Archive for the ‘Pep Talks’ Category:

Week One Done!

Written on February 7th, 2018 by adminno shouts

The first week of our poem a day writing challenge is over! That it you survived it and better yet live to poem the tale! So how did you find it? Easy? Hard? Impossible?

However productive you have been the important thing is to keep going – if you have fallen behind then this is your chance to catch up and if you are streaking ahead – then lets break some records and push new boundaries!

And remember there are plenty of writing exercises both shiny new ones and in the archive, plus inspirational pieces by our guest bloggers.

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Poetry Writing Time 2018!

Written on February 1st, 2018 by adminno shouts

It’s that time of year again when poetry madness takes over the brain! That’s right it’s WoPo Time and that means it’s Write Time!

But where to begin? January is often full of left over Christmas and manic exercise binges and the drudgery of trying to catch up with all the work that slipped during the festive period – however it is no longer January, it is February and that means it’s time to switch on the creative brain.

What better way to do this than to take up a writing challenge?

A poetry writing challenge – such as the one we run here at WoPo every February. The rules are simple – try and write or compose or create something poetic each and every day for February. They can be rhyming, free verse, picture forms and songs, they can be a specific form such as sonnet or limerick or a study of form, serious, funny, political…. and so on.

Some people find a theme and roll with that other have to fish around each day to find some new inspiration and this is all find and good and how it should be! Creativity is a muscle – the more you use it the easier it gets so if you are a beginner or have not written anything for a while do not worry overly if you are off to a slow start, you will get there and actually we all have our own preferred methods of working you might just not have found yours yet! And that is part of what WoPo is about – it is about giving you tools to explore the means to write and create yourself, don’t expect to get something amazing straight away or every time just enjoy finding new ways to get that initial spark going.

To help with this there will be exercises and inspiring ideas going up on this blog through out February, along with guest poets explaining why their writing processes and what drew them to poetry.

There is a Facebook Page and Facebook Group – the group is closed so you will have to request to join but this is so that if you want you can post poems for feedback or just to share, the feedback is from the group in general though and not a critique clinic. Also follow twitter handles @TheMonsterBlogs and @Saffy, not to mention the Pinterest Board!

This means it is time to get writing so sharpen those pencils, refill the ink and top up your charge, grab a beverage of choice and get writing and remember – when in despair that February is a short month even on a leap year!

Now what are you waiting for there is an archive of exercises to get going with!

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Idea Spiral

Written on February 5th, 2017 by adminno shouts

Idea have a habit of breeding more ideas, this can be brilliant and make you really productive or it can de-rail the writing process and you simple have too many ideas and fail to take any to completion.

A way around this is write an idea spiral – draw a light spiral in pencil on a piece of paper and then starting in the middle start writing down your ideas. If there is just one then it can sit there and await for more ideas to turn up but if there are lots then keep writing them down.

Once the spiral is full surround it by four other pieces of paper and analyse the ideas. Are they all different ideas, or connected? Sometimes things seem like lots of ideas but are pretty much just the core different stanzas for the same poem. Group the ideas on one of the four sheets, list them in priority order that you would like to write them in on the other. If they are a large sequence or set then set out all the interconnections and relationships on the third piece of paper. The last piece is for anything else that might occur to you.

If you have no other ideas or current projects then now would be the time to add another four pieces of paper to the corners to make a large square. Pick one of the ideas, preferably the one you listed as top priority, and create word web, what associations does the theme or concept have?

On the second piece, write down bullet points of related concepts.

If you wish it to be a structured poem then on the third piece of paper create a structured outline to shape the finished poem to.

The fourth piece is for you to actually write the poem.

Once that poem is written you can remove the four corner pieces of paper and put fresh ones in place and do the same for the second idea.

If you have lots and lots of ideas it might be a good idea to just create the initial spirals to get the ideas off your chest or out of your brain. Then place these spirals in a folder for looking at later on after you’ve completed what ever the current writing goal is!

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Weekend Time is Rhyme Time

Written on February 4th, 2017 by adminno shouts

Weekends (or when ever your days off are) are valuable, if you are not a full time writer then weekends are often the golden time for writing. Set some solid chunks of time aside, preferable an hour or so. If you have weekend commitments such as kids or clubs then think carefully about exactly where and how the writing will fit in.

It maybe that you get up at your normal week/work day time and write whilst everybody else is having that lay in or it maybe that you have to take a note pad and pen to the gym and scribble notes whilst on the exercise bike or over a lazy coffee whilst the kids are in what ever sports club they are attending.

What ever you time table make sure you have scheduled time to write.

If you happen to be lucky and have lots and lots of writing time then make the weekend different!

If you write free verse then take weekends as time to work on rhyme, start by reading some rhyming poetry, get the rhythms and different rhymes schemes hooked in your brain.

What ever you are doing… WRITE WRITE WRITE!!!!

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The Quiet Compere

Written on November 14th, 2015 by adminone shout

I am Sarah L Dixon, also known as The Quiet Compere.

Why did I make Cheltenham the Finale of the tour?

Four years ago I knew very little about Cheltenham and had never been. Now, even though I have mainly visited in November (for reasons made clear below) I have an image of very white-washed walls and Greek blue sky. It feels like being near the sea to me, even though I am assured, with my sketchy geography, it is about as far away as you can be from the sea when in the UK!

Ok. So four years ago I was coming to Cheltenham for a conference about how Art and Medicine interact (more about that below). I decided I would run a poetry event there, despite knowing no-one in the area and started making friends there through social media. I booked a venue and ten poets and this was the first event I ran outside Manchester (I had no idea this event would be the beginning of a path that led me to 2 12 date tours in 2014 and 2015).

This first event away from home did not come without its challenges. The venue I had booked closed down about three weeks before the date. Determined that this would only be a hurdle and not flatten it I asked around and Adam Horowitz (one of the performers) suggested a space called Meantime Art Space and I contacted Sarah and she was a superstar, spoke with the person whose art was displayed, sorted out some beers for the night and even took me for noodles when I arrived making my first impression on both Cheltenham and my first impression of a noodle bar positive.

I had a buzz that lasted days when the night went well, poets turned up, I met poets I had only seen online and all stuck to time limits and were friendly. Each year I have run an event the night before Medicine Unboxed. I am still searching for the perfect venue. The second year it was in the Frog and Fiddle’s Barn, which I am sure is delightful in summer months. It was a bare brick wall space with high ceilings, a stage and PA system. On a cold November night it felt like being in a barn. Last year I ran a medical-themed poetry night at The Strand. We had a downstairs room and thankfully a mic (as the party in the bar was particularly rowdy and we were divided only by a curtain). This year we have booked the upstairs space at The Strand as I tread my Cheltenham venues learning curve.

Cheltenham was just the beginning

After the Cheltenham gig I decided to takeover Poetry by Heart in Leeds for a month with six poets I knew from workshops, Arvon courses, events and Facebook. The gig was cracking. When my job in the NHS was disappeared and I started doing spreadsheets for my neighbour’s company from home between school runs I saw an opportunity. I was fuelled by an Apples an Snakes masterclass presented by Tony Walsh about “How to promote yourself, your poetry, your events” that I has attended two weeks before the job went awry.

I had disregarded the section about applying for funding at the time. I am not funny. I am not perfomancey. Why would anyone fund my tour? But then, the tour didn’t have to be about me. What did I do at every event I ran. I quietly planned, promoted and hosted these events with attention to detail that was noted and appreciated by performers and venues. Could I take the ten poets x ten minutes format on tour?

I was aware this format had been employed in the North East at Take Ten, but only after it had evolved at my nights as a format that filled a gap in the circuit. Many established nights had 2-4 minute open mic and 15-30 minute guest spots, but not many gave poets the opportunity for something in between. I know I was terrified the first time I had to fill a guest spot with poems (when before all I had 2-3 minutes).

So the format was born and funding application bids submitted

The Quiet Compere Tour has been Arts Council funded and has so far been to 23 cities, putting on shows with 10 local poets reading for 10 minutes each. I like to introduce poets only by name rather than huge bibliography. Let the poems do the talking. We have a mix of established and less well known performers, and it’s the latter that often steal the show!

The Finale of 2015 tour – Friday 20th November 2015 7pm doors. 7:30pm start

Quiet Compere 2015 Cheltenham

Finale Thoughts

Events in Birmingham, Worcester and Oxford have all been hugely successful and I would be delighted to see some of the performers and friends from those areas in the audience.

Look out for Kickstarter to part fund 2016 tour very soon

Quiet Compere Advice:

Play. Enjoy. Try different styles. Find other poets you trust. Get feedback. Be honest. Pursue butterflies. Stretch yourself. Try not to over-edit.

How I fell in love with Cheltenham

I worked in NHS admin for 17 years and when I returned from Maternity Leave received a link to a conference called Medicine Unboxed. This is a conference master-minded (he is director and curator) by Samir Guglani, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Gloucester Hospital. The first year I attended Sam engaged in every debate on the same level as the expert panels, or even more strikingly in one-to-ones. I have now attended the past three years (themes Belief, Voice and Frontiers) This year’s theme is Mortality (and as spent over half of NHS life as a Histopathology and/or Post Mortem secretary) this is of particular interest to me. Samir Guglani was a performer at the Oxford event in May and I met Kiran Millwood Hargrave, who is in the Cheltenham line-up through Medicine Unboxed and Cheltenham Poetry Festival.

Medicine Unboxed ticket link here

Half Way Through! Oh No!

Written on February 15th, 2015 by adminno shouts

We are half way through the month! Slightly more in fact as this is February – the shortest of all the months!

Now you may find that you are lagging behind – just not able to focus or find time to write. If this is you then do not panic. Instead find yourself a timer (pssst your phone) and do just ten minutes of writing before bed, or whilst you are waiting for your shower in the morning!

Do not worry about the quality at this point just write solidly for that ten minutes – it maybe one poem it maybe lots of little ones, it may end up being the beginnings of a story or something instead but just keep writing. Even if it comes out as a story remember you can write a shorter condensed narrative poem from it later on (we suggest you keep the story too!).

Those of you who are done and dusted and sitting around going “well that was easy” – GET. OFF. YOUR. BACKSIDES!!!! and start writing. Just keep on – yes you’ve done amazingly well but lets see what you are really made of! Go on double the poem count – I dare you! Remember you have a whole year in which to edit them after February is through!

And yes CRAZY punctuation and capitals is called for at this point in any writing challenge – the craziest bit is yet to come! Now everyone – back to writing!

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Week One – Done!

Written on February 7th, 2015 by adminno shouts

One week into the poem a day writing challenge that is WoPoWriMo!

For those of you who are streaks ahead – fantastic but don’t slacken off now. Remember the story of the Tortoise and the Hare and just keep going! Finished all ready? AMAZING but don’t think you get away with it that easily!

You have two options – now you are warmed up you may find your productivity level remains high, if this is the case then continue making a writing time for yourself and work solidly on the poetry. Write and write – need more ideas of where to get poetry ideas? Never fear we have all the previous years exercises and tutorials on here under the link Exercises.

Some people however do feel they have a certain number of poems in them and once that is reached it is reached (until they re-charge, sometimes they fear they will never recharge but they always do!). If you are all poemed out then use the challenge to start sorting out the poems you already have – start typing up if you have written them in long hand, edit them, send off poems you already have to various places – who knows one of them may get published.

Those of you who haven’t finished! Don’t panic!!!! That is where most people are – just keep writing – if you are behind then keep writing as you can catch up! Even if you’ve not started yet! Come on give it a go – it is not too late :)

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We Shall Begin

Written on January 31st, 2015 by adminno shouts

February is the month in which we here at WoPo run a poetry writing challenge. So for the next month there will be daily posts including writing exercises and guest bloggers and maybe a give away or two.

But why take part?

Sometimes it can be hard to carve yourself out a writing space or time, and sometimes without practice ideas either start to crowd the brain or disappear altogether. Writing challenges in general help you to develop a writing method. If this is your first such challenge then you may need to tweak it slightly to suit but keep with it!

Poem a day writing challenges can be extremely productive. You can follow the exercises posted here or just set yourself a certain amount of time to sit and just write – do not worry overly about the quality of the poem or piece of writing. You may not like what you are writing, think it is cheesy or too dramatic – write it anyway and then put it away for six weeks, maybe even make a box to post your poems in so you can’t go back and look at them.

You may find later on that the work is not as bad as you thought it was and a bit of editing will have it all ship shape and ready to go!

Perhaps you’ll need to merge poems or split them up into two or three separate pieces or just delete 2/3rds of what you have got.

What ever happens you will end up with more poems than you started with :)

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New Year New Writing You

Written on January 1st, 2015 by adminno shouts

It is a new year and that time of resolution making – so why not make a few writing ones?

One of the biggest problems writers tend to face, is making time for writing. Most writers, especially poets, tend to have full time jobs and/or families which take up the majority of their time. Very few get to write full time and even if they are, it is unlikely to be the writing they wont it to be – no instead they find themselves writing blog copy on gardening etc…

So now is the time to assess your life and work out where and how the writing is going to fit in!

One way of doing this is to be militant – I will be writing for 20 minutes a day come what may! Set your self a time and a space, even if that is your morning commute or just before you go to bed. Set a reminder on your phone and if need be, buy a timer. I personally have THE CHICKEN OF NO PROCRASTINATION!

Sign yourself up for a few writing challenges – there are many poem a day challenges and inspiration sites around, many of which we link to :)

Another piece of advice is always to have something you can write on, with you – this could be a note book or a phone, text yourself or scribble on a special notebook – what ever works for you.

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Time To Prepare

Written on March 31st, 2014 by adminno shouts

It is almost time for National Poetry Writing Month, so sharpen your pencils, stretch your fingers and expand your minds!

Writing challenges can be incredibly useful, weather you are just starting out and need something to get you to sit down and actually start the writing or weather you are a seasoned writer who has just slipped of late and find the dreaded PROCRASTINATION or writers block, gnawing away at your lives.

What I find most useful in preparing myself, is making sure I have a space and a time in which to write. That does not mean a lovely neat desk, though it can and that is nice and if you have that set up then go with it. But it can be a seat on the train or your phone by your bed. What ever it is, just make sure that you have identified it and have set it aside.

Of course you maybe be lucky and get struck by inspiration lightning – the more you write and observe the world the more likely this is to happen! This is why it is handy to have some sort of writing device on you, that can be a paper note pad (you can get tiny ones for pockets) or a laptop, tablet or phone, what ever it is make sure you always have it on you for when an idea strikes or you hear that perfect opening line etc…

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