Over the years, I’ve read a lot about different writers’ routines. Some are morning people, some are night owls. Some have set times during which they write, some grab a notebook at the most random of moments. But let’s be honest. It can be difficult to keep up any type of writing routine. If you have a day job and also enjoy spending time relaxing, there might be a sliver of time you could dedicate to writing each day. Or perhaps you’re not the type of person who enjoys routines. You might find it constricting to set aside a specific time to work on your art. In either case, routines don’t necessarily work. So what do we random writers do?

Earlier this year, Erin Entrada Kelly wrote a post for Writer’s Digest about this very topic. As she says in her post, not having a routine is her routine. If that’s your routine as well, you might find some wisdom in what Kelly has to say. In the article, she says, “Never stop writing—even if in your head. When you’re not writing with pen and paper, write with brain and imagination. Mull over your creative ideas. If you don’t have any creative ideas, look for them. They’re all around you. Example: When I’m at the grocery store, I take a nonchalant glance at what the person behind me is buying. Then I create a whole life for them in my head. Then I look at what I’m buying and wonder what kind of story I’m telling. Basically, do some people watching. People are weird, fascinating creatures.”

I love this advice because it doesn’t force you to create a regimented writing time for yourself. You can always be writing! And writing doesn’t necessarily have to take place with a notepad or computer, or even with the project that you’re currently working on. Of course, making progress on your projects is important, but sometimes it’s nice to write or imagine little one-off stories for yourself. It can keep you on your toes and keep you innovating.

Just remember that you don’t necessarily have to wake up at 5:00 every morning, have a mug of herbal tea, and pet your cat while you sit down to write the next ten pages in your draft. Life is busy! If you can incorporate this writing “with brain and imagination,” as Kelly says, you can write at any time. Try “writing” with your co-workers at break time, at the grocery store, or even during your family dinner. Be continuously creating. And then, when you do get the time, sit down and write out those creations. Happy writing!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Welcome, blog readers, to another installment of our “Pick-a-Poem” post. Every Wednesday, we feature a new poem here on the blog. Hopefully, through these posts, you’ll find some new and interesting poetry to read. Each of these poems comes from Poetry Daily, which is a great website that posts a new poem every single day. Be sure to check them out! This week we feature Lovesong of the Square Root of Negative One by Richard Siken. The format of this poem is unique and is quite like a song, as the title suggests.

According to his bio page, Richard Siken is the author of Crush, a poetry collection that won the 2004 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize and a Lambda Literary Award. He has received a Pushcart Prize, two Arizona Commission in the Arts grants, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is also the co-founder and editor at Spork Press.

Lovesong of the Square Root of Negative One by Richard Siken

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Let’s face it, folks. Writing is not always easy. You might have weeks during which your writing flows easily, but you will likely have an equal number of weeks during which you simply can’t write. The worst part is that those writing slump weeks are contagious. You might reach the end of a week, realize you haven’t gotten any writing done, and simply continue that trend. That week easily becomes two, then three, and so on. Eventually (I hope), you will come back to your writing. Sometimes you return in triumph, with a new bit of inspiration bugging your brain, and sometimes you return with your tail between your legs. When you’re crawling back to your writing project to beg its forgiveness, there’s something you can do to lessen the blow.

According to a post that Sarah Perlmutter wrote on her blog, you should allow yourself to write garbage after a writing slump. Sarah says, “After a writing slump, you will probably be at least a little bit rusty. Allow yourself to write crap, it’s okay. You can edit once you’re back in the right mindset. What’s important now is that you’re trying without pressuring yourself, and that will likely mean that you are writing garbage. That’s okay. At least you’re writing something.”

I like this idea because it takes off the pressure you might feel when returning to a project. After some time away, you’re probably feeling bad for not writing and want to do well right out of the gate. But that pressure can turn you off from the writing process even more. So, no pressure! Just get back into the swing of writing by putting down one word after another. Just get the words down. When you’re ready, you can return to that garbage and polish it up.

Right now, I’m not technically in a writing slump. I’ve only neglected my writing for a couple of days, but I can feel a slump coming on. The initial inspiration I felt with my current project has slid away and I’m beginning a chapter that I’m not especially excited about. When I get back to writing, I’m going to take Sarah’s advice. How about you?

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Oh, dear. It seems it has come to this, folks. I’d heard that the final two seasons of “Tales from the Crypt” take a dip in quality, but I couldn’t have expected this. That’s not to say there aren’t a few good ones within this season’s fifteen episodes. Although none of the episodes come close to touching “top ten” territory (maybe not even top twenty or thirty), there are some enjoyable, interesting, and odd stories here.

The premiere episode of the season is actually one of the better ones. It’s a weird one, for sure, but “Let the Punishment Fit the Crime” is an exciting tale of a hotshot lawyer who has found herself outside of her comfort zone and in court in a small town called Stueksville (pronounced Sticksville) due to a moving violation. Catherine O’Hara stars as the lawyer, a Ms. Geraldine Ferrett, and she expects to simply pay her fine and move on with her business as soon as possible. Stueksville isn’t any ordinary town, however. As Ms. Ferrett wanders around the courthouse, she comes across some pictures of how the law was handled in the past — hangings. One picture is subtitled, “Execution in 1910,” while another has the date scratched out, and shows a new model car in the background. It’s repeated throughout the episode that Stueksville is a very strict town, and it occurs to Ms. Ferrett that she may be paying more than just a simple fine. Charming, funny performances from both Catherine O’Hara and Peter MacNicol, who plays the public attorney appointed to Ms. Ferrett, make this episode a fun oddity. It’s nothing amazing, but it is definitely a fun tale with some twists to keep the audience engaged.

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Editor’s Notes #166

Posted: July 12, 2015 in Editor's Notes

Happy Sunday, blog readers! I hope that everyone has been enjoying the summer so far. Before I recap what’s been going on at the blog recently, I just want to remind you about all of the back issues of the Jet Fuel Review that are available for you to read. This, of course, includes our most recently publication. Issue #9 of the Jet Fuel Review is now available for you to enjoy. It includes amazing new poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art from wonderful authors and artists. Read it on the beach, in your hotel room, or in your own backyard!

In terms of writing advice, I’ve been covering lots of different topics recently. A few weeks ago, I wrote about tips for outlining. Instead of following a stream of consciousness style of description for your personal story guide, try relying on the words meanwhilebut, and therefore. I also wrote about creating character histories. Doing this will help you know your characters better, and therefore write them in a more believable way. Another technique you can use to better understand your characters, which I wrote about a few weeks back, is use dialogue. Let your characters do the talking for once, and then listen! Finally, just this past Monday, I wrote about the opening to your story and ways that you might improve it.

In addition, we have continued to feature poetry here on the blog. Our featured poems include Self Portrait with Coyotes by Cynthia Cruz, My Herculaneum by Jennifer Franklin, Induction by Annie Freud, and Furs Not Mine by Andrea Cohen. I highly recommend checking out all of these poetry posts.

On top of all of this, Michael Lane has continued to review every season of the old HBO series, “Tales from the Crypt.” His reviews are always entertaining and insightful, so I recommend checking them out! Recently, he has reviewed season 3, season 4, and season 5. Click through to see what he thought of each season.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the summer content on the blog so far. Stick around for more!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

After what was undoubtedly the worst season to date, the producers of “Tales from the Crypt” struck back in October of 1993 with what is undoubtedly the best season. Thirteen episodes make up season five and, for the most part, these episodes are solid. The cast this time around features the most recognizable names and faces yet, including John Stamos, Tim Curry, Steve Buscemi, Martin Sheen, Brooke Shields…and the list goes on and on. A good cast won’t necessarily make for a good show, so I’m glad to say that the episodes also feature interesting storylines and characters. This is best illustrated in the season premiere, “Death of Some Salesman.”

“Death of Some Salesman” doesn’t have a misleading title. Ed Begley Jr. stars as a crooked salesman who is trying to get one over on unsuspecting families in a rural community by selling them fake cemetery plots. For a while, it’s actually going well for him. He’s quite the charming, convincing door-to-door salesman. He eventually happens upon the Bracketts’ house. The Bracketts are an old couple – a particularly odd old couple – and the salesman has some difficulty selling his scam to them. Just as it seems he’s about to close the deal, Ma and Pa Brackett stop to think things over and the salesman snoops around their house a bit. He’s quickly taken aback as he finds a dismembered head in the microwave, and now he has to con his way out of being killed by the Bracketts. Tim Curry is the real star of the episode, playing not only Ma and Pa Brackett, but also their daughter, Winona Brackett. He’s absolutely brilliant in each role, making for what may be my favorite performance in any episode of the series. This episode is the best one of the season. It’s a fun ride with some great twists that lead to a memorable end. 

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Welcome, blog readers, to another Wednesday. On Wednesdays here, we feature new poetry for you to read and discover. Maybe you’ll find your next favorite poet in one of these posts. These new poems come from Poetry Daily, which is a really helpful site to visit when you’re searching for new poetry. This week we’re featuring Furs Not Mine by Andrea Cohen. It’s a short poem, but I really like what Cohen does with language in that short space, and I like the message that comes across.

According to her bio page, Andrea Cohen has written several collections of poetry, including The Cartographer’s VacationLong Division, and Kentucky Derby. Her work has also appeared in publications such as The New Republic, The New Yorker, and Poetry. She has received a PENDiscovery Award and Glimmer Train‘s Short Fiction Award. She directs the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Furs Not Mine by Andrea Cohen

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