How I Finished my Poetry Manuscript in 2 Weeks

I chose and gathered together the poems for Inside a Writer’s Head several months ago. I tried a few times after that to organize the collection to no avail.

Part of that was my own fault, for trying to organize the collection while choosing the poems, but I also had no idea where to start.

Cue the guiding hand of the Praxis program. I was only one week into Module one when I started thinking about my portfolio project for this month. I talked with Hannah Frankman, the module one advisor, about my goals for the program and how it played into my longer term goals. I initially wanted to finish and publish Inside a Writer’s Head for my project but was advised that a better project would be to market it.

I had my work cut out for me. It was hard at first, and I had to do some research to get some ideas.

To help eliminate the block I had created, I deleted all the section names I’d added. Then I started reading and moved poems around as I did so. I familiarized myself with the poems such that I got ideas for sequences and poems to put together. As I read through the collection more and moved the poems around more, it got easier.

I amazed myself by finishing the manuscript in one week instead of two.

In order to do this, I put my other projects on hold so the poetry collection would be ready for this month.

I also scrapped my initial plan of designing the cover myself. I knew it would take me more time than I had to play around with options and create a design I was happy with.

I reached out first to Alexandra Wagner, a Praxis participant in my cohort. She said she would be unable to complete it by the time I needed it. I asked for suggestions of who to work with and found Jacob Beman. He has a website where he sells clothes with designs he created, and I liked the style and nature of his work. He agreed to work with me and did a really great job on my book cover. I reviewed his work here.

Three things allowed me to have a self-publishing-ready poetry collection: Focused work, a deadline, and finding the right designer.

If you can focus on the project you intent to complete instead of jumping project to project you will surprise yourself how quickly you can complete it.

The deadline for completing the project seemed really tight and super hard to meet. I pushed myself to finish quickly and surprised myself with the speed of my work. If I hadn’t had the extra push to finish the collection before November, it would have taken me longer. If it had been less urgent, I wouldn’t have been as focused or as driven to complete it as quickly as I did.

Find a designer whose work you could see being a great fit for your vison of your book cover and who is excited to work with you. Both of those make for a great experience working with that person and lead to you getting a result you love.

Be sure to check out my Patreon. For $5 you get early access to part three of the Diary of Kaashif Sarwan and another post later this month as well. There are other rewards at every tier, so be sure to check it out!

Inside a Writer’s Head Giveaway!

I’m going to giveaway free e-copies of Inside a Writer’s Head. This post will likely be edited as I refine the nature of the giveaway.


On November 28th I’m going to use a random number generator to determine who will receive free e-copies of Inside a Writer’s Head in the form of an epub or pdf. There will be one winner per 30 entrants. I will also select one winner out of every 15 entrants to receive a preview of Inside a Writer’s Head containing four poems in the collection and poems that didn’t make the final cut as a pdf.


Ways to enter:

Like and share this post on Facebook and like my Facebook page.

Like and retweet this post on Twitter and follow me.

Like this post on Instagram, follow me, and tag two people in the comments.

Like this blog post you’re on right now, follow my blog via email or WordPress account, and share this post on Facebook or Twitter. Send me the link to your post in the comments or alyssachantelwright@gmail.com with the subject line Giveaway Entry.


For each of your entries, you will receive a message confirming your entry along with your entry number. These numbers are in the order in which I saw the entry and added it to my list of who entered where. Your confirmation is for your sake and mine to help me keep track of who has already entered.

I may add more ways to enter later on if this gets more popular or I find a better way to track entries.

Module 2, Week 2, Project Update 2

The other day I shared that I had run into a problem with my project, specifically with the video for last week.

Yesterday I finished my edits and successfully exported and uploaded the video!

I have an older computer, and it was not cooperating with OpenShot long enough to export my video. I had to shorten it quite a bit before it exported the whole video. I cut out a lot of fluff while still getting my point across. Now that I’m aware this can be an issue, I can pay attention when I export this week’s video and not submit it late again.

Because I had this problem, I spent time solving it instead of working on other aspects of the project, such as sharing more on Twitter and devoting more time to writing my blog posts. The last couple days felt a bit thrown together, and I want to spend enough time on each post that it doesn’t feel rushed and like I didn’t give it 100%.

This week I shot the new video on choosing a self-publishing service to go with the written guide I wrote. I also posted on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter everyday.

I started out making the images I post with Vintage Font, which worked really well, until the app wouldn’t let me save my design. I hit their ten free design limit and they wanted me to get a paid version. It was really expensive for what it is, so I deleted the app and went on the hunt for an alternative. I’m not trying to sell the design I make, I just want to create designs for Instagram that I can share other places using images I own. I wanted something free and simple to put text on my photos.

Unsure what to do, and having been unaware of Vintage Font’s paywall, I reached out to my friend Justine. She’d made some text images for me before, so I asked her about it. She suggested Font Candy. That has worked great the last couple days, and hopefully it continues to do so. If it doesn’t, I’ll include that information and the new choice in an update.

I’m planning to do a giveaway of the Inside a Writer’s Head ebook, so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram and like my Facebook page.

I started the giveaway, details in this post.

Become a Patron to get early access to blog posts, a free e-copy of Inside a Writer’s Head, or a signed physical copy of the collection!

Project Update, Week 1

The first week is not quite over, which is good because I still have some work to do to reach my goal.

I started the week off strong. Before November even started, I posted my project outline, which has since been edited a couple times. I planned to jump right into my project and work on it for four weeks instead of taking one to refine my plan and three to work on it.

I wanted to expand into Instagram, so I made an account, @alyssac.wright. I had gotten an idea for promoting my poetry collection while driving home one night. I could use an app like Vintage Font to put lines from poems in Inside a Writer’s Head on nature photos! So I spent about half an hour walking around my neighborhood taking pictures of trees, bushes, the cornfield, and a horse.

Since setting up my account, I posted an image every day promoting Inside a Writer’s Head. I also started thinking about ways to promote my blog on Instagram as well in addition to my poetry collection. I did that for the first time yesterday.

I ran into a roadblock after the excitement of jumping into Instagram and committing to post at least once a day. BookBaby didn’t get me my proofs until Monday, so I don’t have a sale page. Additionally, the proofs weren’t right, I found a couple mistakes, so that pushes the release back further. I don’t know when that will be resolved, and all I can do is wait.

I’ve been sharing the posts I made for Instagram to Facebook and Twitter as well. They get some likes on Facebook and Instagram, but nothing on Twitter. I need to rework my approach for promoting Inside a Writer’s Head on Twitter. I still want to share the photos, but I probably need to post more and learn more about the platform. I’m relatively new, and haven’t figured out how to tweet in such a way that people pay attention. That’s on the docket for the coming week, to tweet more and play around with different kinds of tweets to see what works.

I posted my two blog posts about organizing and formatting a poetry collection. I filmed the video on those subjects, and I’m in the middle of editing it now. I will update this post when it’s up on YouTube.

I filmed on Monday and started editing a little bit. I didn’t do a lot, though, and I realized yesterday that I should have spent more time on it. The main thing I did yesterday was edit the video, and I didn’t get very far. I spent most of today doing that too, and I’m not done yet. Now I know, though, to allocate lots of time for this process.

I spent a lot of time on my project so far in addition to everything else I did that wasn’t directly tied to it. I feel really good about what I’ve accomplished so far, and look forward to seeing how much more I can do next week.

Leave any questions or advice about my project or Inside a Writer’s Head in the comments below. I’d love to discuss with you.

Be sure to check out my Patreon. By becoming a patron you can get early access to blog posts, a free e-copy of Inside a Writer’s Head, or even a signed copy of the physical book!

Choosing a Poetry Collection Organization Style

Last month after I finished organizing Inside a Writer’s Head, I shared what I learned from the experience. Before you pick an organization style, you should check that out. It has four things you should know about the overall process.

This post discusses some different styles or types or organization you could choose when creating your poetry collection.

One thing you should already know if you’re making a collection: The first and last poems, especially, need to be strong.

Topical

If your collection contains poems of a variety of topics, it could be useful, beneficial, or aesthetic to group them based on topic. You can then create defined or undefined sections in the collection as well.

A defined section would have a title, and an undefined section would not. Either way, you’ll want to open and close the section with a strong poem, just like opening and closing the collection.

In the case of Inside a Writer’s Head, I initally tried to have a topical organization based on the subcategories of themes. This didn’t work, in part because it’s a topical collection. This style works better with more than one topic.

Emotional

You can also organize the collection based on the emotion a poem creates in the reader. In the same way a novel shifts in emotions as it progresses and has ups and downs, you can an emotional “plot” with your poetry collection. To do this, first group your poems based on the emotions they evoke.

You can then weave the poems together based on similar lines, topics, etc. throughout the collection, keeping in mind the emotional journey you intend to take readers on. Plan the ups and downs and pick the poems that feel right in each place.

For Inside a Writer’s Head, I incorporated some of this. I placed some poems together to amplify humor, or emphasize certain feelings or reactions to the poems around it.

Lyrical

A possible organization, especially for a collection with a variety of topics, orders the poems so each poem repeats a theme, subject, word, or image from its predecessor. This could create a plot, or add to the emotional effect of the poems. By connecting them in this manner, you allow the poems to speak to each other, as it were, adding more insight or a divergent perspective on the ideas.

This can be an organization style on it’s own or be paired with a topical or emotional style.

Inside a Writer’s Head is largely lyrically organized, blended with some emotional influence, as I mentioned. That isn’t all I employed though. Which brings me to the next style.

Collage

A collage is a smattering of thoughts and images paired together in one place, seemingly or actually at random. They may or may not go together, but they create an effect based on how they are placed.

If you have a topical collection or a large disparity in the number of poems in different topical categories, a collage organization might work well. You can create a mix of the topics, not following a specific rotation of topics, but moving similar topics away from each other.

This is another thing I did for Inside a Writer’s Head. I had a lot of poems about not having inspiration or dealing with writer’s block. Far more than the number of those in the other subcategories I had created. In order to create more balance, I spread out those poems among the other poems. A couple of them are paired together, but they are a bit of a unifying theme in a collage.

 

These are four possible organization styles used in poetry manuscripts.

If you have any questions about these styles, Inside a Writer’s Head, or your poetry collection, leave them in the comments below! I’d love to talk to you about that.

Some Thoughts on NaNo

It’s November, and while I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo, I have in the past and I have friends who are doing it.

At a basic level, NaNo is a 30-day writing challenge, in a similar vein to the month-long personal development projects (PDPs) that are encouraged by Praxis. You spend a month focusing as much time and energy as possible on one goal, one endeavor. At the end, if you’ve spent time each day working toward the goal, you win.

If you don’t write 50k words in November, it doesn’t matter. That’s not the real purpose. If you do, congratulations.

You really win by forming a writing habit and spending focused time working towards a goal, in this case to write a novel, for 30 straight days.

You can make your own rules.

You can set a challenging but obtainable word count goal for yourself. Maybe 50k is too much but you can handle 15 or 20 or even 30k words. Don’t aim so high that you’ll be guaranteed to burn out.

You don’t have to write fiction. You could write poems, blog posts, a non-fiction book, a series of essays. Whatever genre or type of writing you want.

If you really want to, you could decide to do an entirely different month-long project. In fact, I’d encourage you to do some kind of month-long project, NaNo or otherwise.

I’m not doing NaNo, but I am doing a PDP. For the whole month of November, I will be marketing my poetry collection, posting on social media, interacting with people, and creating blog posts and videos about self-publishing.

That’s my project this month.

Tell me about yours in the comments below!

Module 2 Project Outline

For my portfolio project, I am going to employ a variety of methods to market my poetry collection Inside a Writer’s Head. In my project ideas post, I had three ideas related to this. I want to combine these as best as possible to market my poetry collection in the most effective manner.

By the end of the month I want 500 people to have viewed a page where they can purchase the book or ebook and have sold at least 30 copies.

Week 1:

Write about choosing an organization method and formatting a poetry collection. 2 blog posts. Make a video discussing these two topics. Share the posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Create daily posts featuring short exerpts of poems in the collection or about the same topic. Have a link for the ebook and a link to pre-order a physical copy. Post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I’m thinking aesthetic text over a nature image or a plain colored background. Interact with anyone who interacts with the posts.

Week 2:

Write about choosing a self-publishing method/tool/service. Make a video to go with it. Share the posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Adjust my approach based on which posts get the most engagement and replicating that.

Continue the daily posts. Get creative based on engagement with posts on the different platforms.

Week 3:

Write a guide to self-publishing ebooks with BookBaby and make a video. Share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Further adjust based on which posts get the most engagement.

Repeat the daily posts.

Week 4:

Write a guide to self-publishing physical books with BookBaby and make a video. Share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Final adjustments based on the most engaging posts.

Repeat the daily posts.