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Posts tagged ‘poetry’

Are you growing as a writer?


If you compare what you’re writing now with some of your earlier work, you should be able to see how far you’ve come. Certainly most writers will have made progress in areas of craft – such as being able to put words together more skilfully, and share story background with less “telling” and more “showing.”

You’ve probably also learned how to motivate your characters so they come across as real human beings with desires and goals we, as readers, can relate to.

But there are other kinds of growing writers can, and should, be doing.

Are you keeping up with trends?

This doesn’t mean slavishly imitating the current best-seller, whether it’s 50 shades of gratuitousness or the latest da vinci whatever. It means being aware of developments in the writing world. We know readers are increasingly reading our books on devices from ereaders to smart phones.

Have you seen how your chapters look on an iPhone? For more on this, check out “What’s Going on with Readers Today?” at

Some writers gloat about not understanding the electronic world and social media. Sure, it’s time consuming, occasionally time wasting, but that’s up to the user. When politicians are taking to social media in droves, you can be sure it’s because that’s where the voters are. Do you know where your readers are? Keeping up with them on social media makes perfect sense.

If you’ve been writing for some time, are you breaking new ground with your current work? 

Settling into a writing rut not only risks losing readers, it also bores the writer. Next time you write a scene that’s similar to what you’ve done before, challenge yourself to write it in a completely fresh way.

If you usually write novels, try a novella or a short story. Perhaps even some poetry. If you write in one genre, try reading in a few others to see if your voice would fit in any of them. Recently I ventured into digital-first publishing with my book, Birthright, a long novel that crossed over between romance and science fiction. No guarantees of success, but it’s a lot of fun and taking me in directions I’d almost forgotten I loved.

You can do this too. Try mixing up your romance with a dash of paranormal. Or your romantic suspense with a shot of inspirational. These days there are no limits to what a writer can try, and who knows, your little experiment may just catapult you into best-sellerdom. As a writer, what are you doing to keep your work fresh? Share your comments here.



on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook

Read some reviews already up at




You’re a writer, you can dash something off

During the last month while I’ve been Established Writer-in-Residence at Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre in Perth, I’ve discussed craft and lifestyle issues with writers working in many different fields. One experience we all have trouble with is when non writers assume that because your job is to put words together, you can do it at the drop of a hat.

Birthday cards and get-well cards are the most trying

We might not even know the person the card is intended for. Yet we’re still expected to come up with something witty to make the card sparkle.

Roses are red, violets are blue,

Get well or not, it’s all up to you.

Um…no. “Just dash something off.”  

Susan O’Brien, a delightful and talented poet I met at Poets@KSP, said she was also told, “It doesn’t matter if the poem doesn’t rhyme.” The person asking had no idea what kind of poetry Susan writes. Didn’t matter. Just dash something off. It’s not that we don’t want to help, but it’s as difficult as anyone else would have demonstrating their trade on a whim.

Would you approach a doctor at a social gathering

and request a note for your employer?

It doesn’t matter if I’m sick or not, just dash something off. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Yet writers are constantly asked to supply original words to suit any occasion. “Don’t spend any time on it, whatever you do will be fine.” Would that our editors were equally agreeable.

Just call me Hallmark

More often than not, I agonise over words, reaching for exactly the right phrases to capture a thought or feeling. Or strive to describe a character’s situation so vividly that a reader lives it, rather than reading about it. It’s not unusual for writers to read over the previous day’s work, delete the lot of it and start again.

When I wrote my first novels, I was still a freelance writer of non fiction books and articles. Yet I managed to write five books over two years. When I decided to write novels exclusively, I looked forward to seeing my output soar. Guess what? I still wrote two to three novels a year. By then I’d used up all the plots I’d carried around in my head, and much of my own experiences. And my expectations for myself had risen.

The writing gets harder, not easier as you demand more of yourself

The act of putting the words together was less scary because I knew I could do it. But what was I to write about? The terror of the blank screen or page haunts every writer I know. I believe we write to see IF we can do it. Every book is a first book. New challenges, new pitfalls.

Roses are red, violets are…azure, beryl, cerulean, cobalt, indigo, navy, royal, sapphire, teal, turquoise, ultramarine

Nope, no dashing off happening here. What about you?


Established Writer in Residence, Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Perth

And dashing posts off on Twitter @valerieparv

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