5 Reasons To Read Poetry

My love of writing started with poetry and song lyrics. Although I’ve been reading novels since I was kid, I branched out to read poems in my teen and adult years. I think all novelists should be reading poetry along with the books they read! Here are five reasons to read poetry, especially if you write novels.

Expose yourself to new vocabulary

Genre tropes mean you see a lot of the same language used for characters, settings, and conflicts. Poetry can span so many genres and topics, and playing with vocabulary is a key aspect of writing poetry. For me personally, I’m always looking for new words to add to my vocabulary. In all the languages I know, vocabulary is my weak spot. I struggle to use different words and get creative, so poetry gives me easy access to unique words.

Read styles different from genre fiction

If you’re like me and read a lot of genre fiction in the same demographic (YA fantasy!), you’ll notice that a lot of the writing styles are… very similar. Poems tend to have a strong voice, especially since there are so many styles of poems. Haikus, sonnets, free verse, spoken word—they’re all different. I love spoken word poetry and have a background in writing and performing it, and it shows in my fiction writing! Writing that can be read aloud has a different flow to writing that is easier to be read. So

Discover new writers

One of the best reasons! There are so many poets out there! It’s always a good time to find new writers whose work you enjoy. Poets need support and rarely become bestsellers, so hype them up and follow them online when you can.

Get out of reading slumps

Reading a new genre or form is one of my secrets for getting out of a reading slump. It’s an easy way to refresh my palette for reading. I outlined a few more ways I get out of a reading slump, but poetry and anthologies with poetry are some of the surefire ways for me to do it.

Read innovative writing

This is similar to the different styles, but I want to emphasise the innovation of poetry. Poetry can break all the rules of grammar and syntax. Metaphors, similes, symbolism, and imagery shine through in poetry. Innovation in writing craft leads to inspiration!

Here are a few recommendations for some poetry collections available online/digitally.

the secrets i keep by alex casso (Amazon)
bone by yrsa daley-ward (Amazon)
Various Collections by Elle (Gumroad)
Compasses and Other Ornaments of Direction by Coryl Reef (Amazon; I gotta promo!)

If you’re a poet and have some published writing (self-published, or self-hosted, or anywhere else!) feel free to comment below and I’ll be updating this post with them.

Launching A Patreon

After some deliberating, I’ve decided to launch a Patreon for my blog, writing, and art!

Why Patreon?

I played with the idea of placing advertisements on my blog, but I wanted to keep this website as clear and focused as possible on my content. I can’t describe how frustrated I get when I’m visiting a blog, trying to read a post or look at pictures, and I have to scroll through advertisements in order to find the content. Not just scroll past ads to get to the content, but to dig for it amongst the clutter.

I didn’t want that experience for my blog. It felt inaccessible and off-brand for me. So to monetise my work (because a blog is work, writing is work, and art is work), I settled on Patreon.

It’s free to set up. It’s also a platform I’m familiar with. But most importantly, it’s something I need to stick to in order to gain the rewards from it. I hope to get some support for my creative endeavours, notably my artwork. I haven’t had much motivation to create and share my art. Recently, I realised why: I didn’t have an audience for it, and I didn’t value my efforts.

With Patreon, I feel so much more motivated to deliver content, regardless of patrons and how many I have. It’s an external form of accountability.

It’s also a space that I want to grow and focus on. As such, I’ll be announcing blog posts, writing updates, and artwork there before I post to any other social media. While I will continue tweeting, instagramming, pinning, and facebooking, Patreon will come first.

You can follow me for free to get those first updates. I will love you and be eternally grateful if you pledge, too! Exclusive content is available at tier one, the Cait Siths, for $1 a month, so you don’t need to pledge much to get behind-the-scenes.

Click below to reach my Patreon page. I hope to see you there!

Patreon Become A Patron Button

Writing Transformation From Lit Mags

Improve Wring Craft From Lit Mags

During my reading slump at the start of this year, I picked up periodicals again. I had burned myself out of genre fiction and YA fiction. I craved a way for me to improve writing craft. So I turned to my stack of literary magazines and picked Room Magazine to marathon. They release publications four times a year and publish writing exclusively from people who are not cisgender men.

The volumes include poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction, interviews, and essays. The bulk of the content is poetry and short fiction. Eight issues of this magazine is two years’ worth of material, and each volume consists of around 90 pages of content.

I read them in the span of a few weeks. I’m a slow reader, so reading that quantity in that time frame is unheard of for me.

I read nearly 800 pages of literary fiction. I love poetry and short stories, and even though there were pieces I didn’t like in some of the volumes, I still read them. There must have been over 100 pieces total—100 complete written pieces. Imagine reading 100 books, or 100 essays, condensed down into a few pages. That many self-contained stories is magical; inspiring; awesome.

Diverse content

I can’t stress enough the importance of reading diversely—and not just sociological “diverse.” You need to read writing from disabled, queer, black, and/or indigenous people, and/o people of colour. Remember they write more than books! Read their poems and short stories and more. Read different forms—poems, short stories, song lyrics, essays—and different genres in fiction. Even if you write in one genre or form, read widely and away from the style and tropes you normally write.

I’m also a poet and short story writer, so I went into the literary magazine reading with the aims of improving my poems and short stories.

Improve writing craft

Writers learn from reading. And I learned a lot, even if I wasn’t consciously studying, analysing, or evaluating. These pieces were vastly different from the writing I was producing. My main project this year has been my older YA high fantasy novel.

The writing I put into my fantasy novel surged in quality. My words became confident. I sat down to my writing sessions and produced deliberate work. Since I write my novels by scene, I had less difficulty creating self-contained segments of conflict. I could more easily visualise and plan out a condensed piece of my story.

And I won’t get into specifics of how my style of writing changed. But poetry is like a salve on trope-laden, saturated genres like fantasy. I attribute much of my good and great writing to the fact that I started out my writing journey with poetry. If I hadn’t learned poems, I wouldn’t be as good of a writer.

Refreshed palette

In my post about how I beat a reading slump, I outlined three ways I refresh my palette and taste for reading. Literary magazines fall into new genres and other storytelling media. So not only has my wring transformed, but my reading habits have improved and rejuvenated from the change.

If you’d like to subscribe to Room Magazine, I highly encourage you to visit their website and do so. Whether it’s this magazine or another journal, adding a literary magazine to your reading regime will benefit you. And of course all the writers your subscription supports!

The best way for a writer to improve writing craft is to read. Read as much, as varied, and as often as you can. There are so many stories beyond the bestseller and new release shelves in corporate stores. With the Internet at your fingertips, seek out something different to read—and watch yourself change.

Why I Don’t Write In Public

I’ve never been able to write my stories or poems in cafes, libraries, restaurants, or any form of public transit. There are three reasons for this.

Reason 1: I seek inspiration everywhere.

Reason 2: I can’t focus with so much going on around me.

Reason 3: I don’t want to.

I seek inspiration everywhere

There have been train rides spanning hours in length (from an hour and a half to five…) where I could have gotten some serious writing done. I would bring my laptop or a notebook and prepare to weave the words.

But I didn’t write anything, and I’ve stopped trying to when I find myself using public transit, waiting in a restaurant, or sitting in a park.

When I’m out and about in public, whether walking along a trail or in a busy place with lots of people, those are times I’m gathering inspiration for writing.

There’s something magical about letting myself connect with the world outside of me. Living a homebound life (working from home perk, I guess?) means that my time spent in public is limited. Even when I was a university student and out and about every day, I still kept my writing time to my computers and notebooks at home.

I can’t focus with so much going on around me

I have trouble focusing on tasks when my environment is either too bland or too busy. The level of background noise is something I always consider for various tasks.

When I blog, make art, work on freelance edits and design, and keep up with my household, I listen to music, TV shows, and Let’s Plays. But writing? Writing is one of those pieces of work that needs minimal or very specific background noise. Public spaces are places I don’t have control over, and that’s okay! But that means I’m gambling every time I try to focus on a project in a public space.

I don’t want to.

There’s nothing I can say to back up or validate this reason. It’s a simple one. I really don’t like writing with other people around me, so I don’t do it.

Do you write in public spaces or restaurants?

2nd Quarter Goals for 2018

I love working on goals by quarter. I already do month-by-month goals, but having ones that I can work on over a longer span of time is great for me. I still have flexibility, since the goals could be accomplished in 3 weeks, but also have more time to invest on my goals.

Over the next 13 weeks, I have a number of goals that I want to work on and achieve by the summer!

Writing Goals
  • Edit The Pilgrimage
  • Query The Pilgrimage
  • Submit to a literary magazine each month
Creative Goals
Personal Goals
  • Read 1 book every week
  • Do #CorylMornings as often as possible
  • Blog twice a week
  • Launch another super secret project
Freelance Goals

I’m keeping my month-by-month goals private and in my bullet journal for the time being, especially because my goals can fluctuate over time.

Two of my projects are secret ones, but they will be revealed over the next few weeks and months! I want to do a lot of creating as we go into spring and summer. Art, design, and writing are my top priorities.

3 Ways I Beat a Reading Slump

Every so often—about every 4 months, actually—and lasting for a few weeks, I fall into a reading slump. There are books I want to read, but I can’t focus on any of them, even if I’ve been looking forward to reading them.

I’ve gotten very good at navigating reading slumps, since they happen so often and make me so sad. They’ve happened because of burnout from editing, or while I was doing my English degree and reading immense amounts of writing on a daily and weekly basis. There are a number of ways that I ease the pain of not indulging one of my favourite hobbies. But I’m sharing only three of them today!

These three ways of getting out of a reading slump focus on refreshing your taste for stories.

Indulge other storytelling media

If you catch me on Twitter posting about marathon-watching TV shows, I’m likely in a reading slump. I’ll also play video games or watch movies, but I’m less likely to tweet about those.

Movies, TV shows, audiobooks, podcasts, and video games are all different forms of storytelling that can help refresh your palate. As different as books are, they’re still written and words can get repetitive. Humans love stories, so get them in as many forms as possible.

If you need an excuse to marathon-watch a show, I give you your reason.

Read new genres

I have my favourite genres that I like to read. There’s nothing wrong with having a favourite, or getting intimately familiar with all the tropes in the genre. But sometimes, it’s better to branch out and try a new book.

When my reading slump in the fall came from reading too much fantasy, I switched to different genres. Try out a non-fiction book, a short story anthology, a literary magazine, a poetry collection, a contemporary romance–pick up something outside of your regularly scheduled reading.

Work on a project unrelated to writing or reading

As a creative person, I’ve picked up lots of hobbies and skills to flex my creating muscles. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand, so if my reading is sucky and flumpy, so is my writing. I read and write to stimulate my imagination, so other creative hobbies and projects can fill the void that emerges when I stop reading or writing.

I started the year with a big reading slump, so I got back into web development and created the new theme for the website! Coding, painting, drawing, photography, and more are all ways I can creatively interact with the world. Try doing something artistic, crafty, or design-based.

There’s nothing wrong with a reading slump. Sometimes we can’t pick up a book or partake of something we enjoy, and that’s just life. Remember: the slump will pass. You can be bookish and not be reading all the time!

Announcement: Self-Publishing My Poetry

I’m proud to announce I’m self-publishing a poetry collection this November!

COMPASSES AND OTHER ORNAMENTS OF DIRECTION is a 4-part journey that starts in the bliss of toxic love and finishes with lost and forward-thinking freedom after an abusive relationship.

This is a collection of poems I’ve been working on since 2013, when I first started trying to break free from an abusive online relationship. The majority of the poems were completed years ago, but only now have I processed them and the events they percolated from. I added more poems recently, bringing the collection to 4 parts instead of 3.

I’ve also started to realise how fucked up the origin of all these words and pains really is. I’m only now telling it with an appropriate amount of clarity, rather than disillusionment.

When I was a teenager, first new to the Internet and chat rooms and messaging programs, I met lots of people. People who were nice, people who weren’t. People who were catfishes and people who were random weirdos like me just chatting to others for the fun of it. And when I say “teenager”, I mean I was a 13-year-old who was relatively unsupervised and interacted with some creepy men.

I tend to romanticise the man and the relationship I had with him. I want so badly right now to speak well of him—a sentiment echoed in the poem “reincarnate” in the 4th part of the collection—but I know I shouldn’t. There are equal parts shame and protection when I think about him. I’m ashamed, in my 20s, to have been involved with a man in his 20s when I was 13 to 18.

I don’t talk to him now. I haven’t met him in person, I haven’t spoken to him in years, and I have no intention of reconnecting with him or revealing his full name. We weren’t exactly “involved” or dating, but I spent every waking moment talking to him or wanting to talk to him.

This is a hard story to tell when it’s one framed by shame and hurt, instead of the superiority or nonchalance with which I used to tell it. I hate being wrong. And I hate feeling like I’ve done something wrong. I was a child and he was an adult. No matter what anyone says, I’m not at fault.

And I guess this poetry collection is me trying to express the blame and pain I’ve held onto all these years, all the time I was brainwashed into dependency, all the parts of myself I molded to fit his desires.

So please buy the poetry collection. It releases on November 18 exclusively on Amazon in paperback and Kindle forms.

November 18 is significant to him. Maybe if I reclaim it some way, mark it as the day I slung my poems into the world, I’ll associate that day less with him and more with myself.

I’ll be posting small excerpts on my Twitter and my Instagram leading up to the release, as well as the preorder link when I get it! Follow to keep in touch. Cover reveal will be coming soon, too!

Writing Resource Roundup: Playlists

I love background music when I’m writing. I curate playlists for my projects that I listen to exclusively while I write. Currently, I have two playlists (one for The Pilgrimage and one for a contemporary WIP) using my own music library. The music in them relates back to the projects in some way, whether it’s lyrics, ambience, or a general “vibe” to the song.

I most often use instrumental music for my writing playlists and background noise, since I write more fantasy than any other genre. Video game and film scores are my go-to for picking out mood music in fantasy scenes. However, I’m always thinking of contemporary stories when there’s a really, really good song that comes on!

I only recently started using Spotify, but I know lots of other writers put their playlists on there. I jumped on the bandwagon and made a playlist for THE PILGRIMAGE and a playlist for my CLAMS contemporary project. One thing I’ve enjoyed with Spotify is the ability to find artists and bands that are new to me. Since it’s not the same as a local radio station (and has, I’d say, fewer ads), I can explore music a lot more easily.

I also use YouTube a lot for background music, though I go with a “chillstep” kind of vibe. They’re remixed songs with a strong beat, but not a lot of accompanying harmony and melody. Two of the channels I’ve liked recently are ChilloutDeer and Pulse8 (though with Pulse8, I’ve listened to so many of the mixes that I’m hearing repeated songs more often than not). These have the benefit of being for a set amount of time. I’ll tell myself that I’ll work for the length of the mix I select, which is about an hour, and see how I feel after that!

In my brief exploring of Spotify, I found some great playlists and channels that instantly put me into a writing mood. Browsing the “Mood” section of Spotify might lead you down a road of getting too distracted by the music, but if you can find a good station or playlist, that can help you focus on your writing again. Here, I’ve selected 6 playlists that stuck a writing motivation in me.

(Disclaimer: Since I didn’t compile together the music and can’t guarantee the songs will be the same in the future, there is a bit of hit-or-miss when it comes to how you’ll enjoy the compilations.)


This playlist is similar to the YouTube playlists above, with the heavier beats and more remixed vibes.

Ambient Chill

Another playlist for chilling out, though this one is a lot softer and easier than the beat-heavy tunes I’ve already linked.

Classical Music For Reading

This playlist with classical music (from the greats like Mozart to some newer classical composers) would be great for writing as well!

Cinematic Ambience album

This particular album would be good for fantasy ambience! The artist has tons of albums for different moods, film eras, and soundtracks, so check out The Film Score Orchestra for other collections of songs that might be more fitting for your story’s mood.

Your Favorite Coffeehouse

This playlist would be perfect for writing contemporary stories, poetry, fluffy romance! It’s also a sweet and easy vibe for easy listening outside of writing. (I really like this one.)

You & Me

This is a playlist that I think would be nice for soft romances, though maybe not “fluffy” ones. There’s a bittersweet quality to it that I enjoy.

Not everyone can write with background noise, so if that’s you, consider these playlists as sources of inspiration for when you do get to your writing!

Music is an incredible medium for creativity, whether you make visual art or written art. All art begets more art, so I’m a hardcore advocate for experiencing them together. After all, my stories wouldn’t be written the way they are if it weren’t for the music I listened to while writing them.

If you listen to music while you write, do you make playlists for your writing projects? (Whether or not they’re on Spotify, doesn’t matter!)

Literary Tips: Narrator

Regardless of the tense and perspective you use in your story, you will have someone narrating. A story can’t be told if someone isn’t telling it. The person (or being, or source, or entity, etc.) telling the story is the narrator.

In first-person perspective, the narrator is a character in the story using “I” pronouns to tell the story through their eyes. This narrator can be someone in the story, most likely the protagonist, but can also be an narrator who exists outside of the story.

When we move into third-person perspective, of varying distances, the narrator can become a little ambiguous. To really understand narrator and the narrator’s role in the story, we have to remember that the narrator exists regardless of whether or not they’re a character taking part in the story’s plot. You need to consider how close they are with the story and plot.

The narrator in third-person perspective will either be a character in the story, through third-person limited perspective; or it will be a narrator watching the story, as in third-person omniscient perspective. Multiple points of view are possible when you use third-person perspective.

But you must always remember that a narrator exists in every single perspective. In third-person, they may distant or intimate; personal or objective; involved or uninvolved. The narrator still exists.

I find it helpful to imagine the narrator as a character outside the story. They have a certain voice—that storytelling voice that you, the writer, use when you describe scenery in broad strokes that a character wouldn’t particularly or intimately know—and tone to them. There are words that “fit” with the story, and other bits of vocabulary won’t. That’s part of your narrator’s voice. You don’t have to create a character profile for them, of course, but separating them a little more from the characters in the story might help you decide what the narrator knows, shows, and tells.

Another way to imagine your narrator more concretely: imagine yourself telling the story. I don’t mean create a self-insert character via a narrator; but when you write your poem, short story, book (anything, really!), you are the one narrating it. Becoming self-aware of your role as storyteller can be helpful in deciding what to reveal through a narrator vs. a character.

Here are some questions to ask about your narrator (when your narrator is not the protagonist):

Is my narrator invested in the story?

A character like Lemony Snicket in A Series of Unfortunate Events is both a narrator and a character. Snicket is invested in the story, but has no part in the plot. s such, he has biases and can comment on the story through his own lens of personality, experience, and personal investment in the Baudelaires’ story.

Does my narrator affect the plot?

A narrator like Death in The Book Thief is one of those narrators that I personally marvel at. Death affects the plot because that’s what death does–the protagonist’s sibling dying is the most obvious example of Death affecting the plot. But that’s about as far as Death can reach into the plot of The Book Thief. There are different degrees of influence that a narrator can have on the plot, so consider what your narrator can, cannot, does, and does not do.

How personal or objective is my narrator?

With this question, I mean what kinds of stakes and feeling does the narrator have for the protagonist. Do they care at all? Are they merely commenting on events? The less personal your narrator is, the less likely they’ll feel as if they’re a character in the story. If you have a very objective narrator, you may not even consider your narrator to be a character at all. The narrator may just be you, telling the story, and you occasionally hone in on character’s experiences and points of view.

How distanced or intimate is my narrator?

Similar to the above question, consider the distance and intimacy that your narrator has with the plot and characters. In first-person perspective, you are in a more intimate space with the “I” narrator: the story directly involves the character. Swinging toward third-person perspective can create more distance, depending on how you use it. A third-person omniscient perspective has the most distance from the plot. They are an all-seeing storyteller, relaying a story about other people. When your narrator is part of the story in some way, there will be levels of intimacy and distance from the events happening in the plot, since they are involved.

Does my narrator step back when my characters tell the story?

This question is specifically directed at anyone writing a third-person limited story, or a story with multiple points of view. Your characters narrate if they say what they observe, show their thoughts, and experience what comes to their senses of sight, smell, sound, etc. Your narrator might not show up until you pull back from your characters to give a sweeping view of the landscape or explain some worldbuilding.

In The Pilgrimage, I use third-person limited perspective. The story is told through my characters’ eyes—the protagonist, his sister, the two companions they meet, and the antagonist. It seems like a lot of characters already… but I also have a narrator. When I wrote the story, and while I edit it now, I remember that I am the narrator when one of my characters isn’t. I could imagine my narrator as another character outside the story, but because I have an intimate perspective through five characters (*internally screaming*), adding another theoretical character will be too much. So I just remind myself that I’m also involved. I am telling the story when my characters aren’t telling me about their experiences.

A follow-up to this topic is a quick focus on a focalising character! They’re similar to narrators, but not the same thing. When you write in multiple points of view, or have a narrator like Nick in The Great Gatsby, you will also run into a focaliser in the story. My novel uses focaliser characters, but this is content for another post!

Writing Resource Roundup: Revision

Since I started revising my own novel a few weeks ago, I figured the resource roundup for this month should go in line with whatever I’ve been looking up. I may be an editor, but editing your own work is entirely different from editing someone else’s work. These resources are for your own self revision! There will only be a few resources, though, since most of the advice intersects from each of the individual posts and articles.

How to Edit Your Story Like a New York Publisher by Pamela Hodges from The Write Practice

5 Key Questions Writers Should Ask When Revising Writing by Debbie Harmsen from Writers Digest

How To Revise Your Plot in 3 Easy Steps by Tomi Adeyemi

The Best Way To Revise Your Novel by Tomi Adeyemi

I have been obsessed with Tomi’s resources since I discovered her site, and these three posts are so helpful with revising. I also recommend checking out her worksheets and resources for writers!

Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

This book has ample information on editing your own fiction. I will say that it’s less developmental and substantive editing, and more focused on line editing, but I believe it’s still an invaluable resource for writers in any phase of their writing.

Also, here’s a sneaky self-promotion: I have written on developmental edits and line edits!

Do you have any resources and tips for your own revising?