In Your Corner : Three Ways to Celebrate YOUR Poetry This National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month!  This poses an interesting challenge for those among us who are poets: while the rest of the world is celebrating the works of poets they admire, writers of poetry must themselves rise to the challenge of becoming the wordsmiths they wish to be.  This challenge is not perhaps specific to April––but it is pushed to the front burner, so to speak.

So what is a poet to do in a month set aside for celebrating poets and what they do?

I have three suggestions:

1. Set yourself a writing challenge.

The first thing to do, as a person dedicated to a specific craft and art form, is to continue working to improve your skill set.  And as my creative writing instructor in college used to say, “You will never be so good at this that you can afford to stop practicing.”  (Which might explain why she gave me her copy of Baking Illustrated, now that I come to think of it.)  Regardless, I’m grateful to her for never letting up, never allowing me to relax into the assumption that I’d learned all I was going to learn and raised the bar as high as it would go.  (I’m also grateful because she introduced me to loose-leaf lapsang souchong tea, but that’s entirely beside the point.)  The old adage “Practice Makes Perfect” is dead wrong.  To strive for perfection is to set ourselves up for failure every time, but to strive for improvement–to challenge ourselves to get better–is worth ten of that.  So set yourself a writing challenge, one that fits your routine and schedule and needs, and use it as an opportunity to hone your form.

2. Go digital.

Many of my friends who went on to be poets–and there are many–have an aversion to social media.  I’m not entirely sure why there’s more of this tendency among my poet friends than among my friends who write prose and nonfiction, and I know that my cohort is not quite a representative statistical sample, but the tendency seems common.  It might have something to do with the intimate nature of poetry–it is, like much writing, a deeply private act that aims to generate a public–or semi-public–product.  So this April, I’d like to challenge you to go digital.  Not just as a person, but as a writer.  Experiment with a variety of social media options–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, Tumblr, Snapchat, and more–and do so as a poet.  Find your readers where they live, and meet them there.

3. Create a following.

But you know, not in a creepy way like in the television show.  Once you’re on social media, take advantage of the opportunity to post snippets of your work, updates from behind the scenes as you write, and generally work to create the cult of personality that surrounds books with that oh-so-important “buzz” factor.  This will help generate interest in your book, once you’re ready to publish–and will form a rock-solid foundation for your marketing strategy.

writing poetry in the woods, national poetry month 2016

If you’re not comfortable projecting yourself as a poet into the digital sphere, that’s okay.  There are reasons for those feelings, for reticence.  I simply hope, in my own small way, to encourage you with this reassurance: your work deserves to be read, and admired.  You are a poet, even if you haven’t yet published your book of poetry.  You’ll get there, in your own time, and when you’re ready.  Most of all, I want you to know that you have a community here who supports you all the way.

You are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Back to Writing: Publishing Challenge

August is here and as summer is winding down, it’s time to get back to your writing and publishing goals.  Each week this month I will present you with a writing challenge for the week.  Come back every Wednesday to join the challenge and get back into the habit of writing on a regular basis. As Desiderius Erasmus once said, “The desire to write grows with writing.”

Over the past three weeks, I hope I’ve been able to help you get back into writing by completing the poetry challenge, short story challenge, and 15 minute challenge.

Now that you are feeling motivated and inspired to write, perhaps you have started thinking about publishing. Have you been working on a book you want to publish? Or have you always wanted to write and publish something, but haven’t started yet?  This week, your challenge is to set mini writing goals to get you from where you are now to where you want to be: I call this the publishing challenge.  

Let’s say you want to be a published author by the end of the year and you are about half finished with writing your book.  Imagine what you have left to write and set goals for each week in September, October and November (if necessary).  Give yourself some room the last couple of months as the publishing process can take several weeks.

The more you have left to write, the more aggressive your goals may need to be, but challenge yourself to write a chapter a week (or a certain number of pages or a certain number of words) to get you to your end goal of publishing a book by a reasonable date.  Then, discipline yourself to meet your goal each week and be sure to review your goals often to be sure you’re on target.

Good luck and happy writing!

 

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Back to Writing: 15 Minute Challenge

August is here and as summer is winding down, it’s time to get back to your writing and publishing goals.  Each week this month I will present you with a writing challenge for the week.  Come back every Wednesday to join the challenge and get back into the habit of writing on a regular basis. As Desiderius Erasmus once said, “The desire to write grows with writing.”

Over the past two weeks, I hope I’ve been able to help you get back into writing by completing the poetry challenge and short story challenge. Both of these tasks were designed to get you back into the routine of writing and to get the creative juices flowing. (If you missed the first two challenges, be sure to go back and check them out by clicking the links above.)

This week, I have yet another challenge for you: the 15 minute challenge. Your goal is to write a fiction story with one main character and a crime.  Here’s the catch — you have 15 minutes.  The “rules” are as follows:

1) Set your timer.

Once you are ready to start the challenge, set a timer for 15 minutes. No working on the story before or after your timer is set.

2) Focus on quantity, not quality.

For the 15 minutes, try not to stress about the details. Just write like the wind. Write whatever comes to mind. Don’t worry about fixing mistakes. Just write as much as you can for 15 minutes. You can always go back and “fix” the story later.

3) Keep going.

After completing the challenge you could do a couple of things. 1) You could be proud of yourself for completing the challenge and taking the time to write. You don’t ever have to look at the story again. You completed the goal. 2) You could let the challenge inspire a new project, such as a self-published crime novel. 3) You could decide you like the story and choose to go back and continue working on it.

No matter what you decide to do after completing the challenge, be proud of yourself for taking 15 minutes to write. The more you write, the more likely you are to find success as a writer.

After you complete the challenge, feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear about the story you wrote this week.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Back to Writing: Poetry Challenge

August is here and as summer is winding down, it’s time to get back to your writing and publishing goals.  Each week this month I will present you with a writing challenge for the week.  Come back every Wednesday to join the challenge and get back into the habit of writing on a regular basis. As Desiderius Erasmus once said, “The desire to write grows with writing.”

Last week I wrote about the short story challenge and asked you to write a 500 word story inspired by your summer. Hopefully, the challenge got you back in the routine of writing, and you are ready to take the next challenge. (If you missed last week’s post, check it by clicking here.)

This week, your challenge is to write a poem about summer.  Start by brainstorming: Do you have memories from the summers of your youth?  Does something about summer have a special meaning to you or inspire you in some way?

Feel free to play with different formats and poetry techniques. Perhaps, you could take the same topic and write about it in several different formats such as haiku, free verse, epic poem, and sonnet.

The key is to let your creative juices flow. Poetry is not about perfection; it is about expression. You never know, these poems may spark an idea for a larger project such as a poetry book, or you may decide poetry isn’t your thing but you’d love to turn the piece into a short story or novel. Just relax and be creative.

After you complete the challenge, feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear about the poem(s) you wrote this week.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.