Blog, Poetry, Tutorial

No Time for Rhyme? Tips for Writing Free Verse

Hello. So, before I start the post, let me give you a few updates. First, I did not get a call about either of the two interviews I gave last month. I am now taking a break from applying for copywriting jobs, and focussing on applying for teaching jobs instead. This is something I do once every two or three months, to keep my morale up and avoid boredom. If you recently got a job in either of the two fields, please let me know what you did right. Haha. Second, my husband got the most unique 40th birthday present – a positive Covid-test. He is fine, thankfully, and so are my kids and I. There’s just been a lot of self-isolation going on, so I couldn’t post for a while. Third, I closed my RedBubble shop. Despite good feedback, and intermittent Instagram promotions, I did not manage to get a lot of follows or make even a single sale. Since I made two sales on Etsy, I wanted to make sure I’m able to spend enough time promoting Etsy, rather than trying to juggle two things art once.

Now, back to the topic. So, I love rhyme, but I do not always have the time or energy for it. On days like these, and depending on the subject matter, I like to write free verse. Free verse is verse free from the bounds of fixed meter patterns. So, simplistically put, a poem without a consistent rhyme scheme. Now, how do you add rhythm to a poem without using rhyming words? These are some of the tricks I use:

  1. Title – Make the title of the poem poetic. Use a poetic device in the title itself, or make it imaginative. Let me give you the example of my poem “When Two Become One”. I wrote it a while back, after a minor argument with my husband. Yes, that’s what poets do! They write a poem, no matter what the situation. So, this title portrays an image of coming together and has a romantic ring to it.
  2. Alliteration – Alliteration is repeating the consonant sound at the beginning of a few consecutive words in a sentence. For example, take a line from my poem. “I take pleasure in pleasing people…” Do you notice the repetition of the “p” sound? That is alliteration. It emphasizes an idea and creates a good listening effect, don’t you agree?
  3. Imagery – Creating pictures with words, particularly those that have a sensory effect, are particularly effective in making poetry poetic. “Let’s melt all our ironies into a single paradox…Let’s walk hand in hand.” These are examples of using words to create an image in the reader’s mind. Let the reader see that you’re walking hand in hand. Let the reader feel the ironies melting into each other like a mocha chocolate bomb melting under hot milk in a mug…Oops! Sorry, foodie alert!
  4. Idioms – Idioms are groups of words that have come to possess a meaning in the collective mindset that is different from their literal meaning. “Let’s walk hand in hand towards the evening of our lives.” Here, the evening of our lives means old age, a meaning that literature has popularized, over the years.
  5. Repetition – This is my favourite device, especially while writing free verse. Repeat a word, a phrase or a line and notice the effect it creates. It can help drive a point home, while also creating a unique listening effect. It is used quite commonly in popular songs, as well. Can you think of a favourite song that plays the same line over and over? Doesn’t that line stick to your memory more easily than the other lines, playing in your mind like a broken record?
  6. Dramatic effect – A little exaggeration of emotion, a little bit of word play – techniques such as these create a dramatic effect that works well in poetry. “By an unknown twist of fate…” is used to describe something as mundane as a husband and wife getting used to each other after a few years of living together, in my poem. Also, pay attention to flow by using lines of varied lengths and dividing a sentence into lines such that it sounds rhythmic.

What are some of the techniques you use to make your free verse poetic? Do you like rhyme better or free verse, both as a writer and as a reader? Let me know through the comments section of the post. If you’d like to participate in a one-on-one poetry workshop, get in touch through my contact page. I also offer poetry editing and proofreading services. If you’d like to buy the poem discussed in this post as a scroll, please visit my Etsy shop or the Shop on this website for pricing details.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

Applying for Writing Jobs – My Experience

I should probably have covered this before interview prep, but what’s done is done. So, here are a few things I do while applying for writing jobs.

For the last few months, I have been applying for 4-5 jobs every day, on an average. I take a break over weekends, as someone once told me that emails received over the weekends have a greater chance of getting lost in the recruiters’ mailbox.

I had mentioned in a previous post that I mostly use LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter for submitting job applications, as they have the option of easy/1-click apply, which I find quite useful. However, you have to make sure that your profile is up-to-date and thorough so that you can make the most of this option. It is a good idea to even ask your potential references to leave recommendations or reviews of your work (both platforms have this option), as that makes your application way more effective.

Tips for Filling Out Job Applications

  1. Resume – Pay attention to your resume. It is like your advertisement. Whether you get the chance to show them your potential in an interview or not, depends on this, to a certain extent. My resume includes these sections, in particular- A brief summary, highlights/achievements, strengths, relevant experience, education. The achievements should be relevant and, if possible, measurable. The strengths should include soft skills, as most recruiters in the interviews I sat for recently emphasized on this aspect. The resume should not be too long – mine is 2 pages long. The experience included should be relevant to the job – I usually take off some if they are not relevant to the job posting. I also have a bullet list of specific tasks performed in a particular role. Make sure the list is consistent – so, if one point starts with “Wrote copy…”, the next should say “Performed proofreading…” not “Performing proofreading…”
  2. Customization – I went to a career counselling service when I first started applying for jobs in Toronto. They told me that a lot of times, resumes go through software to help recruiters save time and choose applicants with experience matching the requirements of the job. So, every time I apply for a job, I change the wording on my resume to match the job descriptions. Please note that I do not cheat or add things I haven’t done before. I just use synonyms or different explanations for the same thing to make it closer to the posting.

    These days, I do not have a lot of time to do that (#mommyoftwo), so I make sure I apply to similar jobs (mostly copywriting jobs in Toronto), so I don’t have to spend a lot of time working on the resume.
  3. Creativity – Have an interesting “About me” prepared. For writing jobs, creativity is more important than anything else. So, I usually attach the poem I have written about my writing journey in that section. Some recruiters have told me that that’s what made my application stand out for them, and the reason why I got called for the interview.
  4. Online Writing Portfolio – A link to an online portfolio is something that a lot of recruiters have asked me for, at the first stage of the application process. You can create one for free using WordPress.
  5. Document for Common Questions – Sometimes, job postings require you to fill out a detailed application form. They usually need summary of experience, education, and other things included in your resume. They also usually have “a message for the recruiter.” I have all these listed on a Word document, so that I can just copy and paste it all. I started doing this recently, after I did something really silly.
    I was applying for a job after a rather long, exhausting day (Bad Idea!). So, I filled out all the sections, attached resume and cover letter. When I reached “message for the recruiter”, my mind was blank. I couldn’t think of anything to write. So, I just said, “Hello! Please hire me. Thanks.”

    It is embarrassing to even think about this, so I’ll end the subject here. So, since then, I have written a short message listing why I would make a good match for any copywriting job along with a generic closing line. I just copy and paste it if I face this question while filling out an application now.
  6. Proofreading – This step is so important for writing jobs. Grammatical errors, inconsistencies in your resume can instantly create the wrong impression, right, if proofreading is going to be an important part of your job. So proofread the resume and cover letter, or have someone else do it for you.
  7. Cover Letter – I also have a cover letter – complete, concise, clear and clean – that I send with every application.

Recently, I have also started making a list of all jobs I apply to, as I don’t want to keep applying for the same jobs over and over again. When I receive notice they have moved on to other candidates, I just cross it out, to keep a record of it.

With all the competition out there, I think it is imperative for us to be meticulous, especially at the first stage of the application process.

Let me know if you find these tips helpful, or if you feel like they are missing something. If you need resume writing or proofreading services, send me a message to discuss the assignment. If you’re looking for a job, good luck! Hope you find the perfect match soon.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021