March 3 Debrief

We had a good meeting on Saturday.  Louis introduced us to the beginning of his next story involving a gifted student.  Gary brough in a one act play with two evolving characters.

I will be at the Blasco library this Thursday March 8 from 4:30-6PM in room 102 (downstairs). Bring some writing to share, or we can discuss setting up and using a blog.  Write a little every day!  See you soon.  ~Tom~


You Should Be Reading Blogs

Reading inspires me to write.  Often it doesn’t matter what I read, though I will say, if I want to be inspired to write a poem – well, I read poetry.

If you are unsure what to read, you should start searching online for blogs that cater to your tastes and hobbies.  You may need to weed out some poorly written blogs.  You may need to avoid blogs that people start but then never update.  You may want to avoid blogs that have too many advertisements flashing in your face.  The point is, once you have found a few blogs you would like to keep up with, you will want to know when new posts are updated to those blogs.  A simple solution to that is to use an aggregator.

Fear not, this is simply an online tool that keeps track of all the blogs you follow.  When a new post goes up on a blog that you follow, you’re aggregator will set that post aside for you.  You can read it now; or later; or never.  Think of your aggregator as a personal secretary who organizes all of your incoming blog posts.

My favorite aggregator is Feedly.  It allows you to create your own categories, then drop your blog feeds into an appropriate folder.  I currently have folders for typewriter related blogs, Crafting blogs, classical music blogs, letter writing blogs, and of course writing blogs.

Many writers start blogs to share their own writing.  Great.  Want to read what other people are writing in gothic fiction?  Google “gothic fiction blogs”.  You’ll be presented with many, many options.  Some will be blogs attached to websites that advertise for publishing, agents, books, etc.  That’s fine.  Check out the blog.  If you don’t like it, don’t add it to your feed.  I didn’t find a personal blog regarding gothic fiction until the third google search page, so be patient.  Soon you’ll be finding blogs you want to read regularly.

Not sure how to add new content to your new feedly account?  Here’s a web page that will tell you all about it.  It may seem very technical but trust me, if you take a little time and experiment with it, you will be rewarded.  Pertinent news feeds and blogs will be at your fingertips in no time.  The best part of all is, you can always use google (or your favorite search engine) to learn about RSS feeds, blogs, podcasts, vlogs – anything that might be helpful to you personally.

Want to keep track of your favorite blogs easily?  Check out the Feedly aggregator.  If you have any specific questions, let me know and I’ll help you out.  ~Tom~

Celebrate The Warm-up With Writing

Greetings gutsy word scribes!  We should be melting this weekend, let’s celebrate!  Our next writer meeting will be this Saturday, January 20 at 2:30PM.  Plan to bring 5+ copies of any writing you would like reviewed by the other writers.  Don’t have anything?  Sit down before Saturday and scribble out some words.  I myself am a procrastinator, but I can always bring in something – you can too!

See you at the Blasco library this Saturday!  ~Tom~

P.S. Don’t forget to avail yourself of the online resources and  library books for guidance.    Have fun, and get it done.

The New Year-Resolve To Write!

Happy new year dauntless wordsmiths!

Power of Words

This is a great time to make one bold resolution- to write even more in 2018.

Here are some links to get you motivated.

Don’t forget to use this very website for more inspiration and motivation.  I just updated the Writing Resources page with more links.

Wishing you many prosperous (writing) experiences in 2018.  Cheers!  ~Tom~


Cutups and Blackouts

As a writer, you owe it to yourself to explore cutouts and blackouts.


You simply take a page of text and arrange (or rearrange) the words to form a poem.

Here we have visual art imposed to enhance the effect…


…but it’s easy to just clip a page into 4 quadrants and rearrange them, looking for segments that resonate.  Write the poem you hear.  When you need to jumpstart your writing, this is a great place to go.  ~TH~

The Empowering Effect Of Non-comparison

The Empowering Effect Of Non-comparison

sand_castleImagine a child on the sunny beach, building a sand castle.  She has her pail and shovel. She has unlimited amounts of media including sand, water, stones, sticks and shells.  As the creation rises, she recognizes in the materials the infinite possibilities of combination.  This is perceived as great wealth for creation and re-creation.  Once completed, there will be cajoling to come and see, see what I created!  There is also the learned understanding that the castle is ephemeral.  It will not exist tomorrow, unless she decides to build again.

Suppose she comes to the beach the next day, prepared to create an even better castle.  As she hurries to the sea she looks left.  A child and his mother are building an entire town around a beautifully manicured castle, complete with drawbridge, parapets and banners.  We can infer that our little girl’s excitement might be undercut, joy bleeding slowly out.  Sound familiar?

When I taught music in public schools, I was often distraught by my student’s immediate desire to compare the music they made in class with their favorite pop star icons.  Since I have retired, that perspective has redoubled.  When you want to learn to juggle, you can go online and learn the basics.  However, you will also run across videos of jugglers that seem to have a natural talent for juggling 5 disparate objects, while balancing on a unicycle, blindfolded.  The gap between what you might accomplish in 30 minutes of practice and that kind of talent may cause a deflating ego effect.  This is the corrosive effect of comparison.

Want To Write?  Write!

Sounds grim I know, but I have a solution for you in your daily writing habits.  I often refer to this perspective as looking through the telescope backwards.  Instead of internalizing the vastness of the job at hand, look at it from the perspective of small progression.  If you’re feeling like that little girl on the beach, raise your shoulders and begin building your castle.  Take cues from the mother and child you observed; “Ah, I never thought of using sticks that way!  I’m going to try that too.”  Imagine yourself going to them and introducing yourself.  Ask if you might help out with their creation.  In other words, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Remember that when you compare your own work to work done by veterans, you want to glean clues as to why their work is successful.  Word choices, grammar, descriptive language, POV.  Then just select one tool or media that you observe in their work, and introduce (play with) that one idea on a page.

That’s how your own writing will improve.  That’s how the veterans learned.

Write every day without wallowing in comparisons.  Remember, just because you have all the sand in the world at your disposal, it doesn’t mean you have to use it all at once.  ~TH~

Are You Really DIY?

Are you really Doing It Yourself?  When I think of a Do It Yourself (DIY) project, I often think of the phrase “Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps“.  Get the job done.  In a writing group, think of yourself as the project.

This should be the most important project that you’re working on.

You need to write in your journal every day.  Often, folks say, “I don’t know what to write.”  A good way to begin is to set short-term, realistic goals and deadlines.  Here’s one method.

Right now, take 20-30 minutes and consider what kind of writing interests you lately.  Poetry?  Short fiction?  Personal essay?  No matter what it is, write that form at the top of a page in your journal, then number the left margin, 1 to 7.  On each numbered line write a short, achievable goal such as, “Write 100+ words about my job”, or “Write a 2 stanza poem that contains rhymes”.  Be sure to write a goal (a prompt) on each line, even if it’s a simple baby step.  You can write the same goal for each day, or mix it up if you like.  IMPORTANT: be sure that each goal is achievable.  After all, if you’re not writing, you’ll never get any writing done; some is better than none!

Start your day with that goal.  Get up 15 minutes early and crank it out.  It won’t be perfect, but it will be writing.

Put a check mark on your list, then go on with the rest of your day.  That check mark will have you walking on air!  Next day, do that same thing, first thing in the morning.

After just one week, you will have filled 7 pages with writing.  Then, the next time someone asks what you’ve been doing lately, you can say, “I’m writing!”.  Stay motivated and get your DIY writing project off the ground.  Now is the time.  ~TH~