Wednesday, August 5, 2020

IWSG: Unplanned Writing Forms and Keep Writing With Fey


OPTIONAL QUESTION: "Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don't write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be."
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

Short answer: Yes.

In tenth grade, I wanted to "Be An Author!" (say this in dramatic tones with sweeping arm gestures). 

My tenth grade English teacher wanted us to write poetry. I didn't want to write poetry. I told her I wanted to write fiction, and only fiction. She encouraged me to try poetry. She thought I might like it. I did. It shocked me. I hid my poems from everyone except the teacher, who encouraged me, because I was embarrassed that I liked poetry. Poetry?! Me?! 

I kept writing it secretly. In college, I noticed poetry in the newspaper. The poetry there didn't look much better than mine. In fact, I thought maybe, just maybe, mine was good enough, so I sent some into the college newspaper and waited for a response. They promised a phone call. I didn't get one.

No, they didn't call me like they promised. They just published everything I sent them, so I found out after my first poem was in print when a roommate said to me, "How could you write something like that? I don't know if I can talk to you again."
Wait, what?

My first poem was published and it made Tsunami-level waves in my social life. Some people hated it with a passion and refused to speak to me. I literally lost 20+ college friends/acquaintances. Some people loved it and wanted me to sign their newspapers. Some people sought me out quietly to talk to me about it. I gained a few new friends. :) 

BTW - I have only one copy of that first published poem, and I haven't shared it with anyone in years. One of the people who really "got it" was my dad so he is the reason I have a copy. He actually took it to work with him and showed it around to everyone (and lost a few of his friends and gained different ones - it's really a kick-in-the-gut poem). 

I still wanted to be a - now say this like a blockbuster movie title - "FICTION NOVELIST" But, poetry had worked its way under my skin. I had time for poetry. I could spend fifteen minutes on a poem and feel like I had made progress. When I spent fifteen minutes at fiction, I felt like I could barely get in a rough page that needed hours of work.

I don't like to call myself a poet. I feel like people expect "Great Things" and "Romantic Things" and "Perfect Word Choices" instead of words like "things" from poets. I don't rhyme particularly well. I struggle with iambic pentameter and spondee. I have to revitalize my vocabulary with glimpses at the Thesaurus. But, I still write poetry. The first time I was ever paid as a writer was for a short story, but the next five payments came from poems. Poems don't earn a lot of money, but getting paid for them feels a little extra special since most places don't pay for them at all.

And, I have a tendency to write poetry that isn't kind, sweet, beautiful, or "lovey." I have a tendency to write poetry about the stuff that hurts the most, which brings me to the next topic - an entry for the Keep Writing with Fey Blog Hop.


For the blog hop: Share your story about writer's block, depression, and/or burnout and how you overcame it or what you are currently doing to heal.

I think you can imagine from the above bit that I have definitely struggled with my writing. I love writing. I struggle with writing. I have felt like I have failed at writing at least a hundred times, if not a hundred thousand times. I have been burned out. I have been depressed. I have been so terrified of writing badly that I couldn't seem to get anything on a page. And yet, I really love to write. I do. 

So, how do I overcome the bad days (weeks, months, years)? I give myself permission to not write for whatever project I "should" be working on for the day/week/month/year. This may throw me off course, but then, if I'm really in a bad way due to health issues or any other reason, I'm already drifting at sea with no wind in my sails.

I keep writing by seeking out the joy of words - by listening to poetry I like and writing it down - not plagiarizing, but quoting it in my journal. I write down scripture verses and quotes I like. I've written down lists of words I like to taste when I speak (I used to hate speaking, so these lists used to be small). Have you ever felt the way a word sounds in your mouth like a taste of something delicious? Okay, maybe that's just really odd, but I love words that much. I like to sing, so I write down song lyrics that I know and ones I make up. I write to prompts. I write Nail Polish Stories - which I find unique in the idea of writing a nail polish color as the title of a story that's only 25 words in length. I write snatches of dialogue and phrases I like. I take notes on sermons and books. I write down lists for the day.

When I'm not writing, I walk, I sing, I dance, I ride my bike, I read, I drink tea, I sit with my dog and cat on our back deck in the sunshine or the rain or even snow and breathe in fresh air. I pray. I hope. I ask friends to go walking with me. I ask people to tell me their stories. 

I even had a project stem from asking people for their stories - Walking with Jesus: Stories from One Hope Church.

And, I let myself write angry/sad poetry or prose poetry, if that's what I really need to do. Recent Examples: Tacks Between Us and Sticks and Stones.

I have found through the process I go through, which means this may just be me, that when I can't write, I am often blocking myself. I'm holding something back. That something may not fit within my current WIP, so I need to go release it somewhere - in my journal, a poem, a string of words. Once I get it off my chest and rediscover my love of words and story, I can write again.

If you are depressed, please seek help. It makes a difference to talk to a professional counselor and/or a Pastor who can help you. I really, really means this. I have had friends and family members who have attempted or committed suicide. I have experienced depression due to medical and emotional struggles, but I sought help when I needed it. I think help is incredibly important. There are counselors who can help without high costs associated with them. Seek them out. Ask a Pastor for a referral. If you are really down, get the help you need now, please.

If you are struggling with writing blues or burnout, I recommend Chrys Fey's book. It has some great tips in it!

When Chrys Fey shared her story about depression and burnout, it struck a chord with other writers. That put into perspective for her how desperate writers are to hear they aren’t alone. Many creative types experience these challenges, battling to recover. Let Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer's Block, Depression, and Burnout guide you through:

        Writer's block
        Writer's burnout
        What a writer doesn’t need to succeed
        Finding creativity boosts

With these sparks, you can begin your journey of rediscovering your creativity and get back to what you love - writing.


Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo

Again, Chrys Frey's book is great, but if you need help for depression, please find it for the sake of all who love you (and someone does). I can't stress this enough, especially this year. 2020 has been  a bit rough on all of us.

What about you? Have you written a genre or form you didn't expect? Have you struggled with burnout?


  1. Tasting words? Never heard it called that.
    Now I really want to read that poem of yours!

  2. Its so strange that I have started writing poetry now!

  3. You know you've created a powerful poem when it has that kind of impact! I tend to write poetry when my heart hurts. It's a good release.
    Words I like the taste of: spelunker, pididdle-hopper (probably not a real world, but I've always used it) and whirlygig :)

  4. Who knew one poem could be so impactful. You may have lost friends, but I bet those you gained were more meaningful.

  5. Thank you so much for participating in my blog hop!

    Seeking out the joy in words...I like that. :)

    I definitely agree that anyone who has or believes they may be suffering from depression should seek help (something I state in my book). At the back of my book, I also list resources for depression/suicide. I spoke to my doctor about my depression and tried medication. She also recommended that I talk to someone. In the end, I didn't (although I seriously considered it and still do), but not everyone is the same. And depression is not something to take lightly. My tips to help defeat depression can assist someone while they seek help through therapy, etc. :)

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  6. Sometimes we just need a nudge to get us to try something. Glad you had such an encouraging teacher. Congrats again to Chrys on her new book.

  7. That's great that you discovered you love writing poetry. And that's great advice to give yourself permission not to write when you need that.

  8. You do realize we all want to read that poem now because it's mindboggling that people would end their friendship with you over it?

  9. Yes, I want to know what's in a poem that could end friendships!

    I did write some poetry in my senior year of high school after several assignments. I don't think they would have rocked anyone's world, but I enjoyed doing it at the time. Times of pain do tend to lend themselves to poetry, I think.

  10. Alex - sorry, I don't share that one.

    Rachna - I think it's amazing how life sends us new ways to write at the right times.

    Jemi - Spelunker and whirligig are fun to say!

    Diane - that is so true!

    Chrys - you're welcome!

    C. Lee - Thanks!

    Natalie - sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to be free.

    Patricia - it is, but I just don't feel brave enough. I keep that poem locked up these days, and my last name was different then, so there's no searching for it. :)

  11. I was never much good with poetry. I spent too much time trying to make the words rhyme.

    Hmmm... The reaction to your poem makes me wonder what you wrote.

  12. I just love those annoying teachers that made us get out of our box. I had a number of those as well! "What do you mean I should read something other than science fiction?" -gasp-

  13. I used to write poems when I was younger. They were the kind that rhyme, which I like, but seem to be out of fashion. I only shared them with a few people. I keep them in a notebook and go back and re-read them every once in a while. I'm glad you tried writing poetry and discovered a new outlet. You never know what you'll end up enjoying until you try it.

  14. Thank you T-Irene for this very interesting and sincere post. Thank you for sharing your beginnings and experience with writing. I agree with you, words taste scrumptious. Sometimes I’ll prefer a word for its taste rather than its meaning... which is sometimes misleading for the reader. The “friends” who shunned you because of your poetry were obviously not friends, they just didn’t know you or care about who you really are, always let them go, not worth it. Thank you for the holler on Chrys’ book. Depression and burn out are serious illnesses which need to be treated, waddled through and above all spoken about, I agree. Writing has always kept me sane, the bile and black pour out and stop corroding the mind, nobody needs to read it.
    Wishing you a Happy IWSG day and August writing.

  15. It's funny how we resist things! I miss writing poetry, I haven't done it for a few years!

  16. Hi Tyrean - a really well told explanation about how you got into poetry ... and I admire you for not sharing. However it really impacted ... funny how teachers know what we should be doing, yet we, when students, don't think that way.

    Chrys' books look to be so helpful - she writes really clearly.

    Good luck to you - as you've lots to offer too ... lots of opportunities now for as Susan B says 'bile and black' outpourings ... take care - Hilary

  17. I can't believe you built up that poem and then didn't share it. You cannot imagine some of the horrific things I'm picturing in it (your DAD lost friends over it???), so it cannot possible be as bad as I'm imagining. ;-) I do have a pretty sick imagination, though.

  18. When I write poetry, I don't follow rules--it's a form of expression where words paint emotions! I'm sorry to hear that you lost many friends over that! When you follow your heart, you will lose some and gain some but those you gain will be right!

    I'd love to know what your poetry was about that pushed all those people away. Would you dare share with us a snippet? ;P

  19. What an intriguing story about your first published poem. Thanks for sharing your feelings on how to keep writing during these times.

  20. I have had a rocky road with poetry throughout the years, so I really appreciate you sharing your process of embracing poetry. Most of the time, I just don't get it and when I try to write it, it's bad and frustrating. But sometimes, the poem writes itself- I have no say in it- and it's really good.
    I can't imagine writing something that would cost me friends, but since I have so few, I assume they'd understand if I wrote something upsetting. I guess I won't know until or if it happens.
    I like that you figured out how to release or let go of somethings so that you can get back to writing. I also like that you've asked others to share their stories with you. Thanks for sharing this post.

  21. Tyrean... I think it's great that you write poetry. It is a wonderful way to express yourself as a writer and nothing to KEEP SECRET!

    I enjoyed reading your story and how impactful that poem was in your life. I wish I had listened to my college professor when I wrote an essay about Twentieth Century Women's Fiction. She pulled me aside after class and expressed her interest in having it published. Like a fool, I said no because back then I was only interested in my art. Who knew decades later I became a writer. At nineteen I could have been traditionally published and now in my 50's I still haven't... Life. LOL


Thanks for taking time to share your awesomeness!