Prose Slam

Make Writing Your New Year’s Resolution

By: Breany L. Pfeifer

Happy New Year!

Ringing in the new year is a great way to start 2018 off on the right foot. With that being said, what are your goals for 2018? More specifically, what are your writing goals for this fresh new year?

As writers, it is important to set valuable and realistic goals for yourself. You may often have peers, mentors, instructors, or other writers tell you to “write every day,” and they are right. What better way is there to improve your writing besides practice?

I get it; it’s not easy to feel inspired to write every day, and it may be difficult to find the time. However, writing is a great way to relieve everyday stress, and is an amazing way to vent or escape reality. Consider making writing each day your new year’s resolution.
Here are five things to help you keep writing—whether it’s journaling, writing poetry, making short stories, or writing a full novel:

1. Set a daily word count. Whether its 500 words or 2000 words. Give yourself a challenge, but keep it realistic. If you know you don’t have time to write 1,600 words per day, set your goal to 700, and don’t stop writing until you reach that number.

2. Make a specific writing time, and find a comfy place. Perhaps you have free time at 6:00 p.m. every day. Spend that time writing non-stop, until you feel ready to be done. Also, find a spot to write. Whether it’s in your living room, kitchen, the coffee shop down the street, or your roof (be safe up there), find an inspiriting location you love, and make it your writing space.

3. Don’t push yourself too hard, but stay persistent. As previously stated, make sure your goals are realistic, but challenging. If you find writing 500 words per day too easy, bump up to 700 or 1,000. Challenge yourself to write in a genre outside of what you usually write. For example, if you normally write fiction, try a day of poetry. You could even spend a day revising some of your previous work. Whatever you do, don’t stop writing!

4. Determine what plotting method works for you. This doesn’t only apply to only story or essay writers. Poets can choose a “topic” to write about. This is when you must ask yourself: “Do I prefer to create outlines and plot out my work? Or, do I want to put the pen on paper and let my hand and mind soar freely?” Knowing which method you use may help you create your best work.

5. Surround yourself with other writers. You don’t have to know New York Times Bestselling authors to find yourself some writing buddies. Look for a local workshop group, or a writer’s group on Facebook to make some new friends. Find a workshop pen-pal to share your work with and discuss ideas. If you’re a student, join a writing club. If you already know some other writers, take the initiative and invite them to have coffee one day and talk about writing. Getting involved in a writing community will inspire you to do more with your creations.


Poetry: Tips for Reading Aloud

Band from Montreal

You’ve written it, revised it, revised it again, let it sit for a while, then revised one last time, and now you’re finally ready to share your poem. That open mike night can seem pretty intimidating, though, if you’re not sure how to read your poem out loud. Here are some tips for reading your poem in front of an audience:


  1. It’s a good idea to practice reading your poem five times, ten times, or even twenty times if you need to. Even if you wrote it yourself, it still can be difficult to cold-read a poem. You need to get to the point where you’re comfortable with the line breaks and the syntax – you don’t want to be surprised by your own enjambment, after all. Try reading it silently first, then when you feel you have gotten familiar with the movement and rhythm of your poem, start practicing reading it aloud. The more practice you get in, the more comfortable you’ll feel reading it in front of others.
  1. Read your poem to some friends. Once you’ve got the poem down, have some family or friends listen to your performance. Have your friends give you feedback about how your voice is carrying, how your speed is, and whether there were any parts of the poem that they missed or couldn’t understand. They can help you modify your delivery to make certain the poem’s nuances come across clearly to your audience.
  1. Make a clear, easy-to-read copy of the poem from which to read. Enlarge the font if you need to, put it in a binder if that is something that might help you stay organized. Even if you’ve practiced so much that you have the poem practically memorized, it’s easy to have a panicked moment once you’re in front of a crowd, and having a good visual aid can make all the difference.
  1. Remember to make eye contact. If you have practiced well, you shouldn’t need to stare at your copy of the poem the entire reading. The audience wants to be entertained, to be engaged with the reader on the journey of the poem, rather than just being read to. Make sure that when you read, you glance down at the page to check your place, then look around at the audience. Make eye contact, even for a microsecond, with multiple audience members before glancing back at your page(s) again. Not only does it make you seem more present in the room, but it makes you appear more confident.
  1. Try to relax – it’s going to be fine. No one’s career ever ended because of one bungled line, or because they got a coughing fit in the middle of a reading. It’s not like Evening at the Apollo – the audience isn’t waiting for you to fail, but rather is hoping you will succeed. Reading in front of an audience can be nerve-wracking, but if you’ve practiced and if you let yourself enjoy the poem, you’ll have the pleasure of sharing that enjoyment with your audience.


Young woman singing


Want to hear some great readings? Here are some lists:

The 10 Best Recordings of Poets:

Famous Poets Reading Their Own Work:

10 Celebrities Reading Famous Poems:

Button Poetry on YouTube:

Poetry Out Loud:


Interwoven Reading Series

Featured Image: UNO Gateway

On March 9th, 13th Floor Magazine and the UNO Bookstore invite you to join them in the Durham Science Hall’s Mallory Kountze Planetarium for the next installment of the Interwoven Reading Series. Doors open at 3:30PM, and the readings begin at 4:00PM. Our university’s very own published authors D.S. Hudson, Kelsey Bee, and Michelle Lyles will present their selected works. Indulge yourself in local, creative minds as we give these authors a platform to present their works to a public audience.

Mockup_SP2016Inside the Planetarium, the audience will experience some of what the Planetarium has to offer visually, while listening to well-voiced authors. We look forward to filling the room and will have complimentary snacks for all guests! We can’t wait to see you there, and our authors cannot wait to perform their work for you.

700 Words Prose Slam This Wednesday!

logosidebarWe would like to start off my thanking everyone for their recent submissions.  We are looking forward to reading through them and creating our third issue.  The time you spent working on your submissions on top of all the other responsibilities is appreciated, as it keeps our literary magazine vibrant and filled with student talent.  While we’re waiting for the editing process to be completed, there are plenty of other opportunities to maintain involvement in the writing community at UNO.

This coming Wednesday, April 23rd, the 700 Words Prose Slam is taking place at the Benson Pizza Shoppe at 7:30 pm.  Many members of the Writer’s Workshop program will be attending as well as participating.  The readings will be flash pieces, no more than 700 words or fiction or non-fiction.  Each participant will bring two pieces of original work for the two rounds.  The first round will consist of 15 students reading their first piece and the second found will be narrowed to 4 students.  Each participant will pay an entry fee of $5 which will be given back to the first, second, third, and fourth place winners as prize money.  The first, second, and third place winners will also win a publication in 13th Floor Magazine!  The best part is, anyone is welcome to participate.  The first 15 students will be accepted, so please arrive by 7:10 to enter your name.

The Benson Pizza Shoppe, a local restaurant with great food and weekly drink specials is perfect for homegrown talent to share their work.  The frequently host plenty of other events worth checking out as well.  Bring your friends and fellow writers to this exciting evening of literary talent!  Hope to see you all there!

Prose Slam Winners to be Published in 13th Floor Magazine


From left to right: Alexandria, Chyna, Andy, and Jennifer

Wednesday night was the bi-annual Prose Slam, held at The Pizza Shoppe Collective in Benson (yum!) and hosted by Writer’s Workshop faculty Lisa Sandlin and Sarah Mason. Judges were Writer’s Workshop graduates. We had a great turnout, and 4 winners who will be published in the upcoming premier issue of 13th Floor Magazine! Everyone did an amazing job reading, and I didn’t envy the judges having to choose between them all to select a winner. Here are the official results:

4th Place: Jennifer Hickey

3rd Place: Chyna Jedlicka

2nd Place: Andy Oermon

1st Place: Alexandria Hodge


1st Place winner Alexandria Hodge

We will also be publishing some of the winning pieces here on, so be sure to watch throughout the summer. The Prose Slam is held once a semester in the spring and fall, and offers a cash prize to the top 3 winners. The first place winner also gets their picture in a place of honor in the Writer’s Workshop department. Enter this fall and you, too, could be a winning slammer!