Writing Toward Home

Writing , Ideas, and Encouragement

Month: April 2016

Wordplay Wednesday Poetry Power

Haiku-  Small, Powerful Poetry





Today we conclude our celebration of National Poetry Month with an exploration of one of the shortest but most powerful forms – haiku.

Haiku is a popular and traditional form of Japanese poetry, which relies heavily on creating images.


Traditionally, haiku poems were written about an aspect of nature such as weather, animals, or seasons. Contemporary haiku may be about anything that leaves a strong impression or feeling.


Haiku is an easily recognizable form because of its structure: a three line poem containing a total of 17 syllables. There are 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 in the third.


When creating a haiku, you should focus on sensory details such as colors, textures, or sounds. Use adverbs sparingly in your poem, instead rely on strong verbs, nouns, and adjectives.


A wonderful way to get inspiration for writing haiku is to take a walk outside and observe the natural world. Let what you see, hear, feel, and smell in your surroundings ignite your imagination.



Try writing haiku. It is a wonderful way to make yourself slow down and take new notice of the world around you. Plus, having to work within the line and syllable parameters stimulates your creativity. That’s what Wordplay Wednesdays are all about!



Here is my Haiku.



Bright leaves fluttering

Flowers bending and swaying

Wind provides the music.


pexels-photo-62279 flower

Try a haiku today. It is Powerful Poetry in a small package.



Happy writing!

Wordplay Wednesday Poetry Palooza!

Wordplay Wednesday   Poetry Palooza!


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We are continuing to celebrate April as National Poetry Month.


So far we have explored free verse, acrostics and diamantes.


Today we are going to work with cinquains, which are poems of five lines. The name comes from the French word, cinq, which means five.
There are several variations of the cinquain, all of which follow a pattern of either a prescribed number of words or syllables. As with diamantes, each line of a cinquain is made up of a specific word type.


I am going to show the form which follows the syllable pattern of 2,4,6,8,2.


Line 1:   2 syllables    A one word title ( noun)
Line 2: 4 syllables     Two words that describe the title. ( adjectives)
Line 3: 6 syllables     Three  words that express action.( verbs ending in –ing)
Line 4: 8 syllables       Four words that tell more about Line 1.
Line 5   2 syllables       One word synonym for the title.


Having to use words with a certain number of syllables creates a bit more challenge for writing a cinquain.
You may have to brainstorm a bit to find words that fit.
This would be a great warm-up exercise before a writing session to get the grey matter loose and limber!


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A simpler form calls for using a certain number of words for each line in a 1,2,3,4,1 pattern. You might want to play around with that as well.


Here is my cinquain.


                                                 Mindful, inspired
                                        Thinking, plotting, scribbling
                                       Moving  fingers create  stories

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Give cinquains a try.  Post your efforts in the comments if you like.
 Come on in, the water’s fine!  Have some fun with poetry!




Wordplay Wednesday: Poetry 2

Wordplay Wednesday   The Poetry Playground



Last week we embarked on an exploration of poetry to celebrate April as National Poetry Month.


Poetry is a wonderful genre to engage with for writers of any skill or experience level. It is about creating images and feelings in our own individual style.


As I declared last week, there are no rules in poetry. For some folks that is a welcoming and freeing concept. No rules? Out of my way!

However you may prefer a few parameters in the beginning. Some structure can build a sense of confidence. If you need a starting point, then perhaps using one of many basic poetic  forms  will help as you head off on your journey as a poem-maker.


Today we are going to explore Acrostics and Diamantes.


An acrostic is a poem in which the first letters of each line spell out a word or phrase, which indicates what the poem is about. Usually the first letter of each line is capitalized to make it easier to read the word vertically.


Steps for writing an acrostic:


  1. Choose a word for your topic. It can be about anything.
  2. Write the word vertically
  3. Make a list of words or phrases that relate to or describe your topic.
  4. Place words from your list on lines that begin with the same letter.
  5. Fill in the rest of the lines with relevant words or phrases



Here’s mine:












A Diamante is a seven line poem shaped like a diamond written about two opposite things or ideas. Each line uses specific types of words such as adjectives or gerunds which are nouns formed by adding –ing to verbs.


Steps for writing a diamante:


  1. Brainstorm some opposing ideas or things. Winter/Summer, Desert/Rainforest,   One of these will be the first word of your poem. The other will be the last word of your poem.
  2. Line 1 will be one word, the subject of your poem.
  3. Line 2 will be two adjectives that describe line 1.
  4. Line 3 will be three gerunds or action verbs that tell about Line 1.
  5. Line 4 will be four nouns. The first two words relate to line 1. The second two words relate to line 7.
  6. Line 5 is three gerunds relating to line 7
  7. Line 6 is tow adjectives that describe line 7.
  8. Line 7 is the word that contrast line 1.


Here is my diamante.

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                                                                                              Busy, loud

                                                                            Hurrying, Bustling, Working

                                                                             Traffic, noise, surf, serenity

                                                                              Resting, relaxing, chilling

                                                                                   Tranquil, peaceful






Give acrostics and diamantes a try. It is a great way to exercise your imagination, ingenuity and vocabulary. Plus it’s fun! C’mon  get your feet wet!


Matthias Zomer Photography (MZPh) | all rights reserved


See you next time!






Celebrating Creativity, Passion, and Bravery

“If your dreams don’t scare you they are not big enough.”

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I have heard this statement many times and actually uttered it on Wednesday to a friend of mine who has taken on a big dream of her own. I have thought about those words since I said them to her partly because I am finally beginning to understand what they mean.

Today I am celebrating some brave, creative, and passionate women that I am honored to call friends. All of them in their different spheres are taking on new challenges and projects and dreaming big dreams.

The friend I spoke to this week, Jen P., owns a consignment shop that sells furniture, clothing , and jewelry she creates.  Until recently she rented space in an antique mall. When she was given two months notice to vacate she decided it was time to take her dream to the next level. She is opening her own enormous marketplace that will have room for her to expand her own business, plus have room for many other small vendors to set up shops. Her plans include adding studios for artists, vendors of all kinds,  services such as hair stylists and  tattoo artists, a market for food and craft beers and more. It is a massive undertaking but she is stepping out in faith that this is where God is leading her. Find her at www.sardismarketplace.com.

Another friend, Jen W., is an artist.  She took an art class several years ago and wholeheartedly embraced the creative process. Jen has become a well- known teacher whose classes are always filled with eager students because of her gentle and whimsical approach to art. She has placed her art on magazine covers, flags, notecards and more,  and has just this week added a line of gorgeous clothing. Jen is continually pushing herself to learn new techniques and methods to improve her art. She is putting herself and her art out into the world with courage and commitment to her work both as a creator and an entrepreneur.


 Paula discovered her talent and passion in one of Jen W.’s art classes just last year. The class was on doodling , which is a meditative art form consisting of  creating intricate patterns  and pictures with ink. Paula was a natural at doodling from the beginning. Her skill with intricate, flowing designs is amazing. She has since sold several of her works and just got back from an intensive 5 day training to be a certified Zentangle instructor. She will be teaching classes of her own soon. Paula found her niche and is now taking her talents to new heights.

 Mary is a talented photographer. She has developed her hobby of taking pictures into an amazing skill. Her nature photos have won many prizes and much acclaim. She now has a website that features her stunning work and she leads photography classes and tours. She honed her talents by taking classes, experimenting with new techniques, and spending hours focused on learning everything she could about her passion.


I am inspired by each of these extraordinary women.  They are daring greatly to reach for their dreams. They are inspiring me to do the same.  My dream is to get my books published. It scares me to think of all that is involved, some of which I feel I am not prepared or naturally suited for, but I am going for it.

 As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “ Do something every day that scares you.”

I am using that as my mantra and my creative friends as my role models.

Do you have a big enough dream?  Is it to create stories or art?  To open a business or school?  To embark on a new career or go back to school ? To travel or teach classes? Does the prospect of following through and doing instead of just dreaming scare you?  If it does, then you have found the right dream.

“If your dreams don’t scare you they are not big enough.”

What is your dream?


Word Music: Poetry in Action

Wordplay  Wednesday   

   Word Music: Poetry in Action

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April Is National Poetry Month, so every Wednesday this month Word Play Wednesdays  will be given over to encouraging you to make poetry a part of your life.

 Poetry can be intimidating, but I love poetry because I have learned how engage with it with a sense of playfulness. Over the next four weeks I am going to encourage you to do the same.

First of all I am going to give you my definition:

Poetry is simply words having fun.
It is like finger painting with language to create something unique and free.
It is word music.

Now, that doesn’t sound too scary, does it?  Poetry can be fun to read, share, memorize and write if it you come to it with an attitude of play and joy.


When I taught young children, our April poetry unit was always one of the highlights of the year. Children are naturally poetic in their utterances, writing, and love of word play. Since they had not developed a fear of poetry, my students always amazed me with their stunningly beautiful and original poems.

Somehow as we get older we leave our natural poet behind.  Most of us have had the poetry schooled right out of us because we were required to analyze the “deep” meaning of poems, or identify the kind of rhyme or meter it contained, or been forced to write poems on topics not of our own choosing or in a form that was intimidating.

Forget all of that. Remember: poetry is just words having fun. In our previous Word Play Wednesdays we have been warming up to poetry with our explorations of collecting special words, using alliteration, and creating original similes and metaphors.  All of those exercises can be used to help us create poems.


So why should you write poetry? 

When you create a poem you are expressing your thoughts, feelings, opinions and ideas using vivid images and specific words. Poetry has the power to articulate  emotions and  to transport and/or transform both the writer and the reader.

As I have said before you see the world in a way no one else does. Your thoughts, feelings and perspectives are specific to you and you alone. Writing helps us figure out what we know, what we think and what we feel, and then communicate it to others. Poetry is especially suitable for this.

Before we get started, I need to tell you the rules for writing poetry:


Rule 2. See rule 1.

Poems can be long or short. They can rhyme or not. They can take a specific form or no form at all. They can be about anything at all. They can be silly, sentimental, happy, angry, sad, satirical or heartfelt.  They don’t even have to have capital letters or punctuation. THERE ARE NO RULES. What other forms of writing can make that claim? If there are no rules, then there are no mistakes. How freeing is that?


So let’s write a poem.

 I want you to choose an emotion: love, hate, jealousy, pride, gratitude, happiness, joy, despair, fear, embarrassment, courage, selfishness, generosity, agony, dread.  Choose one that produces a strong image for you.

You may want to begin each line of your poem with your word or you can describe it and then reveal it at the end, or simply use it as your title.

Then you will use similes or metaphors to tell what the emotion is like. You can compare it to a color, an animal, an element of nature, an action and so on. When you feel that you have adequately described that emotion, you are done.

Here’s one I wrote just now :


Fear stalks in silence on quiet paws

Fear has sharp teeth and

Hot breath.

Fear is black and grey

Fear slips out of the shadows

To snatch my dreams.

But fear is slow

And hope is a swift sword.

Give it a try.  Be a word painter!  Have some fun with words.

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If you wish, post your poem in the comments. I would love to see what you wrote!

The Writing Life

The Writing Life: Taking the Dream to Fruition

I have been a writer for most of my life. “ A writer is someone who writes” after all, and I have been writing since age eight. However my dream for a long time has been  to make writing my full-time job, not just an amusing hobby. I think I have achieved my goal, but it looks rather different from what  I imagined.  And while I am a full-time writer, I am not yet a published author. Living the writing life is not just about creating the next bestseller.  It is about loving all the aspects of the work, no matter the outcome, because it allows you to tell a story that is yours alone.

Here’s what my writing life looks like at the moment.

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I am sitting in my studio composing this post with my laptop on my knees because there’s no room for it on my desk, the surface of which is covered with the detritus of a full weekend of writing. There are at least seven spiral notebooks in a sort of pile on the desk along with about ten others at my feet. They represent all of my rough drafts and half stories scribbled in writing sessions covering a couple of years. 

 Interspersed with the notebooks are crumpled, scribbled sticky notes, ragged pages torn from notepads, collapsed stacks of books and magazines and a number of abandoned cups of tea.  The trashcan has overflowed onto the floor and the bookshelf under my desk looks ravaged.

Since retiring from my first career as a teacher almost three years ago I have undertaken developing my “second act” as a writer. Here’s what that entailed over the last three days:

~Goal: Publish stories and articles to establish my credentials as a writer.

Publishing credits are an important piece of the puzzle as I work toward getting a book ready for publication. If I want to attract the notice of an agent or a publisher, I need to  have published work I can point to.

 I spent many hours this weekend rewriting, tweaking and polishing three personal essays for submission to two different online literary publications. The deadline for submission was today, so that took precedence over everything else.  The final drafts went out yesterday afternoon accompanied by my high hopes. The stories were ones I had written over the last year in various writing groups I belong to. As soon as I read the submission guidelines  I knew I had pieces that would fit. The problem was they were located in my vast collection of notebooks- somewhere. I pulled them all out and began to flip through until I found the pieces I wanted.


 Once I found a story,  I began to work on it, and work on it and work on it. Hours later a story of less than 1,000 words was ready to go. I repeated this same pattern two more times, fueled by gallons Earl Grey tea, Kind bars, and peanut butter on rice cakes. I went through countless drafts of each story before pronouncing it ready to send. Then there was the learning curve in getting my work formatted to the specifications for each publication. That was several more hours filled with frustration and grumbling.  Still, it was valuable learning time since I have new skills I can use in the future.

Goal: Teach writing classes in order to help other writers pursue their dreams and to be part of a group of like-minded people.

Today I spent the entire day planning for my Fiction writing class that I teach each Tuesday. Tomorrow’s lesson is on Setting and Description.  I spent several hours on the internet scouring posts for ideas and making notes on sticky pads and scraps of paper.  Plus I consulted my vast writer’s library, pulling books from my shelves and making more notes. I wanted to be sure I have a complete and thorough lesson for my students. They are all talented writers with goals of their own.  Teaching writing classes to adults has been a goal of mine for many years. It is one of the highlights of my week. It offers me an opportunity to be around my “tribe”, those folks who love stories so much they want to create their own.

Next I completed my homework assignment for tomorrow’s writing class. I assign a writing prompt for homework each week . For the first activity in class we all share our writing based on the prompt. I needed to have my writing done for that as well in order to model what I am teaching.

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Goal: Create a blog about writing to encourage others to write.

Having to write for my blog also helps me create new content on a regular basis as well as meeting my goal to produce at least 500 words a day. Blogging is helping me hone my writing skills as well as putting me in touch with others who love stories.


Goal: Learn more about blogging, publishing and targeting my audience.

Right now I am working through 3 online classes that are helping me develop skills as a blogger, writer and entrepreneur. In order to be successful as a writer in the 21st century I need to learn as much as I can about creating and growing  my website, marketing, electronic publishing and so on. I spend time each week listening to podcasts and modules to help me acquire those skills that do not come so naturally to me. This has been a steep learning curve for me, but I am gradually gaining valuable skills and confidence.

Goal: Publish my novel. And then another. Repeat. 

This of course is my ultimate goal. Each week I am spending time rewriting and editing my book. I am also working on the first draft of another book as well as several other story ideas. I have no shortage of projects I wish to pursue. I just need more hours in my day.


For now, I am going to tidy my desk and call it a day.

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