A Strategy for Creating Insight in a Personal Essay

On this September 11, two years after the tragedy at the World Trade Centers in NY, many of us who write believe more whole heartedly than ever that getting our words on the page makes a difference in our lives and in the lives of those who read our words. The World Trade Centers tragedy … Continue reading

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Subscriber Response to Instructional Exercises

“Poetry is a form of necessary speech,” Edward Hirsch writes in How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, and “poems strike something deeper than thought itself…experience that takes us to the very heart of being.” Over the months, subscribers have sent results from exercises in Writing It Real, exercises meant to … Continue reading

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A Prompt for Finding Essay Topic Ideas

At Yourdictionary.com, linguists maintain a page about word definitions and histories. I signed up on the web to have these words and stories about their usage emailed to me each day. Some of the words are ones that I’ve never heard or even read. Others are words I use everyday and never think about.  After … Continue reading

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Writing a Father’s Day Poem

When I was writing monthly poetry writing columns for Writer’s Digest Magazine, I created strategies for writing poetry that utilized as a jumping off place the topical thoughts our culture promotes each month.  I wanted to help those who wanted to write poetry liberate themselves from the influence of the advertising buzz and Hallmark card … Continue reading

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Listening for A Poem’s Discovery

If March comes in like a lion, they say, it’ll go out like a lamb and vise versa.  I’d like to combine this notion with an idea that Keats termed “negative capability.” He said that a good poem holds within it one thing as well as its opposite.  For example, when we eulogize someone’s death, … Continue reading

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Using Quotes to Spur Your Writing

I like to keep quotes in an 8 by 5 inch blue-cloth covered three-ring binder. I write down or tear out quotes that strike my fancy.  They come from books and magazines, affirmations I wish to repeat to myself, fortunes from cookies, remarks during a lecture, writings in a program, overheard dialog or something a … Continue reading

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Learning Words by Heart

A few years ago, I invented a way of coming to writing during times when I felt overwhelmed by my need to write, yet stuck in my ability to get anything of value on the page.  The exercise I invented ultimately helped me to create vignettes, essays, and poems from life experience when I had … Continue reading

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