Lyrical sorcery:: 6 tips for poetic writing

lyrical sorcery 6 tips for poetic writing

These tips were specif­i­cally cre­ated with poetry or lyri­cal essays in mind, but there’s no doubt they can help with any of your writ­ing projects!

+ Start with an image:: an object, a scene, a mem­ory, an emo­tion, a place, a moment, a char­ac­ter. Be very detailed in the descrip­tion. Bonus:: To prac­tice devel­op­ing a descrip­tive mind­set, start a habit of describ­ing the food you eat in absurd detail.

+ Sub­scribe to Daily Writ­ing Tips. Pay par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to the arti­cles on word ori­gins and mean­ings. Learn­ing the ori­gins & pre­cise mean­ings of words both expands your vocab­u­lary and allows you to care­fully select what words are best suited your purpose.

+ Cre­ate a weekly archive (list) of 40 words you like.

+ Study the lives of poets. Learn their influ­ences, their method­ol­ogy, how their lives informed their works. This is a very impor­tant les­son I’ve learned in tak­ing poetry last semes­ter. I’ve never been so inspired to write as when I was study­ing the lives of Sylvia Plath & T.S. Eliot.

+ Cre­ate a per­sonal list of mythology/ sym­bols. They could be any­thing: his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences, objects, ideas, peo­ple, mythol­ogy, etc. The more mean­ing they have for you, the bet­ter they’ll work. These are good images to start with. For inspi­ra­tion read The Woman’s Dic­tio­nary of Sym­bols & Sacred Objects.

+ Mine your dreams for poetic symbols.

+ Just start writ­ing & tweak it later. You never come to the page with a mas­ter­piece ready to be writ­ten — and the idea of per­fec­tion can block you from actu­ally doing any­thing. Instead, just vomit words up & later prune, prune, prune. It’s way eas­ier to make some­thing that already exists sound ter­rific, than it is to just spit beauty out.

+ Read The Ele­ments of Style.

What are some of your tips for poetic sor­cery?
photo credit: mariko2 via pho­topin cc

Wednesday writing prompts 2.19.14

wwp 21914

+ Write a love let­ter to one of your flaws you hate the most.

+ You’re a supervil­lain. A really fright­en­ing, pow­er­ful, meaaaaaan son-of-a-bitch. Write a char­ac­ter analy­sis of this vil­lain­ous self, then write a char­ac­ter analy­sis of your heroic arch-nemesis. Finally, write a short story about a con­fronta­tion between the two.

+ This was a writ­ing assign­ment from my first day of poetry class:: take one of these frag­ments (or a sen­tence of one of the larger ones) from Sap­pho & write an entire poem using one (or more) of them.

+ Write a 5 page story using some of these weird words (at least 4!):: Apozem, xenoglossy, blovi­ate, malarkey, astrobolism, impig­no­rate, lam­pro­phoney, jen­tac­u­lar, tit­tynope, ratoon, xertz.

What if love were a per­son? Write a char­ac­ter analysis.

+ You’ve stum­bled into a por­tal into a par­al­lel world where you encounter an alter­nate ver­sion of your­self. There are so many ways that this self could be dif­fer­ent –a totally unfa­mil­iar ver­sion of your­self, or just a few minor changes (her hair is blonde instead of brunette, she has a sis­ter that was never born in this world, she is an accountant-acrobat, what­ever). Write a page of dia­logue between the two selves.

+ Write a man­i­festo for the next year of your life. 

+ Per­son­ify an abstraction. 

Can’t get enough prompts? Click HERE

Life of ladybugs:: a winter update post

winter updates!

After spend­ing months devel­op­ing a sched­ule of reg­u­lar post­ing, my heart decided it couldn’t go on, and it was time to take a break. So break i took.

This win­ter has been an incred­i­bly strange time in my life. My heart was bro­ken for a while, but then I got over it & started really liv­ing my life. Oh you guys! I’ve had so many adven­tures! I’ve been to the zoo, tried a ton of new restaurants/bars/foods/cocktails, made new friends, seen my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE BAND, started the spring semes­ter (which is writ­ing inten­sive! yeesh). I just haven’t been post­ing. For a while all the ideas I had got sucked out of me, like a wiz­ard in a time warp. & then all my good habits just dis­solved & here I am, left attempt­ing to rebuild myself. It’s time to get back to what i love the most:: writ­ing for you.

So before I start post­ing mag­i­cal, philo­soph­i­cal things, I’ll fill you in with all that’s been danc­ing around in my life.

+ Adven­tures:: I’ve tried:: quinoa lin­guine, herba­ceous cock­tails (moscow mules! gin­ger + mint = heaven!), a lamb ham­burger, apple horse­rad­ish cole slaw cov­ered hot dogs; I’ve explored a ton of “hip” Hous­ton estab­lish­ments, I’ve went to a cou­ple of shows, includ­ing Queens of the Stone Age who were the last band left on my bucket list. My 27th birth­day was Jan­u­ary 31st, which led to tequila and danc­ing at Bar­barella, an awe­somely ridicu­lous place. I got new speak­ers & a lovely mus­tard purse for my birth­day, which makes this girl’s heart go BOOM BOOM BOOM.

+ School:: This semes­ter I’m tak­ing cre­ative writ­ing, stud­ies in fic­tion, the mean­ing of life (which is fuck­ing amaz­ing!) & texas gov­ern­ment (which is the oppo­site of fuck­ing amaz­ing). It’s 3 classes of just writ­ing writ­ing writ­ing, which is exactly what I want, since my pri­mary aim in re-attending col­lege is to develop my writ­ing, but boy am I drained on time! It’s also the first time I’ve ever received much cri­tique on my fic­tion. I was really proud of both writ­ing a son­net (first time!) & shar­ing my son­net (first time!). I have sev­eral essays due in the next week (a Dos­to­evsky & Sartre one, a pro­fes­sion of faith !!!?, etc) and a test, I def­i­nitely feel full.

+ Site:: Um… so I’ve done very lit­tle as far as Cos­mic Out­law goes, which is a huge bum­mer. Some­times I’ll click on my dash­board & just pout. When my heart got bro­ken dur­ing finals week, I just didn’t gather the energy to pull myself back up, & then life got bet­ter but I still failed here. I love writ­ing, I love my web­site, & I love you guys, so we’re get­ting back on track, promises!

I’ll see you Wednes­day for some super juicy writ­ing prompts!

Wednesday writing prompts 1.22.14


+ What is your 10 word plan for the rest of the year? 

+ Write a 2200 word story (about any­thing!). Sleep on it for a day. Read over it & cut out 1000 words.

+ Write an essay about the con­cept of freshness.

+ Write a really detailed char­ac­ter descrip­tion of your ideal self & then write a set of action­able goals to get there.

+ The Man in the High Cas­tle is a (really excel­lent) sci-fi novel, an alter­na­tive his­tory where the US & Rus­sia lost WW2 to Ger­many & Japan (but there are par­al­lel worlds where…they didn’t, it’s a really crazy read!). Take any event in his­tory & write an alter­na­tive his­tory as if it didn’t hap­pen (or if you pick some­thing like the cold war, as if they did phys­i­cally go to war — as if bombs were dropped, etc).

+ This is a prompt I found in my text­book for cre­ative writ­ing, “Write this poem: The first line con­sists of an abstrac­tion, plus a verb, plus a place. The sec­ond line describes attire. The third line sum­ma­rizes an action. Let it flow, don’t worry too much about mak­ing sense”.

+ Brain­storm ways in which you could unstick your­self

+ Write a poem that describes the essence of movement.

Best of 2013


What an excit­ing year it’s been!

These are some of my favorite or most pop­u­lar posts from this year. I hope you enjoy & I wish you a faaaab­u­lous 2014!

Mat­ter isn’t solid, but mostly empty space, empty space doesn’t really con­tain noth­ing; par­ti­cles are both par­ti­cles & waves& can affect other par­ti­cles with­out being at all near them. Every time we think we’ve fig­ured it all out, things get deeper & stranger. Real­ity is a mys­tery. There could be mul­ti­ple uni­verses, or the uni­verse could be one big super organ­ism; we could be liv­ing in an extremely com­pli­cated soft­ware pro­gram or all be a phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion of math­e­mat­i­cal for­mu­las! …
26 things I’ve learned in 26 years 

“Evo­lu­tion is smarter than you are.’ If I had a law of biol­ogy, it would be: ‘Evolve solu­tions; when you find a good one don’t stop.’”–David Eagle­man
Incog­nito & prac­ti­cal evolution 

Cig­a­rette smok­ing is a habit. Quit­ting has basi­cally been like relearn­ing how to live. I’d eat-I’d have a cig, I’d have my cof­fee & have my cig, when I’d take out the trash-it would be time for a cig­a­rette. I’m not much of a drinker-but I know that it’s the same for those who smoke while they drink. It was hard for me to go out & social­ize with my smok­ing friends while quit­ting.
On quit­ting smoking 

 If you don’t have a very strong ground of dis­ci­pline then you’re more likely to deplete your­self & make not so good deci­sions in all of your life. For instance, when you use all of your willpower to grow a strong busi­ness– you’re actu­ally more likely to binge eat sweets & not exer­cise — even if your health was still a goal.
Dis­ci­pline strength­ens though good habits– at first it will take a lot of dis­ci­pline to do even sim­ple tasks, but even­tu­ally like an ath­letes bicep– it grows as you work it out.
46 sure­fire ways to work­out your willpower 

collage of 2013

The inter­net is a micro­cosm of the uni­verse– a per­fect exam­ple of the law of attrac­tion at work.
17 ways I make magic hap­pen:: web­sites, the inter­net, & tech­nol­ogy edition

Oh golly, Pin­ter­est is the queen of enhanc­ing my web­site. I have a secret board ded­i­cated to Cos­mi­cOut­law where I pin all the images I asso­ciate with my mes­sage, col­ors & styles, brand­ing ideas, redesign ideas, etc.
How I use Pin­ter­est to change my life

“If you stuff your­self full of poems, essays, plays, sto­ries, nov­els, films, comic strips, mag­a­zines, music, you auto­mat­i­cally explode every morn­ing like Old Faith­ful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of burst­ing. I wake early and hear my morn­ing voices leap­ing around in my head like jump­ing beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape.” — Ray Brad­bury
Best of Writ­ing Advice 

It’s impor­tant to keep in mind that when we feel like we’ve been dealt a crap hand –it’s just a neg­a­tive con­tainer — wait­ing to hold the pos­i­tive.
On emp­ty­ing the well:: prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tions of nothingness

I think you can take notes in any­thing about every­thing. Per­haps more impor­tantly, I think you should take notes.
Notetaking// the ulti­mate out­law guide to the ulti­mate out­law tool:: part 1 styles & ideas 

Note­tak­ing trains your brain to think cre­atively & become recep­tive to ideas. Con­stant writ­ing cre­ates a state of mind where you’re always on the look out for new ideas &lessons to learn.
Notetaking// the ulti­mate out­law guide to the ulti­mate out­law tool:: part 2 why notes & how to make them magical 

Every­day, I sit down to crank out 750 words (go fig­ure) or more. Some­times the entries are mean­ing­less drib­ble, some­times they’re legit­i­mate thoughts & sto­ries. It doesn’t mat­ter as long as I do it daily. 
Notetaking// the ulti­mate out­law guide to the ulti­mate out­law tool:: part 3 tools & inspiration

sun god 2

What I’ve always diag­nosed as lazy turns out was really fear.
On per­fec­tion, fear, and action 

Dear stag­na­tion, despite the fact we get along so well, you know the old cliche ‘if you love some­thing set it free?’ — it’s time to set thee free. I’m sure we’ll see each other again, it’s inevitable, & in some ways I look for­ward to your return. I love that you’re a men­tal pause, a sign that maybe I’m not get­ting enough rest or enough self love. I  love that you bought me that new dress — or rather, I bought that dress to get over you, but I love it all the same. & it’s all ok, I set you free, & I’ll see you around, my dear stag­na­tion. xoxo
80 (free or cheap!) ideas to break free from stagnation

“‘I sup­pose you hate my guts,’ he said. He was shuf­fling his feet, as if prepar­ing to be on his way.
’Oh, no,’ she answered quickly. ‘Not in the least. If not for you, I never would have seen Kyoto, with its bright lights & street musi­cians & shrines & samu­rai & fes­ti­vals & fine kimonos. I’d still be on the farm, feed­ing the chick­ens& serv­ing some dull lum­mox of a hus­band night & day instead of a flock of lively Zen sen­sai. You dis­rupted the pre­dictable pat­tern of my life, &although uncer­tain­ties & changes can be quite uncom­fort­able, a life is only a paper pup­pet show with­out them.”
An open let­ter for my bro­ken heart 

All of the Wednes­day writ­ing prompts! 

Happy Hol­i­days outlaws!

pho­tos: from my phone!

Linkstream:: The Desire Map, musical Stonehenge, gratitude, and home remedies

infinite stairway to heaven

It’s been a month since the last linkstream!

To be quite hon­est, the first half of these links were ready to go 2 weeks ago, but then I under­went a bit of a per­sonal cri­sis, & I couldn’t even fathom climb­ing out of bed much less fin­ish­ing a post.
Things are much, much bet­ter now & I feel so excited to share these links with you! Since it’s been so long, I have plenty of juice for you, so if you can’t make it through all at once, book­mark it & come back when you’re feel­ing dull & full after eat­ing all that hol­i­day ham (on a side note, blech ham!)
As I already took a hia­tus dur­ing the month, I will have 2 reg­u­larly sched­uled posts next week — includ­ing a new begin­nings for the new year themed Wednes­day writ­ing prompts on Christ­mas! Muah!

Alas though, let’s get to the links already! 

Still crav­ing more!? (After all that!) Past linkstreams live here!

photo cour­tesy of Made in Slant.