air, they’re still unexpected. You can’t prepare for that feeling, even if you have felt it a million times.

I like to think that the best poems are a bit like riding that roller coaster.  We’ve all read poems before—we’ve studied sonnets or been shocked by the vivid simplicity of a few lines of free verse.  We’ve all probably tried our hand at writing a poem. Some of us would call ourselves poets, and some of us thought “never again” after writing the final line.  But what separates poems from the “never again” category and the breathtaking category?

It’s the roller coaster of reading that takes place in a good poem.  I love when I’m reading a sonnet, but it’s written in the most un-Shakespeare like language I’ve ever seen.  I love when I’m drawn into the voice and lyricism of a poem only to have it change and morph as I go (…almost like two different people wrote it…)  I love when I’m riding along with a poem up, up, up and suddenly, the bottom falls out from under me when an unexpected comparison comes to life or the so-called plot suddenly jeers left.

Part of the beauty of poetry is that you can make those sudden drops and roller coaster turns.  Throwing in a crazy word that doesn’t make any sense can make your poem come to life in a way that it didn’t in the first line.  Not all writing can handle this change, but poetry can. Poetry allows for an obscure and crazy roller coaster ride—the scarcity of language in a poem leaves room for the unexpected.

So, try it yourself!  Pretend you are two different people writing a poem.  Add in a drop here and a curve there. Take your reader on a wild ride—and send us your roller coaster poem once you’re done experimenting!

Cover image courtesy of PixaBay.

Writerly Inspirations: August Thirtieth

Happy Friday! This week on the blog we have another collaborative piece you can take with you into the holiday weekend.

Addey and I collaborated on a poem (poems are easier to write collaboratively it seems!) that you can read below.

To concoct this poem, Addey and I texted lines back and forth (we stole the idea from the poem Amber and Addey wrote a few weeks ago). It’s a fun way to get some inspiration if you’re feeling a little bit stuck–you never know where a poem or story is going to go when using this method, and usually it’s not where you would expect!

Try collaborating with a writer friend and see how your separate inspirations combine into one creative work, and check out our poem below!

Sleepwalker

by Nicole McConnell and Addey Vaters

What does it mean?

When you dream about someone–

someone lost to the dark abyss?

And no gravity exists to pull you to the light.

A light that glistens on broken shards of mirror

like the stars had fallen from the sky.

The sky might as well have fallen down–

it should have, but you held up the sky as every

night I dreamed to have your strength–

prayed that the falling stars would give me peace,

because every day I have to wake without you.

Six Word Prompt: A Girl and A Lion

Write a story or poem and tell a tale but in six words–of where this little girl came from; where she is going; if the lion she is dragging is really a stuffed animal or if it protects the little girl from monsters at night; or if the lion teaches the girl to be a little princess warrior by day and night. What adventures has that road carried them on? Whatever sparks the ignition, use it to write about this girl and her lion. 

Please comment below with your six word story or poem.

Writerly Inspirations: July Nineteenth

This week on the blog we have another collaborative piece–this time written by our fiction and poetry editors. It’s not an exquisite corpse, per se, but was written in a similar style.

To concoct this poem, Amber and Addey texted lines back and forth. It’s a fun way to get some inspiration if you’re feeling a little bit stuck–you never know where a poem or story is going to go when using this method, and usually it’s not where you would expect!

Try collaborating with a writer friend and see how your separate inspirations combine into one creative work, and check out Amber and Addey’s poem below!

Night Rider

by Amber Porter and Addey Vaters

A glimmer, a splash of steel in the night.

Stars twinkle in shimmering red metallic pigment,

copper stringlets woven between fingers.

Frustration escaped her lips in a loud sigh.

Ignorance is bliss they say,

but his ignoring her was far from blissful.

Clouds moved across the sky, shrouding the moon—

the stars now ignoring her, too.

Fate seemed determined to make her feel less than.

No—enough.  It was her turn to do the ignoring.

Turning her back on the moon,

she yanked the car door open.  Plucking keys

from their hiding place, she revved the car and sped away—

leaving him to his Apple illuminated face.

A Writing Prompt

This week I have a writing prompt for you. It’s nothing too outlandish and should, hopefully, be a fun challenge.

Write a short story—or flash fiction piece—that has seamlessly integrated the first ten titles of your current song playlist or watch list.

Remember that you shouldn’t be afraid of wherever your writing takes you!

I hope you all have a good week, and I wouldn’t mind seeing some results of this prompt in our spring journal submissions!

Hone in on Your Creativity!

Experience art once a month to gain creativity!

Some places to go:

Museum

Concert

To see a film

Theater

Local monuments

National parks

State parks

Go for a hike

A festival

Some place magical

Don’t just go and look at paintings or try to find art—feel art, it will find you. Embrace the emotions. Study the craft. 

Any artist knows it takes hard work, patience, silence, a flood of emotions, or a lack of emotions, and sooo much time to create—and it helps if you have natural talent. And if you don’t, the great thing about art is everyone can do it at any level. I learned how to paint like I learned how to ride a bike (both of which, I learned from my father).

So, think about the passion—where does the artist’s love of art come from, the technique—are they self-taught or professionally taught, the sacrifice art takes—working a full-time job could mean art is clocking in during personal time (unless you get to create art for your job, in which case I envy you).

Artists learn from other artists, in my opinion, just as writers learn from other writers. So, how can experiencing art once a month help you?

Writers can learn to walk into a painting. A character from a play can inspire a creation of your own. Music expresses more ways to say things in beautiful ways like poetry, since writing song lyrics is a form of poetry. Every writer can learn something from art. I am a painter, and what I feel and what I want to say I can conveying through a painting.

So when I go to an art festival, I carry around a small pocket book. I jot down what I see—colors, shapes, animals, animated people, clothes people are wearing, face paint on children, the Ferris wheel turning high in the sky, and the type of art I would like to recreate but differently and in my own style. I take these creative notes home and I can write by using them as prompts, or start a painting by trying to imitate the Ferris wheel as a clock with the people in the little buckets as the numbers.

While sitting at an art museum, I sit in front of a painting and use it as my muse to write a story. What kind of world would that painting be, what characters would exist there, and I attempt to give the story the tone the painting gives in the form of emotion.

Or while hiking, sit down to sketch the chipmunks chasing each other. Or write a story about how the leaves of trees whisper to each other.

The greatest inspiration for me is when I am connected to mother nature because she teaches us what beauty in art is after all.