Saturday, April 9, 2011

Throw a Mouse Into a Poem and Read Billy Collins

I was the guest writer at a workshop for young dult writers, and I thought I would share some of my notes with you.
Read Every Day- books, eBooks, magazines, newspapers. Interact with some sort of text that engages you.

Carry a Journal and pen(s) OR get an app for a smart phone that helps you record ideas. I use Moe’s Notes. No, I didn’t invent it, I bought it because of the name, but have found it useful.

Learn a foreign language- this helps you develop verbal flexibility AND gets you inside a new voice. Our local library has Mango Languages for free access with a valid card.

Read Every Day

Read outside your comfort zone. If you read only romances, try a thriller. Better yet, Poetry.

Rsearch- (This tip was met with a groan.) Research gives you information to flesh out details, and makes your details credible. The poiet Rita Dove once talked about a poem she wrote that invoked a childhood memeory. She researched the weather of the day in question to make sure her description of the day was accurate.
Experience Life- writers don’t just sit at their keyboards all day “creating”. Creation of stories and poems happens as a result of a life lived.

Share your writing with trusted critics. “Criticism” does not mean finding errors. It encompasses praise along with suggestions for improvement.

Read Every Day

Follow your instincts- write in your authentic voice, ye be willing to experiment in order to find your voice.
And finally
Read every day.
I did not tell them to write every day because I would be a hypocrite. I don’t write every day. Life gets in the way, but reading is part of th writing process. It keeps my writing muscles ready.

Happy Writing.


  1. "Read Every Day." Best writing advice EVER!

  2. Great advice!

    I agree that reading every day is a good idea for writers. :)

  3. I am amazed at the number of so called writers who refuse to read. It's like eating without tasting.