writing

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05 Jul: How to Write Like a Kid Again

There is a flotilla of actual research that suggests kids already think like poets. They notice imagery, think in metaphors, and act as though everything is alive and has human consciousness, from their real pet frog to their stuffed giraffe. All I had to do was introduce a concept like “personification” or “metaphor” and let them dash away with their pens and paper into the happy land of kid speak. They would come back with Pulitzer Prize winning lines like, “Earth, do you enjoy spinning?” or, “I heard a caterpillar’s heart breaking when it turned into a butterfly.” When writing poems about science, one little girl wrote, “Pluto is not a planet. It is a tear the first astronaut cried when he saw our world spinning alone in space.”

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22 Jun: Set Your Words Free: How to Shake Off a Writing Rut

The thing about changing your writing, unlike changing your life, is that it is much easier. You don’t have to max out your credit cards on a trip to Italy, find a guru in India, or go to Bali to fall head over heels. (#EatPrayLove.) All you have to do is change your words. Words are the building blocks of poems, and hence, the building blocks of your ideas; your style; your substance. If you change the words, and the way you use them, you change everything – and that means both inside and out.

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17 May: The Myth that Writers Are Special

There is a myth about writing – all art in fact – that it takes a special personality to do it. A special visionary with a special set of skills, handed down by God at birth, to distinguish the true artist from all other beasts of burden working in the field. The artist has a special sensitivity, a gift for seeing, an affinity for language that puts him or her in a category above other people, the way saints are elevated in the Catholic Church after curing the blind or allowing kings to pull their body apart on a rack.

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03 May: Write Bad Poetry and Keep Digging!

I think a lot of folks suffer under the illusion that you have to be born with a special talent, or else you’re sunk. The truth is, like most things, writing can in fact be learned. Like heart-surgery, or using Excel, or making a good quiche Lorraine, writing is a skill. The question is not, “Am I good at this?” but, “Do I like doing it?” Do I like writing, or reading other good writers, or sitting at a desk, staring out a window, contemplating the sound of the rain? If so, then keep doing it, even if you’re not good.