One of my favorite independent bookstores, A Novel Idea on Passyunk, 1726 East Passyunk Avenue ( https://anovelideaphilly.com/ ), is celebrating its first anniversary in business. There has been a great resurgence in independent bookstores in this country, and that’s great-Amazon and the big box stores, like Barnes and Noble, can’t do it all. These little bookstores are the places where up and coming writers and poets display their material , and the book-buying public connect with them. I urge you to support you locally-based bookstores, authors, poets, and publishers, they are the front line of the written arts in this country.
Over my writing career, I’ve picked up advice for my writing work, through classes and my reading. I want to share them with you:
Keep a pen and notepad on you at ALL times. You never know where and when an idea for an article, poem, or story could come to you. Don’t trust your memory to work for you to retain the idea, you might not remember the idea later.
Watch your environment-the diner you eat at, your neighborhood, your favorite spots, you place of worship, etc.-and take down on paper the scene, the furniture, the sounds, the aromas from the kitchen, the conversation going on. Pick up on what people say, what they wear, their gestures, etc. Give a physical description of what you see, don’t put down what your mind says, don’t editorialize.
Go to places where writers are-conferences, conventions, groups, classes, cafes, bars, etc. Talk to writers and network with them, and learn from them, pick up ideas. Editors and publishers would be in the room where they meet, and they might hire you. Also, subscribe to writers’ media-websites, magazines, manuals, etc. All of that has inspired me to write out drafts of poems and stories.
Practice the art of writing. Write a diary, write letters, take notes of what goes on around you, what you attain with your senses, maintain a blog. Just write anything, when your mind will trigger, and the words will flow freely, and you can find a story or poem in those scribblings.
Read! That tops them all. Read the classics of fiction and poetry, of journalism, newspapers, magazines, blogs-from the classics to the crappiest pulp stuff. Again in my experience, reading triggers in me the urge to do my own writing, right then and there.
Here are a couple of fine writing guidebooks in my life:
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and EB White. This little book is a classic for learning to write with clarity, taking a less-is-more attitude.
Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg. Goldberg is an advocate of free-writing, just putting down whatever you must, just let the pen run free on the paper.