As we are celebrating World Poetry Day, this is a quick reminder that each poem you write is reflection of you in that particular moment. That holds its own beauty and value that nobody can’t deny.


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poetry_dreamjob

How to choose a career path? In these two-part post series I’ll discuss the benefits of reading and writing poetry for career development.

We all know that career as a definition and societal phenomena has undergone many changes and I do believe that today it has become very personal thing. A stay-at-home mom, having three kids and raising her family can be very satisfied with her life. Or someone who is working every day in an isolated lab, researching and developing new formulas can be very proud of their life. It all comes down to what we perceive that we are good at and what we consider success in life.

But we also have to keep in mind that many factors influence our decisions and how we see ourselves – especially in early adolescence. In my culture, technical sciences were seen as a crown of any scientific advancement and many of us were conditioned to make our educational choices according to that premise. Not what you are talented for, not what you liked to do – but rather what job markets needed. And there is nothing wrong with having that factor in mind, but also trying to find that middle ground where you can really express your talents and true nature – in meaningful and contributive way, is what you can do best for yourself (especially when you have a lots of interests).

What all that has to do with poetry, you might ask? Nothing and everything – depending how you look at things. As we practice writing poetry, I do believe that at the most deepest levels, while training ourselves to observe the world, we also observe ourselves: our feelings, needs, inclinations, behavioral patterns, habits. When you write in the first person, your attention is focused on yourself. You are learning about ‘real you’ and from there what kind of life you want. Poetic language is condescend, emotionally ‘pumped up’ and may contain hidden messages that in regular writing we would easily omit.

Free writing and journaling are quite straightforward and direct. Poetry very much relies on metaphor and figurative language. What we actually see and perceive, once expressed in metaphorical speech can also serve as a basis of developing new reality we want to experience – in any aspect of  life. It can trigger ideas for solutions and new approaches to problems, even when it comes to your career choice.

Instead of saying:” I’m confused, I don’t know what I want, what I want to do”, we can also say:

“Everything is blur and fogy around me,

 I can’t see clearly.

If I walk I might trip and fall.”

This kind of perspective can further opens door to new possibilities instead locking us down in our own thinking, leaving us feeling deprived, depressed or miserable. The above metaphor might apply the need for taking cautious, baby steps, trying to focus on one thing at the time (trying to find direction in dense fog and search for light).

This kind of approach can lead to development of healthy narrative identity, as defined by Northwestern University psychologist Dan McAdams. As further described in this article McAdams sees

narrative identity as an internalized story you create about yourself — your own personal myth. Like myths, our narrative identity contains heroes and villains that help us or hold us back, major events that determine the plot, challenges overcome and suffering we have endured. When we want people to understand us, we share our story or parts of it with them; when we want to know who another person is, we ask them to share part of their story.

How we perceive our lives also leads to “narrative choices” we make. If we are able to see anything good in our past experiences and have that internalized narrative that sheds a light of growth and improvement,  is the key to crafting a positive identity, having control over your life and that you are able to overcome life’s obstacles.

And I often like to say “we can’t change the past, but we can rewrite it”. Poetry can help us  to tell a different story about ourselves. Our capabilities, our desires, but also understanding of different perspectives. But most importantly, as poetry ask you to access your deepest and most hidden thoughts and parts of your personality, it can help you realize what you really want, what is your potential and how to realize it.

To complement this reading I also invite you to read this post about benefits of having  purpose statement and vision for your personal development.


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Writing is an act of desired hope and hidden enthusiasm.

Maja S. Todorovic


If you liked this post, please share. And, If you you are interested in getting more inspiration for your creativity, writing and personal growth, sign up for our free monthly newsletter. You’ll get a free e-book with 31 daily prompts to inspire your writing. To learn more about coaching opportunities click here. For additional tips, follow us on twitter and connect with us on facebook

Hello everyone!

Today I just want to share with you a wonderful feature of Business in Rhyme at Endever Publishing Studios. They are very young publishing company with many unique opportunities for writers to get published. I kindly invite you to visit their site and learn more about interesting things they have to offer. It might be just something you were looking for.

Thanks again to Jamie and Endever for such lovely presentation of my blog and I hope this will be just the beginning of the long-term cooperation 🙂


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wordpress-logo-freethemes_poetry

For almost two years I have been blogging constantly on wordpress.com. For that time I had opportunity to follow and read numerous blogs, both on writing and poetry. It made me realize, at least in my case, that certain blogging themes, offered here on wordpress.com in terms of functionality and readability can impact a lot reader’s experience. I have experimented with several themes and today I will share what I think are the best free themes you can use on your blog to better present your poems and make your blog more attractive to your readers. These are my personal preference, but I suggest you play around with different templates and see which one best suits your writing needs. Experiment for couple of days/months and see how it goes. You can always switch to another.

One thing I think is helpful to have in mind is that the theme should always serve your writing. One that presents your content in the most beneficial way, not distracting your reader.

In general what is the best to look for in blogging theme:

  • one that is responsive, which means it looks good on any device;
  • one that offers emphasizing your words, like different typography;
  • one where you can place your social buttons prominent and people can easily access your social media accounts.

So here’s my list:

  1. Penscracth: I used this theme for a long time and I’ve been very pleased with its performance. It is a clean, responsive writing theme with support for site logos, featured images, and in side bar you can place any widget to enhance the functionality of your website. It was really developed with writer’s needs in mind.

penscratch-featured-screenshot

  1. Button is very similar to penscratch. Perfect for long forms of writing, but you can also define a static page, and it allows featured images to really pop up!

button-featured-screenshot

  1. Independent publisher is a beautiful theme with wide central column. It has a light color scheme and paired with bold typography makes any content more attractive. The menu is easily accessible in the upper right corner, and most importantly, it’s responsive.

  1. Chateau-is to go for, if you are looking for something more classic and vintage. It’s an elegant theme which offers the experience of reading an old book, written by hand. You can choose between three different layouts for your blog and multiple archive styles. With five widgets areas in the footer you can customize your blog in many different ways.

chateau-full-page-featured-image

  1. Rebalance is a simple portfolio theme. Initially it is designed with photographers and artists in mind, but if you are more into visual poetry, where you use a lot of graphics, this theme might be perfect for you. Its responsive layout is optimized for all devices and it has a stylish typography. Front page allows you to display multiple posts in clear view.This template supports ‘featured images’ to appear in several places, including archive pages, the portfolio page template, and the home page, so it’s perfect for any visual artist. It also supports for you to upload your own logo and social media buttons are neatly placed just above the menu.

reabalance-screenshot

  1. Syntax is a designed to enhance both writing and reading experience. It’s responsive, with large, easy-to-read type. This is where content takes on all the attention and primary menu is placed behind a tab on the left side of the screen. Very handy!

syntax-featured-screenshot

  1. Celsius is another minimal and clean template that very well accentuates any type of content. This theme supports multiple post formats, slide-out navigation with bold featured images that look good on any device.

screenshotlg

  1. Apostrophe is a fully responsive theme. It’s perfect if you want to organize your poetry like in a poetry journal/magazine for example and give your reader that kind of experience. It has easy-to-read typography paired with a modern, minimalist design. Choose from a single-column layout, or make use of multiple sidebar and footer widget areas. Highlight your best posts to add variety and interest to your homepage, and showcase your social media links at the top of the page.

apostrophe-featured-screenshot

  1. Sapor is another simple and clean theme I recommend. It supports bold images and content that is easy to read. You can chose a layout with right sidebar where you can place your important social media links, your gravatar with your short author biography, list of most popular posts and ext. With this template any content becomes more attractive.

sapor-featured-screenshot

  1. Radcliffe is a bold theme with strong typography and full-width header images. Here is all attention placed on the content, and I what like the most about it (beside the fact it’s responsive) is that it is very eye-catching and it’s inviting you in – to look for more, to read more. It allows you to upload your own custom logo and also includes custom menu in the header.

radcliffe-featured-screenshot

This is just a tiny selection of wide range of themes offered on wordpress.com. Find one that best fits your blog’s needs and customize the way to accentuate your blog, with information in widgets area that are valuable to your readers and that enhances your content.

What are your favorite blogging themes? Please share in the comments below.


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are-you-a-newbie-writer

Mistake. Not very popular word in our vocabulary and it is something you usually don’t want to hear about. But guess what, we are all just humans. And it means we all do make mistakes. It’s a natural part of learning curve and there is nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve been in research and writing for about twenty years and after 50+ published papers, numerous research projects, two dissertations, 3 books and year and a half of blogging, I still do make mistakes. And I don’t mean like grammar and typos. Sometimes I don’t manage to express myself as clearly as I wanted or at times I’m not assertive  enough to share my work… but that all doesn’t matter.

I’m not talking about these kind of mistakes. I’m referring to behavioral attitudes that many young or new writers somehow acquire that can slow down or even hinder their success in writing as a profession.

First mistake: They don’t embrace their talent and passion (enough)

So you like to write. And you write daily. You have a favorite pen and notebook that you carry around with you all the time so you can write whenever you feel like. But your words never see the sunlight beyond the pages of your notebook. Or you have a novel captured in your computer file that you’ve been working on for ages, but you simply can’t finish it. I know. I’ve been there too. Most of writers have. You are afraid to share your writing. We all fear judgment, rejection, negative opinions. But these are all just opinions. Rejection letter is more a sign that you need to get deeper into your writing than it shows that you are a bad writer. It shows that you are trying and that’s what counts. In one of my recent posts I wrote:

Instead of thinking about fear, think of legacy you’ll leave behind.

Every writing will find it’s right reader. If it’s honest and authentic, it will. You must share your work. It’s the only way for your message to be heard and it is a perfect way for you to find motivation to improve your writing even more. You are building a bridge between you and that outer world you want to communicate with. The world that want to hear your story. The world that want to be part of your experience.

Embrace your love for writing: start blogging (if you aren’t already), submit that story or poem to your favorite journal and finish that first draft. Finish it and be proud of yourself.

Second mistake: They don’t test the water before diving in.

What I mean by this is that many writers hurry too much in advance to profile themselves as a fiction or non-fiction writers, short story writers and ext. I believe that the best approach you can apply is to experiment and simply play. Yes, play. Try different genres. No matter how uncomfortable it gets. Not only are you improving your writing skills this way, but you’ll get clearer picture of where you would like to go with your writing. Learn more about yourself this way. For instance, when I was seventeen I got fascinated with earthquakes and volcanoes. So my first degree is engineering in natural sciences. It was followed with job in research and teaching position. Than I branched out into management, still doing research and teaching. At one point I began to flirt with applying arts in learning programs and innovation management. And as I did somehow radically changed my fields of work and interests, they have something in common: writing and teaching – which is my predominant occupation today. One that is fulfilling, contributional and somehow connecting all my talents and skills together.

So try new things, don’t narrow yourself to one or two styles and writing genres. You are a writer who’s opinion, experience, ideas and creativity matters. Your writing matters and you don’t have to decide now what kind of writer you are. You are a writer. Period.

Third mistake: They don’t treat themselves as a real writers.

For me this is very simple. You are, or you are not a writer. Don’t proclaim yourself to be an aspiring writer, beginner writer or recreational writer. If you are serious about writing, than switch your mindset to think and treat yourself like a professional. You become what you identify yourself with. From that kind of thinking you will find motivation for inspired action to move into more professional realms. Educate and invest in yourself in mastering your writing skills and building an audience that can serve for your message to be shared and received by the world. That is what you want. And there is nothing wrong to get paid for your words and services. Does your writing bring valuable contribution? Does it entertains, offers solution or maybe people can learn form it? You can find freelance writing job opportunities in areas you are skilled or experienced in. It might be hard at the beginning in a highly competitive market but you have to start at some point if you want to become a full time writer.  Search for additional paying opportunities like contests and journals. You can also offer a course and different types of content creation that are related to writing. But start early, start now.

These are three typical mistakes I have noticed that newbie writers often fall into. Instead of conclusion, I want to share this beautiful poem by Marge Pierce that so eloquently encapsulates all previously said. I hope it will inspire you to treat your craft as an expression of art, because ‘the real writer is one who really writes’.

For the young who want to

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.

Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don’t have a baby,
call you a bum.

The reason people want M.F.A.’s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else’s mannerisms

is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you’re certified a dentist.

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

(source: poetryfoundation.org)

Further recommended reading:

In this post we share why is your authenticity key to becoming a successful writer.
And learn more why community is essential in building your author platform.

How about you? What mistakes did you make when you first start writing? Please share in the comments below.


If you liked this post, please share. And, If you you are interested in getting more inspiration for your creativity, writing and personal growth, sign up for our free monthly newsletter. You’ll get a free e-book with 31 daily prompts to inspire your writing. To learn more about coaching opportunities click here. For additional tips, follow us on twitter and connect with us on facebook

fear_writing

Don’t let fear paralyze
your writing. Instead,
think of legacy you’ll leave behind.

Maja S. Todorovic


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5-hints-to-reading-poetry

As much as I do believe that technology has given us a lot – a sort of commodity and easiness in our lives, it is also taking from us. We are becoming more accustomed to live fast, do as much as possible while some little enjoyable things flash in a split second, that we are forgetting how they used to feel.

Scrolling down the silver screen, just superficial browsing of information without any deeper thought of what we are actually reading has transferred also on other types of written media. When it comes to poetry – it does require your whole being’s attention.

As discussed here on why people don’t like poetry, I want today to offer you some pointers that might help you enjoy reading poetry even more and discover other poets who’s work sometimes stays undeservedly neglected.

  1. Read the poem more than once. If possible, even try reading it out loud. Poetry differs from prose in sense that is not everything straightforward and open. Words are usually condensed and with each rereading we gain more clarity and can appreciate the message it carries. I have found that it is important not to force ourselves to understand everything, all at once. It is similar to saying ‘when the student is ready, teacher will appear’. For some poems we might not be ready to ‘digest the truth’ it has to offer, in one particular time. Not every poem is ‘our cup of tea’ and that is completely fine and acceptable. Our ultimate goal shouldn’t be to fathom what the poet wanted to say or what question the poem answers, but rather to let something in the experience of reading catches our intention, to find our own value and meaning.
  1. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings that arise while reading the poem. Is there a specific word or phrase you like/dislike? Look at the prevailing theme in the poem and examine those internal images poem is provoking in you.
  1. In our reading practice we may often encounter poems with strange structure, omitted syntax and broken grammar rules. As at the beginning such poem might look weird, focus on the words – as it creates greater emotional response in the reader. Poetry connects unrelated things in the most unusual ways, so stay open to any appearing ambiguity. Enjoy the metaphors, images, rhythm – be rather the appreciator of the artistic expression, than the critic.
  1. Is there a poem you find special and dear to you? Write your response to that poem. Or ‘upgrade’ the existing poem with your own life experiences, thoughts and feelings. In such way, not only you are enjoying reading your favorite poem, but you are working on your own writing skills.
  1. And the last hint I can offer you is in your own writing practice, try to mimic the style of your favorite poet. It will help you to better understand a poet’s intentions and how to express yourself in a different writing form.

Maybe C. Darwin’s quote  sums it all the best:

My mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years… Now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry… I have also almost lost any taste for pictures or music… My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts…

If I had to live my life again I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week… The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809-1882 (pp. 138-139)


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poetry_patience

This post, and the thing I experienced today is a perfect opportunity for me to write about patience and emotional resilience. I actually wrote this post few days ago, but I saved it on my desktop, for further editing and my laptop crashed. Yep, and with it the first version of this post, which I liked much more, but of course, I didn’t back it up, so we are patient and writing again. I hope I’ll manage to express clearly enough what I want to say.

Life consists of many little moments like that. Situations and people we encounter on a daily basis and how we are able to deal with them makes all the difference. And talking about my self – well I’ve never been a champion in mastering those things. Actually I’m quite short-tempered. A quality that I’m not very proud of.

It’s not that I enjoy any kind of quarrel or verbal conflict, but I am very passionate person (in both good and negative way) and it has impacted my life on so many levels. When I believe that I have arguments to defend my case, people can find me too assertive and not very approachable. Especially at work, no matter how you are right (or believe you are right), you need skills to manage situation in such way not to go against your own interests, and when you are under pressure, imprisoned by deadlines and other shortcomings – diplomacy is not the first word that pops up to your mind. When you are emotionally charged up and you let yourself fall into dispute, you are not hurting only the other person, but most importantly you are hurting yourself. And it doesn’t serve you at all.

I’ve been writing poetry on daily basis now for almost three years. And people have been telling me about subtle changes they noticed in my behavior. Positive changes. And I know I worked hard in last couple of years to improve my lifestyle and habits, but this particular I do believe has a lot to do with writing poetry. My colleagues have noticed a that I deal with stressful situations more efficiently, with calm and ease. And when I think more clearly about what they imply to is that instead of reacting to situation, I’m taking my time to respond to situation. I am able to step back and analyze it from different angles. I’m not attacker and I’m not a victim. I am observer and from that vantage point, I deal with problem with much care, taking into consideration other side’s point of view. Writing is like dumping whatever emotional load I could be holding on to, which leaves the space for clarity, compassion and understanding. Or sometimes when I write poem about the situation, it turns on a humorous tone, which makes me laugh and immediately lessens the tension in my body.

And in some other instances..it’s quite interesting. I for example don’t like any type of waiting. In the supermarket, for public transport…what ever it is. I always try to find some shortcut. I might walk instead of waiting, go late in the evening to buy stuff…but you can’t predict and control everything. For New Year’s I went to Belgrade to visit my parents and of course there were many people traveling. Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport is one of the largest in Europe and you can imagine how it can get crowded during the holidays. It was so congested that I waited more than hour to pass security. In previous times, it would probably freak me out, but this time I enjoyed watching people, their characters and thought of dear friends I haven’t seen in a long time.

Writing poetry teaches me to understand the world as it is, without judgment. In such way, you are more flexible to adapt to current conditions instead of trying to mold everything to fit your scenario.  And believe me, it is so liberating!

The best advice I can give you is try to use your daily writing habit to relieve stressful thoughts and feelings. Use it as tool to connect with yourself, honor your most deepest and honest feelings. It will empower your emotional preparedness, clarity, understanding of you current experience and most importantly, it will bring you moments of peace to restore you energy in the crazy and hectic world we live in.

Patience, Though I Have Not

Patience, though I have not
   The thing that I require,
I must of force, God wot,
   Forbear my most desire;
For no ways can I find
To sail against the wind.
Patience, do what they will
   To work me woe or spite,
I shall content me still
   To think both day and night,
To think and hold my peace,
Since there is no redress.
Patience, withouten blame,
   For I offended nought;
I know they know the same,
   Though they have changed their thought.
Was ever thought so moved
To hate that it hath loved?
Patience of all my harm,
   For fortune is my foe;
Patience must be the charm
   To heal me of my woe:
Patience without offence
Is a painful patience.
Sir Thomas Wyatt

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efficient-writer

What exactly is high efficiency? In broader sense, in my own interpretation being highly efficient is being able to accomplish all desired goals in defined time-frame with satisfying results. The most accomplished people in any industry are those who are highly efficient and for writers this is a very  ‘handy trait’ to acquire.

Many of us are not born as highly efficient and productive. But we can learn to improve our performance in any realm of life which can lead to more energy, focus, confidence, productivity and satisfaction – something that any writer desperately needs.

You want to be efficient not occasionally when ‘all pieces of your life fall in the right place in the right time’. You want that sustained confidence and ability to be at the top of all things, having your life and writing under control – not the other way round.

And the next few things I’m about to say here are nothing new to you. You probably heard them a lot of times before, but yet we do forget and slip of our writing wagon. So take my recommendations as a friendly reminder and a guidance to help you examine your life  habits and how that is impacting your writing.

Step 1: take care of your basic needs properly, so you have more time for writing.

You probably could see this one coming. I simply can’t stress enough how this is important. When your basic needs like eating, sleeping  and daily movement/exercise are fulfilled then your body and mind are prepared for any challenge. It’s a prerequisite to any productivity. Fueling your body with healthy whole foods will give you energy, strengthen your immune system and endurance you need in order to achieve what you want. This, paired with enough sleep and relaxation instead of indulging in useless TV program will give you clear mind and focus you need in order to write and jump over that writers block.

I know I named this post easy steps and all this might not be easy in the beginning, but in a way we need to unlearn our unhealthy habits; to start fresh with open mind, heart and faith that with little baby steps we can retrain ourselves  –  to cultivate better habits and allow ourselves become writers we want to be.

Step 2: set reasonably achievable writing goals.

This is where, in my opinion is one of the traps we often as writers fall in. Setting too much goals or goals that are defined in tight time-frames can sometimes play as a true motivator, but more often it produces more pressure which leads to additional stress and discontent. I know that some people can have high performance under pressure, but think about it: how will that actually impact your life in the long run?

I am unfaltering advocate of being true and clear with yourself: what are your priorities? Chose one or two things you really need/want to do and start from there. Doing everything, everywhere in the same time is not a sustainable efficiency.

Step 3: do it, write it – no excuses

We are, with our human nature a real champions when it comes to excuses – why not to do something. You lack time, energy, you are busy, you are hungry, you are too hot or too cold, sleepy or..whatever. If you notice some of these thoughts creeping to your mind, go back to steps one and two. There is all magic happening. Your next poem, story, manuscript or blog post is hiding right up there. When you conquer steps one and two, your productivity will improve, your desire to learn and acquire new skills, have fun and immerse yourself in creative outlets will naturally come back running to you.

Do you have any tips on writing productivity? Please share with us in the comments below.


If you liked this post, please share. And, If you you are interested in getting more inspiration for your creativity, writing and personal growth, sign up for our free monthly newsletter. You’ll get a free e-book with 31 daily prompts to inspire your writing. To learn more about coaching opportunities click here. For additional tips, follow us on twitter and connect with us on facebook