Rhythmic Writing

Poet, playwright, Grand Slam Champ, and teacher extraordinaire reg e gaines is in love with words and his enthusiasm is infectious.  Spending an evening with him at a Write Group workshop is always great fun, equal parts inspiring and challenging. Here are some of the insights and techniques he shared that we can all apply fruitfully:

Recognize your rhythms: “Most of us do not recognize the rhythmic aspects of our writing — we run away from the natural, organic rhythms” we create. As an exercise, he had each of us take the first two lines of a popular song we loved, break the words down into beats, and then rewrite the lines using different words, but the same pattern of beats.

Focus on imagery: “If I’m the listener or the reader, what’s the most important technical tool you can use? Imagery. Imagery paints pictures so someone can imagine” what’s being described. If you want me to understand you, your main focus has to be on imagery.” We have to create new metaphors — new ways of describing a particular image — they’re the staple of our writing. When you have a prompt, for example, don’t think in words, think in colors and see where it takes you.

Create new images: “The world we live in wants you to be more literal than figurative — people don’t write in Technicolor anymore.” Challenge yourself by saying, “Every time I sit down to write, I’m going to create a new image. Let loose — free your imagination.” The sun is always described as yellow — but is it? What about eggshell white? We want readers to say, “Wow, I never thought of it like that.”

Storytelling has changed: “One thing we don’t pay attention to: We have a responsibility to advance the form — to move it forward. Your audiences are now so much more sophisticated about having a story told to them. To reach them, the narrative has to be pushed forward. You need strategically placed sound bites.

Rules and regulations can free you:  “As soon as you understand the rules and techniques of writing, your creativity can explode.”

Let music spur your writing: Put music on — an instrumental piece without words — and write in the spaces. This will make you think — and write — faster. Classical music selections may not have enough space between notes. Reg finds jazz works well for this; he listens to Miles Davis or John Coltrane.

Respect your readers: “Too many of us write like we want everyone listening or reading our work to have the same image. The writer should respect my eyes and ears.”

Inspiring ideas to help push us to the next level. Bravo, reg — write on!



About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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2 Responses to Rhythmic Writing

  1. Bing Chang says:


    A Sudden Snow Shower
    Bing Chang – 2/5/2016

    The white flakes gently kiss the tree.
    The piercing wind sets the silence free.
    The moving epiphany of His decree
    Blankets in white the worldly spree.

    The sun ray shines; the dark clouds flee.
    The squirrel from hiding sings joyful glee.
    Snow white in melting slush begs her plea.
    Counting our blessings, we thank Thee.

    (Bing Chang – 6-24-2015)

    On the third day, He let vegetation sprout all over the earth,
    Including seed-bearing plants and fruit trees, only those of worth.
    His words, a cursed spell, ringed humanity’s exile, yet,
    With Him, being predestined, we ourselves reconcile.
    Thorny plants; toxic fruits; mind-deranging leaves emerge,
    From them we experience to learn and mature as He urges.

    Absinthe-drenched mind abandoned Van Gogh’s ear.
    Mad, mad world orphans her heart and won’t hear.
    Honey-dripped tongues savor sweetness, yet bitterness.
    Delirious acts blood-stained SC church in bloodiness.
    We learned? Self-indulgence is weaned on ruinous craving.
    Where is the wormwood? Its poisonous root stamps His warning.

    “Chernobyl” spells the flora and fore-gleams fires of damnation.
    Ghosts of memories linger around forlorn houses of radiation.
    Lonely statue of the Third Trumpet heralds the thunder of inferno.
    Deaf mortals in tribulation escape not, even in the hiding burrow.
    The Star of Wormwood strikes rivers and springs into red blood.
    Sealed saints rise from crimson rivers, re-circumcised, in full bud.

    1. “Chernobyl” is the Ukrainian name for wormwood.
    2. There is a statue in Chernobyl’s Memorial Site depicting the Third Trumpet and the Star of Wormwood.
    3. Van Gogh was under the influence of the Absinthe liquor which uses wormwood as a major ingredient. It was the drink of choice for many artists in late nineteenth century


    My Contemporary Paraphrase of “Psalm 51”
    By Bing Chang
    Have light on us, O Holy Spirit,
    according to your unfailing touch;
    according to your great compassion
    blot out our self-justifications.
    2 Wash away all our vanities
    and cleanse us from our arrogance.
    3 For we know we have closed our hearts,
    and our clogged minds are always before us.
    4 Against you, you only, have we gone astray
    and done what is immoral in your sight;
    so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
    5 Surely we had free-will to choose wrong-doing at birth,
    capable of making wrong choices from the time our mothers conceived us.
    6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught us wisdom in that secret place.
    7 Cleanse us with Your Holy touch, and we will be clean;
    wash us, and we will be whiter than snow.
    8 Let us hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
    9 Hide our faces from our conceits
    and blot out all our pride and self-righteousness.
    10 Create in us a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within us.
    11 Do not cast us from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from us.
    12 Restore to us the joy of your salvation
    and grant us a willing spirit, to sustain us.
    13 Then we will share your ways to others,
    so that non-believers will return to you.
    14 Deliver us from our impoverished spirits, O God,
    You are God, our Savior,
    and our tongues will sing of your righteousness.
    15 Open our lips, Lord,
    and our mouths will declare your praise.
    16 You do not delight in hypocritical act, or we would show it;
    you do not take pleasure in heartless offerings.
    17 Our sacrifice, O God, is a humble spirit;
    an unpretentious and obedient heart
    you, God, will not despise.
    18 May it please you to prosper all nations and mankind,
    to build up the walls of Your Kingdom on earth.
    19 Then you will delight in our worships as your sons,
    in communion as a whole with You, our God, rejoicing;
    then souls of eternal life are forever consecrated in your blessing.
    Into The Sky
    Bing Cbang – 4/28/2015

    Hubble’s 25-year encounter with the heavenly immensity;
    Apostle John’s apocalyptic melodrama of celestial mystery;
    Continually baffled human minds with increasing uncertainties.

    Traversing along vast light-years, our consciousness in futility
    Groped for answers of black hole, dark energy and singularity.
    Seven lampstands, in the sound of trumpets, reveal Cosmo’s reality.

    Hubble’s mirrored lenses, no longer being faulty;
    Unveiled profuse testimonies of creation’s beauty.

    Sandwiched between Alpha and Omega lies infinity.
    Shining stars of glittering galaxies gird sacred Sanctuary.

    Invisible dark forces collapse stars and swallow energy.
    Powerful antimatters annihilate universe’s duality.

    The Cosmo war of light and darkness rages with intensity.
    Seven spirits channeled through the Lamb proclaim victory.

    Opened seals herald judgment on mortals’ morality.
    Libation bowls baptize the era of trees of life in eternity.

    A Blessing To Life
    Bing Chang (9/4/2014)
    (Modeled After Mother Teresa’s Poem of “Life”)

    Life is flesh, sanctify it.
    Life is spirit, believe it.

    Life is temporality, journey it.
    Life is eternity, embrace it.

    Life is limit, transcend it.
    Life is infinity, enter it.

    Life is reality, accept it.
    Life is surreality, dream it.

    Life is memory, cherish it.
    Life is ethereality, experience it.

    Life is suffering, endure it.
    Life is relieving, thank it.

    Life is chaos, overlook it.
    Life is tranquility, enjoy it.

    Life is earthiness, ignore it.
    Life is divinity, praise it.

    Life is repentance, pray for it.
    Life is forgiveness, revere it.

    Life is distress, weather it.
    Life is peace, bathe in it.

    Life is sorrow, tolerate it.
    Life is love, hug it.

    Life is parting, bless it.
    Life is homecoming, glorify it.

    • Hi Bing,

      Thank you so much for sending your lovely poems! They are very inspiring —

      an outpouring of spirit and an appreciation for the beauty and fragility of

      life shines through them. I hope you’ll continue to create and share poetry —

      it is such a powerful way to capture ideas and feelings.

      Write on,



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