For the next few posts, I’d like to share some of my recent discoveries, reflections, and experimental steps in my poetry writing process. My motives will become fully evident farther down the page.
Mainly, though, I heeded the principle I learned in teacher training that meta-cognition, or meta-writing—which is thinking about thinking, or writing about writing—would aid that process and improve my work. I know already that with a clearer, steadier process and better results, my motivation to keep working on my craft will also increase.
I hope you find this series insightful and enjoyable. I invite you to share your thoughts and resources throughout by commenting, reblogging, or tweeting me @Carrielt37.
The Verse Writing Process, Part I: Motivation
The impetus came from my participation in the free, online Writing 201: Poetry course through The Daily Post, for which I am extremely grateful.
For those of you not familiar with the course, here’s my brief description and evaluation:
The prompts were good, and I think writing prompts are a generally useful tool.
The presentation of the course, also good, involved each assignment addressing a new form, device, and topic.
The pace for poetry writing posed an interesting challenge to me. I was able to keep up with the daily assignments at first, but I found unrealistic the expectation of daily production as the difficulty increased and the assignments accumulated.
I understand that it was meant to be a crash course that encourages plunging in without too much forethought and certainly little to no focus on editing, but after completing Day 3, an acrostic poem about trust using internal rhyme, I had trouble achieving lift-off.
Still, forward motion did and still does occur thanks to my attentive participation in the course.
My Poetry Writing Background
For me, poetic phrases come readily once the pen has been roaming the paper for a bit. However, bona fide poems of any length or complexity, good ones, take time, thought, revision, and sometimes research or re-reading of established poets’ work for inspiration and guidance.
I have been trying my hand at poetry since age 10, and even into my early 20’s I could find myself clinging to the childish expectation that the poem would be finished and polished upon first drafting. Well, perhaps it was more of a hope than an expectation, but either way it meant I put minimal effort into revision, though I didn’t always see it that way at the time.
Granted, part of the reason may have been because I did not know quite how to go about revising a poem. Only very recently have I realized that revision may not have been the issue at all.
My interest in poetry sprang more from a love of words, their sounds, and how they can fit together than it did from creating a coherent, cohesive message through the poem. I explored ideas and sounds, but exploration, rather than communication, was the main goal. At times, I ventured into nonsensical territory intentionally and with gusto. At others, I just couldn’t separate sense from nonsense.
I suppose this is a natural phase to experience as a poet, but I felt inadequate in my college verse writing class and understandably dejected when my entries into poetry contests brought no recognition. Then, not long after college, verse writing became a much less frequent activity.
A Helping Hand
Unless you’re especially talented or highly skilled from long-term schooling and disciplined practice, no creative undertaking begins its creation being good nor ends up great on the first pass, and for many writers, the same can be said about their long-term development. That’s what makes an engaged, supportive writing community so beneficial, and sometimes instrumental, to a writer’s development.
For this reason, I am grateful to have found the blogging world, WordPress.com, and The Daily Post, among other resources. It’s just not the same to read writer’s magazines or books about writing for motivation, momentum, or inspiration. The dusty stacks of writing periodicals strewn about my home and the rows of unread writing books on my bookcase attest to this truth for me.
Those do have their place, certainly, but the interaction of an online or in-person writing course, forum, or group adds a critical element of weight, relevance, and, most of all, energy to the work.
Although I have opted not to force a daily product from the Writing 201 course on poetry via The Daily Post, the initial feedback and opportunity to read others’ work have boosted my confidence and motivation as the daily assignments take on the more passive resource role. These feelings have made the prompts seem as interactive as they first were, and certainly as useful.
? If you participated in the course, what did you think of it?
? What resources help you in your poetry writing?
Please share any thoughts you may have about the poetry writing process.
In the next post, On Process: Verse Writing, Part II: Developing an Idea, Trying a New Form, I’ll discuss what inspired me to delve at last into Day Five’s assignment to write an elegy related to fog using metaphor, as well as the realization that development, not just revision, could be a vital missing piece for my usual poetry writing process.