The Completely Awesome Writer’s To-Do List – Free Download

I don’t know about you guys, but I love lists. And spreadsheets. And planning stuff. Anything to semi-legitimately avoid actually writing/editing. Cos that stuff’s HARD!

So, in honour of the impending Plotober, the 31 days that were previously known as October, before the phenomenon that is NaNoWriMo overtook us, I present to you:

The Completely Awesome Writer’s To-Do List*

*I am not responsible for any sort of torture, angst, creative blocks or psychotic plot bunnies this list may cause in your life. 

That being said, please feel free to share, copy, alter or otherwise whatever takes your fancy. Just please remember to link back or give Chasing Dreams credit if you do share it or use it as inspiration for your own awesome to-do list. Thanks and enjoy!

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Poetry Wednesday – I’m not in school anymore and poetry is actually cool!*

*Insert maniacal laughter.

Today is all about poetry. Not everyone is a poet, or enjoys reading it, but I think in general, poetry is either over or underrated. Like most art forms, it’s all about personal preference – what works for some, may not work for others.

Poetry at School Meme

Formal analysis of poetry is possibly one of the most boring aspects of English that we’re subjected to in school. I know that for a long time, I ignored poetry because of it.

Being older now (and probably more boring rather than wiser), I really love the genre and read a wide variety of different poems. Writing them is a slightly different story though, as none of my English poetry lessons stuck!

While we may not all enjoy writing poetry, it does have its uses, particularly – believe it or not – in novel writing.

That being said, I’m always trying to improve various aspects of my writing skills, and I think that one of the benefits in being able to recognise styles of poetry is that it gives me a greater ability to recognise when words don’t quite fit or are unnecessarily repetitive in my other forms of writing. Another advantage to poetry, is that it deals almost exclusively with the use of language. What I mean by this is that while poets write poetry for different reasons, or to convey separate meanings, the use of stressors, rhythm, and word definition is often very deliberate. This is a great skill to develop for novel writing, because it gives you a far wider range of characterization and world building to draw on.Poetry MemeImagine, for example, that you’re writing a modern-day romance novel. It’s set in South Africa, but the MC is actually from a non-English speaking country. The knowledge of stressed syllables in English that you’ve developed from reading and/or writing poetry, becomes quite useful in developing conflict between the characters based on verbal misunderstandings because the MC will stress sounds differently.

When you stop to think about what poetry is, one of the most obvious expressions of poetry is in music. And I don’t personally know any writers who aren’t influenced at some point or another by a song or lyrics that resonate with them.

Which brings us to today’s poetry form – the Lyric Poem.

Wikipedia defines it as:

“…a formal type of poetry which expresses personal emotions or feelings, typically spoken in the first person. The term derives from a form of Ancient Greek literature, the lyric, which was defined by its musical accompaniment, usually on a stringed instrument known as a lyre. The term owes its importance in literary theory to the division developed by Aristotle between three broad categories of poetry: lyrical, dramatic and epic.”

Much lyric poetry depends on regular meter based either on number of syllables or on stress.

Before getting into meters and how they work, I want to share an article from teachingenglish.org that looks at the difference between stressed and unstressed syllables:

Stressed Syllables

A stressed syllable combines five features:

It is l-o-n-g-e-r – com p-u-ter

It is LOUDER – comPUTer

It changes pitch, normally raising slightly.

It is said more clearly -The vowel sound is purer. Compare the first and last vowel sounds with the stressed sound.

It uses larger facial movements – Look in the mirror when you say the word. Look at your jaw and lips in particular.

Take a look at the link above, and then see if you can identify the stressed syllables in the following words:

Confidence

Important

Motel

Genevieve

Laughter

Happiness

Dessert

Desert (Noun)

Desert (Verb)

Present (Noun)

Present (Verb)

As we spend time with poetry, we’ll explore the different meters and how to achieve them in your own poetry. Today, I’d like to share my personal favourite lyric poem and invite you to share your own if you have one. It’s one I studied at school, and I have had it memorized ever since. It’s best enjoyed by reading it aloud.

Grass_with_Daffodils_PNG_Clipart_Picture

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud – William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills, 

When all at once I saw a crowd, 

A host, of golden daffodils; 

Beside the lake, beneath the trees, 

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. 

 

Continuous as the stars that shine 

And twinkle on the milky way, 

They stretched in never-ending line 

Along the margin of a bay: 

Ten thousand saw I at a glance, 

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. 

 

The waves beside them danced; but they 

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: 

A poet could not but be gay, 

In such a jocund company: 

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought 

What wealth the show to me had brought: 

 

For oft, when on my couch I lie 

In vacant or in pensive mood, 

They flash upon that inward eye 

Which is the bliss of solitude; 

And then my heart with pleasure fills, 

And dances with the daffodils.

 

Next week, we’ll take a closer look at meters starting with one of the most common in poetry – iambic pentameter.

 

Do you struggle to hear the stressed syllables in the words? Is it easier when you say them out loud? Share your favourite lyric poem in the comments – I’d love to read them.

November 11th -NaNoWriMo

cat-1
Because every writer should have a cat to remind them that they’re not the omnipotent gods they think they are.
cat-4

Because they don’t give me a choice…

cat-2

Okay, back to work folks. Got to find that plot bunny squirrel!

cat-3

Daily Prompt:

Give your antagonist a cat for the day.

Word Goal: 1667

Total Word Goal: 18 335

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Do you have any other pets that keep you company while you write? Tell me about them in the comments. Have you ever given your characters a pet based on your own?

November 10th – NaNoWriMo

alicorn-cake
Image from here

The. Most. Epic. Cake. Ever

A rainbow-winged-unicorn cake. Seriously. I’m lost for words. Jozi Wrimos, this one is for you.

For the rest of you, see why this is such a big deal on the Jozi Flash page.

You’ve made it to Day Ten. I hope it’s as epic as the cake. If you’re a cake fan, I hope you reward yourself with some today.

Daily Prompt: 

Cake. Obviously. Include it in whatever manner takes your fancy.

Word Goal: 1667

Total Word Goal: 16 667

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How do you feel about cake? Do you think cakes as epic as the winged-rainbow-unicorn one should even be eaten? Is it a crime against epic cakes to eat them?

 

Why Writers Should Never Have a Cat – EVER!*

I have come to the conclusion that cats are anti-writing terrorists. Any animal, really, but cats in particular are the elite branch of anti-writists^. Highly trained saboteurs in the art of ensuring that books will never be written. Ever.

^This is absolutely a word. Ask your cat!

Why do I say this?

Shh… hang on. I’ll be right back.

Sorry about that, I had to… er… feed my cats.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Explaining why cats are anti-writists. Let’s start with their general characteristics, shall we?

  • They’re soft. Oh, so soft. And cuddly. Their fur inspires images of cuddles, warm beds and contented sighs. If you see it, you have to touch it. DO NOT TOUCH IT! It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to stop.
  • They purr. No one is exactly sure how they do it, but that low, soothing rumble is guaranteed to make you forget what you were supposed to be doing.
  • They’re cute and entertaining. Have you ever seen a cat playing with nothing but air? No? GOOD! Pray you never do, because you will instantly stop being productive in an effort to keep them, and thereby yourself, amused.
  • They’re occasionally alarming. Their status as highly efficient predators means that this:

mouse

gets rescued from under the bathroom mat at two in the morning and hidden in the cupboard until it can be released safely when daylight arrives.

As you can see, this is a rather unnerving list of distracting qualifications. Now to examine their specially trained skills designed to prevent writing from ever taking place.

  • Cats are specially adapted to know when you’re trying to write. If you’re writing on a device that requires a keyboard and screen, you’ll have to remove the cat before you can even start. And every two minutes thereafter as they try to return to your keyboard their bed.aya-on-keyboard

If you’re writing with pen and paper, good luck convincing the cat that your writing implements are not a toy. Specifically, their toy. Better luck convincing yourself of that as well.

  • Which brings up the fact that cats are sneaky. Oh, so sneaky. They are experts in mind control. So much so, that they have you convinced that it’s amusing and adorable when they type owebolngsonnalondOP all over your document, or you end up with this: cat-scribblebecause “it was just so funny watching her play with the pen!”
  • They are strategic nappers. This means that instead of choosing an out-of-sight spot to curl up in, they deliberately place themselves in your line of sight. They then proceed to up the cuteness level to unbearable, so that your procrastinating tendencies insist that you need… to… stroke… it! Not once, or twice, or even later. Oh no. Every. Thirty. Seconds. To make it even worse, when you do touch them, they turn on the ultimate weapon – the PURR.
  • The PURR. This weapon of mass-productivity-destruction actually stands for Purposefully Undermining Relative Resourcefulness. Kiss your productivity goodbye, my friend, because as soon as your cat switches the PURR on, it’s gone. Add the belly-just-begging-for-a-rub stretch**: aya

and you may as well give up any intention to get anything at all done.

As if those capabilities weren’t enough, I have recently realised that they have been teaching dogs to be just as effective anti-writists. Behold:

ali

 

*Obviously, writers should actually have ALL the cats! Because they understand us. Why else?

**Aya, a rescue cat (and one of four), was pulled out of my car engine. As you can see from the photo, she is proudly showing off her shaved belly from having been spayed.

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Have some of your own stories to tell about pets you’ve owned? Share them in the comments!