A Journalism Major in a Poetry Class

There are so many different ways to write. But sometimes it’s easy to forget the complexities of these different writing types.  When I started college, my writing experience wasn’t the vastest. It consisted of MLA formatted essays and the beginnings of stories left unfinished. I didn’t step out into the wide writing world until college. I learned APA, how to write press releases, and after a while, poetry writing. In a move that was both scary and exciting, I managed to weasel my way into an English major’s class as a Journalism major. I had pitched it to my advisor as a great way for me to hone my writing skills in case I wanted to be a copywriter. Whatever it takes right? 

Before I took this class, I had mildly ventured out into the world of poetry. When an emotion became too vivid, it was somehow easier for me to channel into poetry than anything else. I even got a few published in my university’s publication. But I didn’t consider myself enough to be a poet. The world of poetry is vast and intimidating, especially for a girl who doesn’t consider herself a writer. Because my poetry wasn’t deep or full of clever author choices, it didn’t feel good enough. Needless to say, my imposter syndrome was pretty high when I walked into my poetry class. 

Thankfully, my professor was encouraging and not at all condescending towards my writing. Which was a blessing to me, because my writing felt juvenile compared to some of the works we were reading. During that time, we kept a journal and had the task of writing a few poems in it a week. As the semester progressed, I felt less perturbed by the blank page when it was time to write. In fact, I sometimes found myself jotting down an idea on my phone to write in the journal later. It was so exciting to feel the current of creativity flowing out of me. Even if my writing wasn’t as “sophisticated” as my classmates’, I was happy with what I had. 

I found that my PR classes helped a lot with my writing instead of hindering it. In a press release, you have to include as much information as possible within a limited word count. Because of this, you have to be strategic when choosing your words. I found this also true when I was writing poetry for class. When you craft a poem, each word you choose matters. It was challenging, but also comforting in its familiarity. I channeled the wisdom I learned from my JMC classes to help me, especially when I was editing my poetry. 

Taking a poetry class also helped my writing skills in my JMC classes. This class allowed me to explore a new writing style that was actually super helpful in my JMC classes. During the time of my poetry class, I was working on a campaign for an advertising competition with my class. The writing experience I got in my poetry class helped me edit the copy for the ads we were pitching. I  discovered that it also helped with my brainstorming process. I guess they both pull from the same pool of creativity! 

In the end, I found my experience in my poetry class to be a big help to my writing and creativity. What about y’all? Have you ever taken a poetry class, and what was the experience like? How did it help out in other parts of your life? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks so much for reading, and happy writing everyone!

Impostor Syndrome: A Writer’s Worst Nightmare

It’s that time of the day. Time to crack open a notebook or open your laptop with a mission to write. Before jumping into the creative pool inside your mind, the blank space makes your brain pause. Your brain starts to buzz, thoughts blurring together into a frenzy. Among the sound of trapped bees buzzing in your head, one thought is loudest of all. Can I really do this? 

Creativity is a vast and diverse landscape, but people still deal with this question. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of pulling stories or notes out of thin air to create new projects. While it’s prevalent in all fields, it blossoms in creative ones like a weed. If you’re not careful, it can kill the flowers in your garden of creativity. Impostor syndrome is a tricky thing, after all.

Impostor syndrome is hard to ignore. When all you want to do is write, but you can’t help thinking about those who are better than you. It doesn’t matter that those authors have been practicing for ages to get where they are. The evil impostor syndrome plays a Jedi mind trick on you to miss those obvious facts. As someone who often faces this looming figure, it can be a daunting obstacle. Especially in a creative city.

A few years ago, I moved to the creative and bustling city of Nashville, TN. It was so exciting to surround myself with music, art and writers. When I did my first year of NaNoWriMo in Nashville, I realized that so many people had the same skill as me. But they wrote like they had perfected their writing skills at Oxford or Yale. Meanwhile, I was in the corner creating middle-school level stuff in comparison. Instead of meeting with groups to discuss my writing, I hid in a local Panera and worked by myself. I felt terrified that they would look down on me for my writing, even though I never met them. I was an impostor in the writing community, and it was only a matter of time before they found out.

Not much has changed since I first dipped my toe into the writing world. I often look at the wonderful, creative people and have that same question floating in my head. It even almost prevented me from starting this blog. I started it four times before I finally shut up that doubting voice and hit post. I have to remind myself that practicing is as important for writing as it is for playing instrument. I can’t reach my potential without taking the time to fail. 

That’s something I would encourage everyone in a creative field to remind themselves. You have to fail to learn, and it’s okay if you keep stumbling. What matters is that you get back up and keep going. Who knows what might lay in store for you down the path you’re traveling. When impostor syndrome blocks the path, you have to stand tall and deal with the obstacle. The other side of it might bring out something new in you that you could never predict.

Happy writing everyone! Never let impostor syndrome stop you from doing what you love.

3 Tips to Spark Your Creativity

When I was brainstorming ideas for my next blog post, my mind was a desert. No ideas stuck, and not even my list of post ideas seemed appealing. After countless pep talks from my sister, I decided that there would be no blog post this week. Then, an idea wormed its way into my head minutes before I crawled into bed. Writer’s block is something that all writers know, but where does the issue stem from? It can often be due to your well of creativity drying up. 

You may be thinking, Emily, that’s obvious. The question isn’t why I’m experiencing this cursed block, but how I move past it. Yet looking at the obvious can help solve issues in new ways. While practicing does help spring you from writer’s block prison, it can be a temporary fix. Besides practicing, try looking into the state of your creativity. Is it a flowing well of ideas? Or are you teetering towards a tiny stream? If you feel the ideas decreasing to a trickle, it’s time to look for creative inspiration. Here are three ways that you can restart your creativity.

1. Take a stroll in nature

Nature is a great inspiration for creativity, especially writing! Take a stroll on your favorite street or trail and make notes of the surroundings. The leaves, the bustling city, even the smells that surround you. It’s a great way to send your brain’s observation skills into hyper-drive. With these observation skills, you can use the world around you to build ideas. The color of a leaf sparks a scene of two warriors galloping through the forest. Or the chirping of birds helps you find the missing piece of the song you’re writing. Going back to nature during a block is a great reminder of the creative flow that exists all around us. 

If you are in an environment that isn’t exploration friendly, the internet is your friend. Use Google Earth to look around a place that inspires you. You will miss out on the smells and sounds of the location, but the beauty of the place will still help. Trying searching both man-made landmarks and nature to make up for the lack of immersion. The variety is a great way to inspire world-building in a story where you are stuck. 

2. Listen to a playlist that helps you focus

Music is a lifesaver when you have burnout. The music can silence the distracting part of your brain and help you focus on your creative side. I have a go-to playlist that I listen to whenever I write or need to focus on creative tasks. Try creating playlists based on how you want to channel your creativity. If you’re stuck writing a song, listen to a playlist with songs in a similar genre to help weed out ideas. When I’m writing stories or poetry, I often listen to movie scores that channel certain moods. For an action scene, fast-paced music is my friend. When I write an emotional scene, slow and moving soundtracks give me inspiration. 

If you don’t know what music to choose, look up playlists on your music app. I found a great playlist on Spotify called Cinematic Chillout. It helps me turn off my crazy brain and focus on the task at hand. They also have playlists by mood. It’s great for writers hoping to channel certain emotions into their scenes. Once you have a playlist for your task, use it as often as possible. Your brain will pair that music with focus and creativity. It will turn on the focus when it hears familiar melodies. 

3. Revisit projects that inspire you

Throughout the years, we stumble across projects that inspire us to create. Whether it is a song or a movie, the final product sparks our creativity. In my last blog post, I talked about a few people who have created inspiring projects. What are the projects that inspire you? Make a list of projects and people who you find inspiring. When you’re struggling, revisit the list and check out one of the projects. 

While you are enjoying the project, ask yourself why you like it. Are the characters well developed? Does it have a witty writing style? Write down these answers for each of your favorite projects and look for common traits. If it’s a writing style, warm up by writing about your characters in that writing style. Use this as a jumping-off point to improve your skills in that writing style. It’s important to take these traits as tools to improve your creativity instead of copying. Don’t copy dialogue you love word-for-word. Instead, channel the tone and style of the dialogue in your work.

How do you restart your creativity? Let me know in the comments below! Any suggestions to crack the creativity code are welcome. If you decide to try out one of these methods, keep me posted on your progress. Happy creating!