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You haven't entered your Abecedarian yet? Here are some tips and cheats to help

By Raymond G. TaylorPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 4 min read
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One of the great things about being a Vocal+ member is the chance to stretch your skills, broaden your boundaries and take a step out of your comfort zone by entering Vocal challenges. To me, any attempt at writing poetry is a giant leap beyond anything I feel comfortable with.

if you have not yet entered the Abecedarian challenge, please, please do give it a try.

This is why I like to have a go at poetry challenges. I had never even heard of an Abecedarian before I saw this challenge but I was keen to join in the fun and see what I could make of it. Guess what? It wasn't as tough a task as I had first thought. I won't say it was easy but what was it that JFK said about going to the Moon?

So, if you have not yet entered the Vocal Abecedarian challenge, please, please do give it a go. If you are having trouble getting started, or have made a start and stalled, please feel free to make use of some of the little tricks and cheats I use to step into what for me is the tricky territory of poetic expression.

As I write, there are still 6 days left to go. Plenty of time to write 26 lines once you make a start

Six days is plenty of time to write a poem. You can probably do most of the work in one sitting, coming back later to edit and refine. Sometimes, writing stuff down as you think of it (without worrying about the quality) is a great way to make a start. If you find any of these tips useful, please do let us know by mentioning your entry in comments below. I would love to read it.

Top ten tips for writing an Abecedarian

  1. Think of a simple theme for your verse. Something close to your heart or anything that inspires you
  2. If you are having trouble starting, use some of the writer's block suggestions at the end of this article
  3. Getting started is often the hardest part, so just start writing gibberish if you can't think of anything better. If you do, you will be surprised how many great ideas come out of it, not to mention rhyming words
  4. Write your first draft quickly
  5. Where you can't think of a word, leave a blank and move on. Come back to it later.
  6. Having trouble getting the rhythm? Think of a favorite song or poem as you write, following the rhythm in your head
  7. Write the X, Y, and Z lines early on. Let's face it, coming up with a good word choice for X might be the toughest part. If you write these lines first, the rest is easy, yes?
  8. Make good use of dictionaries and online search for words that are hard to choose. Read other poems and, again, listen to songs.
  9. In poetry, word-choice is crucial. Start by going with your first thought, then read it over and over after, thinking of other words that will better evoke the mood you are trying to create
  10. Don't be intimidated by the seemingly literary nature of the exercise. Poetry is for everyone, not just intellectual giants.

On this final point, some of my favorite poems are children's. Why? Because I can understand them, the rhyming schemes are generally simple and easy to follow and the themes tend to be joyful and fun. What's not to like about this kind of poetry? If I write verse, I tend to deploy my knowledge base of children's rhymes more than referencing the literary greats. If you are having trouble writing poetry, as I always do, think of a fovorite children's poem or nursery rhyme or song.

Here’s my entry if you care to read it

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Oh, and I mentioned some tips on how to break your writer's block. There are whole articles on this on Vocal. Personally I don't believe in writer's block but we all have times when the muse won't come. Obvious thing to do is to step away from the desk, the keyboard or the notebook and go for a walk, do the washing up (Agatha Christie's source of much inspiration), pump some iron, kick a ball around, listen to some music, read a book, come back another time. The other thing to do is just write whatever comes into your head and keep the word stream going however meaningless. This will start your creative juices flowing if nothing else does.

For this particular challenge, you could also try writing out the 26 letters in a column of 26 lines. Then write some random words against each of them, in no particular order. Just write down the first words you can think of. Write more than one if you think of them. Just write everything down. This will produce some word associations that may well lead to an idea that you can develop. If your first attempt doesn't work, start afresh.

The fact that you have to start each line with each letter of the alphabet in some ways makes the task easier. The A, B, C is there to guide you through the process.

Easy, peasy, yes?

Go, on! If you haven't already done so, please do attempt this challenge and do let us know how you get on by adding a link in comments below.

Being a part of community exercises such as this one is what makes Vocal a great place to be. It helps you, it helps me, it helps all of us develop our writing skills, practice, and helps build the audience.

Thanks for reading and good luck in the challenge!

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About the Creator

Raymond G. Taylor

Author based in Kent, England. A writer of fictional short stories in a wide range of genres, he has been a non-fiction writer since the 1980s. Non-fiction subjects include art, history, technology, business, law, and the human condition.

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Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (9)

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  • sleepy drafts30 days ago

    I love how encouraging this article is. I have to agree, if you haven't entered the abecedarian contest yet, please do! It really helped get me back into the groove of writing. I also agree with what you said about Vocal challenges pushing us to get outside our comfort zones and try something new. It's always so fun seeing what comes to light! You've provided some fantastic, thoughtful tips for getting started. Congratulations on your Arthurian Abecedarian receiving Top Story, also!! Two wonderful reads in one. Awesome work! Thank you for writing this and sharing this advice/encouragement!

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    I've published an Abecedarian 2 years ago but I found it very difficult at that time so it became more of a story rather than a poem. I didn't have the time to write a new one for this challenge so I submitted that old one to it for shits and giggles. However, a dictionary for X, that's genius! I don't know why I didn't think of that, lol. The only thing that coming to my mind now for X is Xerneas which happens to be a Pokemon, lol! Maybe a can write a Pokemon themed Abecedarian! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  • Babs Iversonabout a month ago

    Fantastic tips and advice!!!

  • M Leeabout a month ago

    Very helpful advice! Thank you for sharing!

  • John Coxabout a month ago

    These are all great tips! I especially like the idea of children’s poems. It reminds me of how I enjoy reading Dr. Seuss books to my grandsons and how much more attentive they are than prose based children’s stories.

  • Naveed about a month ago

    Fantastic advice! Your experience with the Abecedarian challenge is encouraging. Ready to embrace the challenge!

  • Sandra Tena Coleabout a month ago

    Cool! I just submitted mine this morning, but this advise is good for many possible pieces, so I'm keeping it in mind xx

  • L.C. Schäferabout a month ago

    I've had a bash at it 😁 Not my favourite form to write but always nice to stretch muscles you didn't know you had 😁

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