Tag Archives: Writing Advice

Welcome to the Information Age

Snip20150702_40The internet is the most wonderful thing that has happened for college students in many decades as it allows us to have an infinite amount of information at our fingertips.  Gone are the days of debate about who won the 1998 World Series (New York Yankees) or who won the Best Actress in 2005 (Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby).  Anything we want to know is only a moment away.  Seems great right?

The unfortunate side of the information age is the quality of information our students use in their research.  High school and college students today are so used to using Google and Wikipedia in their personal lives that they transfer that into their studies.  And while technology literacy is a wonderful attribute for them, understanding the pros and cons of the internet when writing and researching is essential to success.

In this blog piece, I’ve decided to take a look at the positive and negative aspects of the internet when it comes to certain aspects of the writing process.  Hopefully, this will make students aware of some of these pitfalls before doing their next paper. Continue reading

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Slam Poets: Tell Us How To Throw Down!

Maria James-Thiaw asked the local slam community advice on how to throw down at a slam contest.  This is what they told us!


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“Practice. Some practice is better than none.”–Marilyn Kallet

“Winning the slam will never help you win yourself. Win who you are, your purpose.That will always remain in your hands.  So always carry your purpose to the stage with you. ” –Slangston Hughes


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“Romance the mic and believe that no one else can do that better than you! If you focus on your own performance, there will be no room for comparing yourself to anyone else (which is a BIG wagging, shake-a-finger NO NO!).” –Quill Reed

“…Just like entering the hundred yard dash or a boxing match, you go in to win, connect and show them what you’re really made of figuratively.”–Femi Drifish


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“Don’t be self-conscious about your performance — don’t even think about it as a performance, but as you speaking your heart to friends. Everyone supports one another in these. Go!”–Michael Lear-Olimpi

“Slam because you have a story to tell. A poem you have to share. An experience someone else might need to hear on any given Tuesday.” —Dawn Saylor


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…and of course, don’t forget to sign up for the 3rd Annual Poetry Slam.  Get the details here.

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Everyday I’m Scribblin’

I was recently reminded of a harsh reality about writing: the only way to write, unfortunately, is to write. An obvious, simple, yet (for me, anyway) an f-ing elusive truth, and always easier said than done.

At the end of May, I experienced a huge setback with my PhD dissertation (a major research project estimated to run 200+ pages), which forced me to draft a lot of material in a short amount of time–40,000 words in four weeks! And I’m proud to report that I met that goal–and then some.

Snip20150709_53Now, what I ended up with wasn’t highly polished, carefully edited prose. Far from it. But I did get exactly what I needed: a finished first draft, always the hardest part of the writing process for me, which I now can spend a few weeks revising before submitting to my dissertation committee at Duquesne University at the end of July.

How did I achieve this Sisyphusean feat–a trip to my local crossroads at midnight? Nope–no Satanic bargains for me, thank you very much. I just stopped thinking (ie judging myself negatively) and started writing. I broke the project into small, daily writing goals: 1600 words a day, every day–no matter how tired, or how frustrated, or how bored, or how anxious I was. Most professional writers I know–and all of the “writers on writing” books I’ve read–say the same thing: daily, regimented writing routines are how writing happens. Continue reading

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The Professional Writer: Bridging the Gap between Page and Stage with Carla Christopher

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Central Pennsylvania’s arts scene is alive and thriving because it is held up by pillars like professional writer, Carla Christopher, York city’s Arts & Culture Liaison and host of Culture & Main. Carla is no stranger to Central Penn College. When she was Poet Laureate of York, PA she performed here in celebration of “Poem in Your Pocket Day, 2013.” Her small press, Poem Sugar, has published the works of some of our faculty and staff and she even gave our Corporate Communications students a taste of real world broadcasting by inviting them to a taping of her TV Show, Culture and Main. One of those students, Amanda Kloehr, read her poetry on the show.

This artistic entrepreneur is the glue that keeps Central PA’s cultural scene together. That is no easy task, especially when there are conflicts even within specific artistic genres. Take poetry for example, where traditional “page” poets and stage performers fight for domination, each one seeing their style as the only right way to do poetry. Regardless of this ongoing debate, Carla Christopher is a bridge between the two.

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Writer’s Profile: Bronwen Carlyle Talks About Season of Shadow

unnamedOur writer’s profile focuses on Bronwen Carlyle whose new book, Season of Shadow (The Equinox Chronicles Book 1), was recently published through the Amazon Kindle store.  Carlyle was born in Augusta and grew up in North Georgia. As a young girl, she spent time with the creatures, gods, warriors, and sages found in the pages of Irish mythology and fairy tales, and has been weaving stories ever since. She currently lives near Pittsburgh, where you can find her dreaming up worlds and writing them down.  You can visit her website at www.bronwencarlyle.com, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter @BronwenCarlyle.


unnamed-1First, tell us about your new project.

It’s a young adult novel that takes place in both Georgia and a fantastical realm connected to our own. It follows the story of sixteen-year-old Everly Cotton, who has grown up in foster care, as she is caught in a battle between light and darkness.

[You can watch a trailer for it here.] Continue reading

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I’m bored! : How Boredom Can Boost Creativity

Want to write like Ginsberg? Take a shower.

Like most writers, I get my best ideas in the shower–one fist full of soap and the opening line to the next great American novel. ‘Shower thoughts’ have become such a cultural phenomenon that you can now buy waterproof writing pads. You can also watch your favorite celebrity, like Nick Offerman [warning: explicit language] or Anna Kendrick [warning: explicit language], talk about their most profound shower thoughts. [You can read more about the benefits of being bored at Bored, Brilliant and… Counterintuitively Interesting: A Reading List by Manoush Zomorodi and even try some of the boredom challenges.]

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But why are you history’s greatest philosopher or the next Mark Twain when you’re in the shower? Recent studies look at the psychology of boredom to understand what your brain is doing while the shower is running. For you creative cleansers, the research suggests that your next novel might just be sitting in the suds.

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How to write a one-sentence story

You have probably heard of short fiction, short stories, and even flash fiction, but the ultimate reading materials for those of us with shorter attention spans is the one-sentence story. Yes, you read that right. A story comprised of a single sentence with all the bells and whistles of its longer relations: introduction, conclusion, plot twist, character development, suspense, and sentiment. Continue reading

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by | June 1, 2015 · 8:00 am

Five Ways to Jump Start A Creative Writing Routine

Sure, you want to write.  You have a great hook or character.  You have your whole first novel mapped out or the next slam-winning poem…the problem is that you have them all in your head.  Be don’t be discouraged.  You’re not alone.

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 Moving from brain to page is no easy task, but with these tips, you help kick start that process.


1. Start a blog: A blog is a great way to get your writing everyday, and you can write as much or as little as you want.  A blog will automatically keep track of the days and times you write, which will help you as you take on more serious writing projects. One word of caution: if you are considering publishing down the road, you should be refrain from posting it on the blog since some publishers will consider it ‘published.’  Check out The Pen’s own post on the subject!

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2. Use a creative writing prompt: Hate staring at a blank page?  Writer’s block giving you the writer’s blues?  There are dozens of website that offer writing prompts to get you inspired.  Some of our favorites are Language-is-a-virus, First Line Generator, Creative Writing Ink, and The One-Minute Writer.

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3. Keep a journal: Sometimes the easiest tool is also the best one.  Journaling can help you keep track not only of your everyday experiences, but can also be a great place to sketch characters, write a plot summary, or record an idea that just won’t let go of you.  Journaling is particularly alluring for you pen and paper types, and it gives you an opportunity to splurge on those fancy fountain pens you’ve been eyeing!

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4. Join a creative writing club: Clubs are an excellent way to get yourself motivated to write and keep you accountable to your writing goals.  You can also get immediate feedback on a particular character, scene, or subplot, which will be invaluable if you decide to take your writing to a publisher.  Clubs meet both in person and online!

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5. Use your tech!: Sometimes, we forget that our most powerful writing tool is the one we have in our hands (laps or palms!).  Use your favorite tech to set writing reminders and to schedule yourself time to write.  You can also use apps to keep you on pace: Mindly, Mind Node, Help Me Write, and Write-or-Die.  There are dozens out there, so find your fix!

Continue reading

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The Professional Writer: James G. Piatt Encourages Emerging Writers to Follow Their Bliss

 

When it girl-writing-starscomes to writing, James G. Piatt sees far more than the bottom line. He sees an opportunity to do something that gives him joy. That, for him is the most important thing. “You must decide on what your goals are. If it is to make money, you must do those things which will make money. You will have to write for the prevailing audience, do heavy personal marketing, travel, make speeches, make business contacts, do loads of book signings, etc. etc.” says Piatt, a retired teacher and artist with numerous publishing credits under his belt. “ If it is to release the creative spirit in your soul, then create and be happy with the outcome.”

“Chase your dreams. Do what makes you feel worthwhile and satisfied. Life is short; Make the most of it; Spend your time doing those things that make you happy.” ~ James G. Piatt, author

By focusing on his passion for writing, James has found an audience that loves his creative work. Along with two poetry collections, thirty four of his short stories have been published.  His method is to write and revise, then send his polished pieces out to publishers. His poems and stories have been published in over 100 magazines, anthologies, and books. He says if you are doing it to make money, emulate the celebrity writer and don’t worry about literary value. But if you want a lasting voice, hone your craft and follow your heart. Be persistent and work hard, and success will come to you.  To read James G. Piatt’s creative work, see the poetry below and check out his poetic collections, here.

Inequality

I sense the heartbreaking weeping of souls
hungering for equality mirrored in their lifeless
reflections in a fading blood colored moon: The
unfortunate find hope is only a thin pallid wash
attempting, without success, to cover their
frozen moments of hopelessness.

I reflect sadly on the fervent prayers of golden-
haired angels playing poignant songs on silver
bells, hovering like burning moths over the flame
of the world’s calloused indifference… and sob:

Trying to forget the inequities, I guzzle peach
Margaritas in a sleazy bar where sad women
swing their bodies like gaudy birds. My mind
lacking reason, like the money drunk elite, feigns
to comprehend the misery of splintered
nightmares in rundown ghettos, where cheap
wine is served and hotdogs are grilled over
coals of need in a rusted garbage can, while the
rich sailing on a yacht, slurp mimosas, eat $400
a tin caviar and gobble down fresh Dolphin meat
from Madagascar.

 

Weep No More Robin Williams

Weep not Robin…
For peace comes on summer’s wings,
As bards write poems to overcome
Your sadness, they will wipe away
Tragic tears from your lonesome being,
Awaken in your heart a sudden gladness:

Weep not Robin…
Eirene’s warm embrace
Will take you to higher and
Higher splendors of peace,
Expunging the dim world of your Darkened
rhyme under the bountiful Bouquet of a rose
covered arbor:

Weep not Robin…
Eleos will break the spell of your Darkened
night, and enclose in your Heart a gleaming halo
at dawn, she will Bring into your being a blissful
delight, And into your soul, she will create a
Rebirth, and a sweet song.

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Poets: Don’t Fear The Traditional

by Thomas Davis, Jr.

We celebrate contemporary poetry—rightfully so. We delight in the random rhythms and streams of consciousness, the ebbs and flows of which reflect the meandering nature of our post-modern minds. This freedom from form is inspiring and enlivening, and a new generation of poets capable of pushing the genre to new heights is never far beneath the ever-expanding horizon. But what about tradition? Much like the speaker in Frost’s “Mending Wall” desires to know “what [he] was walling in or walling out,” we should pause to consider the nature of the poetic forms from which we now seek to distinguish ourselves. Continue reading

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