Thursday Thoughts: Writing Sites Worth Investigating

07 Jul

7:39 a.m. — Walnut Creek

Hello, all. If I sound discombobulated today, my mother and I had powerwashers, lath staplers, and hammerers working on her deck all day yesterday. In a small flat there is nowhere to hide. They will be back today to lay cement. Sigh.

I have a mix of sites to suggest and I will tell you what each does and why I have it bookmarked. Sometimes it’s for an article, sometimes a whole site. Their order is random.

Kristin Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone, says in her about page: “Kristen worked in international sales before transitioning into a career as an author, freelance editor and speaker. She takes her years of experience in sales & promotion and merges it with almost a decade as a writer to create a program designed to help authors construct a platform in the new paradigm of publishing…Most importantly, Kristen helps authors of all levels connect to their READERS and then maintain a relationship that grows into a long-term fan base.”

This may seem an odd choice, but as a blog keeper, I subscribe to a few blogs about blogging. As an industry, I find it fascinating. Kristin covers many aspects of writers and their connections to social media. If this interests you, she has a site worth investigating. If you do nothing else check out her article on the advent of Google+. It is a funny read.

This next suggestion is a post about creativity based on Brian Eno’s [musician, producer, composer] creative process. We know most of these things, but I find it never hurts to read something that reminds us: “It quite frequently happens that you’re just treading water for quite a long time. Nothing really dramatic seems to be happening. … And then suddenly everything seems to lock together in a different way.” The writer of the article goes on to distil some steps we can/should have put into practice.

9 editing Tips that Make Your Writing Sparkle is also a single post with its focus on…editing. I know. You weren’t expecting that. Again, we know most of these steps, but how many do we remember to do? Uh huh…I thought so.

This next suggestion is, again, a single post, titled Becoming a Poet. Despite having been writing for twenty years, I found the post interesting and full of details I enjoyed reading because they reflect my own path in many instances. Author of the article Robin Smith-Johnson says “I don’t have my first attempts at writing poems, but I imagine they were full of abstractions. Now I admire poems for their focus, their specificity, their honesty.  Poets pay attention to the world around them and attempt to capture their vision in words. I also liked the small scale of poems. A poem can be written on scrap paper, tucked in a pocket to be worked on later. I have boxes filled with the rough drafts of poems in various stages of revision. Sometimes I take these sketchy beginnings and use them as the starting point for a new poem.

And, my brain just died. I’m feeling lucky to have managed to introduce four, but as I have been staring at the page for several minutes with the whir of the cement mixer in the background, I think I will call it a day and go drown myself in coffee.

Do tell me if any of this makes no sense, or should a question arise. Click buttons if you know someone who would be interested in any of these sites. Send me any topics you wish me to cover. I have great fun doing reader-generated topics.

I will see you tomorrow for the roundup; next Tuesday for a new form [get ready]; and next Thursday for a discussion on freewriting.

Happy reading and writing, everyone.


Posted by on 07/07/2011 in poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , ,

12 responses to “Thursday Thoughts: Writing Sites Worth Investigating

  1. wordsandthoughtspjs

    07/07/2011 at 1:32 pm

    Thanks Margo, I am going to check out some of the sites now. I doubt the coffee with help drown out the noise, but who can resist a good cup of coffee 🙂


    • margo roby

      07/07/2011 at 3:01 pm

      I certainly can’t, Pamela 🙂

  2. anjum wasim dar

    07/07/2011 at 2:02 pm

    Hi M missing you much-I guess its a day of ‘whirring, and drowning’ – the twins have written something for you-

    • margo roby

      07/07/2011 at 3:03 pm

      Hi Anjum! I’m still waiting for the vacation part of my vacation. I don’t notice any lessening of busyness. Fortunately, the whirring has stopped for now. They’ll be back tomorrow to seal the deck.


  3. vivinfrance

    07/07/2011 at 3:56 pm

    you have my sympathy. Noise is such an intimidating form of pollution. I will look at your sites tomorrow, as I’m all tuckered out now.

  4. margo roby

    07/07/2011 at 4:03 pm

    Yes, it is, Viv. By the time the workers leave my mother and I feel like we have put in a full day at their sides. And site-looking is definitely done better untuckered, as it usually requires reading.


  5. Tilly Bud

    07/07/2011 at 5:45 pm

    It is much harder on the senses than people realise. Hope it’s at an end now.

    Thanks for these.

  6. margo roby

    07/07/2011 at 5:59 pm

    I think the noisy part is at an end, Tilly Bud. The cement is drying. Now they have to seal it.

    And, you are welcome — margo

  7. Mike Patrick

    08/07/2011 at 10:43 am

    This summer is proving to be a bit taxing here too. We happen to be blessed(?) with a swimming pool. It seems every day is filled with babysitting, overnight houseguests, BBQs or swimming with the grandkids. While I love all the time with the grandkids, there has been no time for writing. I still haven’t started on Sunday’s wordle. Last night, after everyone was bedded down, I saw my chance . . . and the power to our entire subdivision went off. It came back on at 5am.

  8. margo roby

    08/07/2011 at 1:49 pm

    I did wonder whether you had fallen off the planet, Mike, but suspected it had something to do with summer and kids. I admit the power thing seems a cruel, ironic and totally unnecessary thing to throw at you, but as my mother keeps saying: Life happens.
    Thanks for the note so I know you are alive. Here’s hoping you manage another window of time before school starts. I think it’s safe to say we all miss you and your poetry.


  9. Mike Patrick

    08/07/2011 at 2:40 pm

    I found the Brian Eno’s process very interesting because I use modified versions of his tools to assist the creative process.

    While I don’t keep a microcassette recorder on hand for freeform capture (darn good idea though), I capture and write down those stray thoughts or concepts as soon as I can. (Over the years, I’ve studied several mnemonic systems which allow me to remember stuff until I get to a keyboard. I started with Harry Lorayne’s The Memory Book, The Remembering People Book, and How To Develop A Super Power Memory, back in the 1970s and have read 6 to 8 by other authors. Studying these systems were probably the smartest thing I ever did, and I would highly recommend them for anyone).

    Similar to Eno’s blank state, I have tried white, brown and pink noise to shut out the noises in my head—it’s cheaper than thorazine (that’s a joke). I use a free site, at, for them. I’d never heard of pink or brown noise before I found it. If you want to try them, when the site opens, scroll up. It doesn’t open at the top of the page, and that is where the noise controls are located.

    I have always used music to establish a background rhythm, a simple metronome didn’t work. With music playing, words often start falling into place as a lyric.

    Another tool I use to open a path to my right-brain, emotional side, was learned from Betty Edwards art book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. She teaches simple contour or upside-down drawings to switch the mind from left to right brain activity. For those who have never knowingly forced themselves into right-brain activity, it is an interesting experiment. One is quickly transported to a place, with no sense of time, ruled by emotion rather than cognition.

    Eno’s other ideas are things I’ll be trying soon. Very interesting read.

    I read the better writing habits article too. Editing is my biggest bugaboo . . . well, spelling is the biggest, but editing is right behind it. I’ve never reread anything I’ve written where I couldn’t find places to improve it. When should one finally say that a piece is done?

    • margo roby

      08/07/2011 at 3:02 pm

      @ Mike: Great response. Thank you. More food for others’ thoughts as well as my own.

      I like the Eno very much. I tried a microcassette once but still wanted/preferred pen and paper, so I try never to be without. I will look into the mnemonic avenues you suggest as the one or two times I have had to rely on memory have involved repetition.

      Noise: I use the television on a benign channel and low volume and that’s all I need but I’ll look at your site.

      I loved the Betty Edwards, mostly because I can only draw stick figures, and not very good ones. But I had not thought of using her to access the creativity and then shifting to writing.

      If you have not been to Elizabeth’s new discussion site, you might visit. Her discussion this week is revision/editing and you can read what others say about it. I’ll write my response probably early next week. You can find her at:

      One of my Thursday Thoughts will be on the discussion of when is a poem done, and I’ll let you know when that goes up [at least my feeble brain will try and remember]. As you mention, it never is. A better question might be when is it ready for submission, yes? Main things to look at: Sound, Order, Sense. You almost have to read the poem aloud, if punctuation is a problem, as the reading will tell you how you want the reader to read the poem. So, does it sound right? The right words for both meaning and sound. Does the order work to convey the truth of the poem? This is something you are good at, so should not present a problem usually. Does it make sense? Ultimately, are you using the best words in their best order?

      I may come back and copy this when I talk about it!

      And even after a poem is published, you may reread it and something new will strike you because you have changed. But that doesn’t mean the poem wasn’t ready for submission.

      This was fun. Thank you.



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