Top 10 free wordpress themes for poetry blogs

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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.

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  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!

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  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.

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  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.

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  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!

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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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.


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

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Are you a newbie writer? Try to avoid these three commonly made mistakes

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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

Write through fear!

fear_writing

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

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

How to become a highly efficient writer in 3 easy steps

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

Poetic inspiration: Instead of comparing, be daring!

writing_comparing

A leaf never compares itself

to another leaf, but rather

enjoys his journey in the wind. So do you:

stop comparing yourself to other writers

and instead invest in yourself

in developing your skills

and enjoy the ride.


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. For additional tips, follow us on twitter and connect with us on facebook.

Learn the biggest secret of every good writer

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We all know that nobody is born as a good writer. It is a constant process of becoming. And I do believe that the difference between good and bad writers it’s not about the skill or gift. It’s not even about the number of written or published pieces. The key word we are looking for is persistence.

Good writer is writing – no matter how many times he fails or writes crappy work. He is there showing up every day, practicing and trying to improve himself. Not only writing, but everything that goes with writing.

In that sense, I think that biggest secret every good writer knows and we often forget is how good writer treats his bad writing. First, he takes time to write, erase, rewrite, edit, tailor every word to what’s need to be written. And how does he know what’s need to be written? He is attuned to his inner-self and follows the voice that drives him to write. Once you master to recognize that voice, you will know if what you wrote is good or bad.

The second essential part here is also his relationship to criticism. He is persistent, not afraid to try, to let his work be judged by the public eye. He knows how to tame his ego and accept constructive advice that can only help him become better and improve his writing.

Good writer is not writing because there is nothing else to do or simply he likes recreationally to scribble. There is ingrained need in him that he has to tell something, his story needs to be written. It’s not a job. It’s not a work. It’s almost like breathing.

Many writers do achieve certain level in their skill and they are determined that it’s all there is. They believe, by default anything they write is good and not subjected to alteration. In reality, what happens is that fear of failure is greater than desire to produce really good piece which requires additional effort and time. And frankly, often their writing is not even close to be good as they think.

Being defensive about the quality of your work is not going to make you a good writer.

So what can you do?

You can make a decision to be different and take responsibility for your writing. Go and write that extra page that many aspiring writers are not prepared to. Put an extra hour and improve that paragraph that has been bugging you. Be brave and send your poem to that journal you’ve been reluctant to do for so many months.

That’s how you become a better writer: with stillness to listen and eagerness to change. Are you ready?


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. For additional tips, follow us on twitter and connect with us on facebook.

3 simple truths about criticism we often forget

criticism_writing

Rejection. Bad review. Returned papers and manuscripts. All these essentially we consider as a bad news. And it’s not fun to experience it. You feel naked and exposed, your heart is pounding, probably you are blushing and even feel embarrassed. “How did this happen“, you might slur for a second, but the only thing you can actually think of is how hurt, disappointed and discouraged at the moment you are.

Today I want to share with you a different look at the criticism that might help you deal with these situations easier in the future.

I believe, the first and foremost thing we need to do is to accept that it is simply inevitable –  there is very small likelihood that everybody will like and approve of your writing. As we are able to appreciate praise for our work so there is also the other side of the coin: we need to face there is always a chance that someone will not find our work suitable.

The second truth we often forget is that there is nothing personal about it. There is no conspiracy against you and your work. Nobody hates your poems and your stories are not boring. But the problem here is that we as writers always offer something that is part of us – thoughts, emotions or knowledge. Any criticism that comes our way, we might translate as a personal attack – to some point that many writers give up creating at all.

One simple thought that helped me a lot at the beginning of my academic career is that any professor, writer or reviewer of my work was also a beginner. He was also rejected and criticized. With years, I managed to write and work with many people I admired as a student. But it takes time and persistence.

Another thing I learned along the way is to differentiate constructive criticism and when someone is just plain rude. These are two completely opposite things: constructive criticism is oriented towards offering helpful insights and advice, while when someone just bashes your work to satisfy their own ego issues – well these type of people you want to avoid completely. These are all merely opinions and you always have the opportunity to explore the source – where is this criticism coming from, is it really applicable to your work, how reviewer /editor is really competent to analyze your type of work. And from that point decide how to accept or deal with criticism.

The third truth that will serve you the most is – take what you can from that experience and simply let go. In order to continue writing and creating, this is the crucial step. If you got honest feedback about your work, take a step back and think how it can help you in your future work; how you can use it to improve your writing and creativity.

Any negative situation is your chance to learn and grow. You are the only one in charge of your self-confidence, so keep writing.


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Poetic inspiration: writing is breathing

How do you make writing a habit? By making room, time and prioritizing your writing, until it becomes habitual, just as breathing is – when you don’t have to think about you need to write – you just do it.

habitualwriting


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Poetic inspiration: Simply enjoy…

writingprocess

As a writer, enjoy your

creative process and

you will be amazed with

the end result.

Maja S. Todorovic


If you liked this post and you are interested in getting more inspiration for your creativity, sign up for our free monthly newsletter. For additional tips, follow us on twitter and connect with us on facebook.

4 reasons why ‘fake it till you make it’ is bad advice for writer

fake_writer

Have you ever read your words for a couple of times and thought “Oh my God, this is really bad, this really sucks!” ? Well it happens to every writer from time to time – that his own thoughts seem strange to him, like he’s faking his own writing!

The truth is, many of us struggle to represent themselves as who they are. They’ll rather follow the trends on social media, rambling about safe topics and not expressing their real opinions. Why? We all have that ingrained need to be liked, loved, accepted – if possible by everybody.

And that my friend it’s simply Sisyphean venture. Many do try to ‘fake till they make’ – build a readership and ‘when the time is right’, they’ll start to write what they really think and feel. Well, there is a slight problem with this approach: If you only follow the crowd, your words are just another minuscule drop in the ocean of the sameness.

I do believe that we as writers have a responsibility to say and write our mind – being that in science, history, poetry or religion. Expressing our opinions in bold, courageous way is not easy, but that’s how change happens. That’s how we open doors to new opportunities, and connect with people we never new existed.

People will care about your words if they can sense your honesty and belief behind them.

And here today, let me share with you what I think is (also in my own case) 4 main reasons we sometimes feel like we deceived our own writing:

  1. You apologize for who you are.

You have probably noticed that brave writers, with strong words and opinions – just don’t give a damn what other people think of them. They don’t apologize for who they are.

They own their opinions and perspective as a part of their own identity. So neither should you hide yourself behind nicely packed words with silky ribbon. Being bold in your writing is being able to take a stand and give yourself permission to share your story.

At the beginning of writing this blog, I was scared – what on earth a geophysicist has so important to say about poetry? But maybe there’s the catch – it offers completely different point of view from someone who studied English literature or creative writing. And as the blog began to grow so did my confidence to more openly share my opinions, intimate stories, struggles. Because that’s what writers do. You never know how your writing will reach and touch someone else.

  1. You are afraid to be vulnerable.

I know, world can be a cruel place. When you are completely open in your writing, everything you are becomes naked and so fragile to every negative comment, rejection, criticism… But this is the part of being a real writer. No matter how many slaps in your face you get, you are still there, showing up, continuing your work and firmly standing behind your words. Don’t be afraid to write about what you feel, what you experienced – it is real to you.

At the beginning of writing this blog I also clang towards safe, general topics. Yet with time, I also felt a need to share more personal experiences I got through poetry and I can tell you it is really liberating. As the act of writing is so fulfilling, so it is being able to show everyone how that wonderful, simple craft or art – you can call it whatever you like, is an amazing tool available to everyone. Everyone! And this blog simply transformed itself into a mission to make that more approachable and understandable to people. And I share some of my painful experiences where poetry directed me to the path of healing. I am vulnerable in my writing but it also has a purpose that’s much stronger and bigger than my fear of being hurt.

  1. You strive towards non-existent perfectionism.

Not good enough. That is the sentence we repeat like mantra and  I believe is the greatest enemy to creativity. As writers we sometimes put so high standards in front of us, that we cloud our reasonable judgment – in times we don’t even see how we are putting the bars higher and higher.

There’s no such thing as perfect writing. There is honest writing, fueled with emotion, passion, purpose and belief. That’s what you should strive for.

  1. Somewhere along the way you lost the intention that drives your writing and it’s hard to get back on track.

You can recognize that this topic is repeating in many of my posts, because I know how it is important  to know why you write. Your writing should seek to contribute, offer different perspective, encourage, inspire, support, analyze / synthesize information or simply to entertain.

Once you become clear with that, you can easily translate vision into a writing goal – then you produce meaningful work.

Do you feel like fake sometimes in your own work? What are your thoughts on this topic? Please share in the comments below.


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