Liz Newman is the author of Hope Between Heartbeats, a writer, a blogger, and a book reviewer. Here, Newman dishes on her relationship with her readers, what surprised her most about poetry, and how she navigates through the industry as a blogger and poet.
Her poetry is uplifting in a raw and refreshing way. Newman’s language is effortlessly empowering, which is exactly what we need more of in the world. Brace yourself to be enlightened by this one — listen and learn.
little infinite: How did you discover poetry? Describe when you knew poetry would be the form for you.
Liz Newman: I have always really loved reading and writing ever since I was a kid. I used to write quotes, poems, and song lyrics in the margins of my agenda books at school. I absolutely loved any assignment that had to do with creating stories or poems. I loved the work of Emerson, Thoreau, Edgar Allan Poe, Shakespeare, and several others. I knew that I was falling in love with poetry when I started checking out library books of poetry to read in my spare time. I couldn’t get enough! Reading poetry quickly transitioned to writing my own, and it helped me navigate my world as I was growing up.
li: The language in your poetry is extremely empowering with sentiments of forgiveness, self-love, growth, and learning. In today’s climate, this is especially appreciated. What types of discussions has this prompted from your audience?
LN: I think it has opened up discussions about what self-love looks like and how we can learn to forgive ourselves and others as we grow. In today’s society of social media, we often see the filtered and edited aspects of people’s lives instead of the raw and relatable. I try and welcome conversations with my readers about how we all struggle with things, and while our stories may be different, there is a lot of common ground there as well. We can grow, learn, and heal together when we are honest about our struggles and our experiences. It brings people together in such an amazing way. It is so humbling to me when I have readers reach out and say that I have helped them get through a tough time or address something they were feeling and didn’t have the words to express. That’s what it’s all about: love, compassion, and grace while we all heal in our own ways.
“It is so humbling to me when I have readers reach out and say that I have helped them get through a tough time or address something they were feeling and didn’t have the words to express. That’s what it’s all about: love, compassion, and grace while we all heal in our own ways.”Liz Newman
li: What is your creative process like? Do you write on the spot or set aside time? Do you have a certain environment you write in? What inspires you to keep writing?
LN: Honestly, the creative process is constantly changing depending on the day. But, my favorite thing to do is write near a window or out on my back patio. Nature is such an inspiration to me and it serves as a perfect backdrop for creative writing. I also am typically accompanied by my two dogs who like to keep me company while I write. Other days, I will just jot things down in a notebook or even in the notes section of my phone. Inspiration can strike at any moment, so I try to embrace it when it does, whether it’s during planned or unplanned time. Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments inspires me to keep writing. I think there’s something in every day that can inspire future poetry.
li: What is the most surprising aspect of writing poetry that you didn’t anticipate? What has been your biggest challenge? Are you still working through this or how did you push through that challenge?
LN: The most surprising aspect of writing poetry has been the ability to share it with people from literally all over the world. It is incredible how we can interact with people from so many different backgrounds and places.
I think the biggest challenge has been creating an online presence. Social media platforms are giving us such a unique opportunity to connect with people and to share our work, but it can be overwhelming sometimes. It’s a vulnerable space because so many people can see your work and comment immediately. It’s great and also humbling to be able to receive instant feedback on your work. It can be a competitive space and sometimes can feel very intimidating. But in those moments, you just remind yourself to stay true to what you have to say and to keep on posting and creating content.
li: In addition to writing poetry, you also are a blogger. What introduced you to blogging and have you always been interested in writing in general?
LN: I’ve been blogging for several years now. When I first started out, I wrote about fitness and lifestyle as that has always been a big part of my life as well. As time went on, I found my stride more with writing about life, love, and relationships. I have written for sites like Puckermob, Thought Catalog, and A Better Today Media. I now blog primarily for Re:ad Poetry, and that has been such a huge blessing. I have always loved writing and to have the opportunity to share my work on multiple platforms over the years has been so incredible. I’m very grateful for it.
li: What do you find the biggest contrast in practicing your craft for poetry vs. writing for a blog is? Has blogging affected your poetry or vise versa?
LN: The biggest contrast is probably the structure of the content. Blogging can feel very conversational, and I can write long paragraphs about a subject. Poetry takes time and constant editing to get structure and imagery right. They are both very rewarding, but they require different mindsets, so I often will sit down to blog or sit down to write poetry as I need to mentally switch gears for each one.
But, I think that blogging and poetry complement each other well especially since my recent blog posts are typically about poetry. It keeps me immersed in that world and community. I get to talk to readers and writers alike, and it is a great way to keep the inspiration flowing while I work on my own poetry as well.
li: What is your advice to people who may be intimidated to start experimenting with writing? Or for the people who love writing but are fearful to put their writing out there for people to see?
LN: My best advice for people would be to just jump in and start. You don’t have to share it publicly right away. Just put pen to paper and do it often. And, if you’ve ever gotten that little jolt of excitement and adrenaline at the thought of sharing your work someday, I would definitely encourage you to go for it. It IS scary, and it is vulnerable. But, it’s also very liberating. Not to mention, your work may be exactly the words that someone really needed to hear in their situation. At the end of the day, putting your writing out there is a very personal decision. But, if you decide to do it, do it for you, and do it when you’re ready. It is such a rewarding experience and can be so good for your growth as a writer.
“It IS scary, and it is vulnerable. But, it’s also very liberating. Not to mention, your work may be exactly the words that someone really needed to hear in their situation.”Liz Newman
li: What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received? Why has this piece of advice stood out to you as a writer?
LN: The best piece of advice I have received is to stay consistent, don’t let rejection derail your efforts, and stay true to your unique voice. It is challenging at times, but it is worth it to take the time to make real connections with your readers and build a loyal following gradually. Impatience eats away at all of us from time to time, but when that happens, try to remember why you write and what you hope to accomplish with your words. Renewing your perspective can often times help bring your eyes back to your goal and remind you who you are as a writer. Lastly, poetry, just like any art, can be very subjective. Be open to constructive criticisms, but don’t let rejections or critiques keep you from doing what you love.
“Impatience eats away at all of us from time to time, but when that happens, try to remember why you write and what you hope to accomplish with your words.”Liz Newman
li: What do you hope to see your writing turn into in the future? What is your creative bucket list?
LN: I would love to continue creating more poetry and immersing myself in the community. Someday, I would also love to try my hand at writing a novel. This has always been a quiet dream of mine that I would love to make happen someday. It would likely be a coming-of-age story or a love story. I love when you can relate to characters and root for them like they’re long lost friends. I’d love to create that for someone someday.