Saturday, September 14, 2013

To Writers Who Don't Think They Can Write Poetry

Again and again I hear writers say, "I can't write poetry." or "Poetry just isn't for me." and I can't help but think that they are blocking a creative tool that could actually enhance their writing. Possibly blow the doors right off the hinges. 

Crossing over to the other side.
I talked to writers on the Story Dam chat on Twitter last Thursday night and I decided I wanted to share with you what I shared with them. Of course I have expanded on it further.

Writers stick with me, you just may discover something you can use.

As a writer even if you don't believe in writer's block things can get stale and you can feel like the words just aren't streaming as they were before. 

That is when I believe changing it up to break down the walls to writing & poetry can come in handy.
I have discovered that whether I am writing a novel, memoir, or poem it all comes down to getting the words onto the page. Whatever it takes to fill the blank page and for me it takes changing it up. Yes, okay I get bored. For me if I do the same things day in and day out I get bored to tears and want to do something else. That is why having a strict schedule doesn't work for me. I rebel against them over and over.

Changing it up can be anything. For some it can be changing the scenery of where you write - to what you
Light filled flowers.
write with. For others like me I have to change what I am writing all together. That's where poetry comes in.

I have been dabbling in poetry since April of 2012 (yes I wrote poetry before then but few and far between; mostly in high school). I didn't want to be a poet. I wanted to be a writer. I want to write magical mysteries and memoir but I kept getting stuck. I know that fear has a lot to do with it but writing poetry has given me an avenue to write through the fear in bits and pieces. And though Natalie Goldberg will tell you writing is not suppose to be therapy it has been, and still is, very therapeutic for me. If you doubt me check out my blog and read some of the Angry Poetry I recently wrote.

If you are still reading that means that somewhere inside of you this is making a little sense. You may even have hit the same walls that I have hit quite a few times. 

Last October I decided to dive into poetry head first and created OctPoWriMo because, as my Muse knows, I can't do anything halfway. It was within that month that I started really touching on deeper issues around my writing. Yes, poetry was helping me see deeper into my writing. It allowed me to write shorter pieces filled with angst, anger, rebellion, love and light (as anyone that has read my book has discovered). 

I was still coming up blocked in my other writing. Oh I was writing but fear was still stopping me, telling me I wasn't good enough, telling me it was a bunch of crap. Of course it was crap, I'm still new at all of this writing stuff. 

Playing with magnetic poetry.
Recently I started reading more poetry, reading it out loud, and pushing myself to write poetry on a regular basis. That's when I decided to build up my tool bag for poetry. I figured if I was going to be a poet (no halfway remember) I should have all the tools that I need. That is when I decided to get poetry magnets.

There is a place that I am taking you with all of this so please stick with me.

I have been using poetry magnets for my poems ever since I bought them. I knew I was going to like them but I had no idea how helpful they’d be. 

They allowed me to look at words differently & have different words in front of me to choose from; to really play with words.

What does that have to do with writing stories you ask? A poem is a story but in a much shorter form and
often w/rhythm or rhyme, but not always. It can be verse, free form, and many other forms that are out there that you can find on that are easy (mostly) and samples from this century. 

My first poem in years, Beauty Denied, (it was a picture of a floating flower that inspired it) was basically a really short story. The only thing I did was count syllables.
Morning chai and writing. 

Flower raised
Light in her eyes
Smiling face
Opening to Love
Shot rang true
Slow to fall
Last breath expressed
Beauty denied
Blood trail out
Floating Flower
Eyes looking up
Gone the light

Honestly the possibilities are endless but think about this - I have found just the act of writing more poetry the juices are flowing faster for all of my writing. 

Yes, I am writing more on my current manuscript and I actually can see myself finishing it within the next few weeks to a month.

Writers, I am giving you a challenge. If you have been having trouble with your own manuscripts, take a break and join us for OctPoWriMo. Who knows maybe you will have a break through like I am having.

If nothing else you can change things up and use it to explore within your stories. Feeling stymied on a character, write a poem for their feelings, their struggle, their pain. 

Don’t have poetry magnets, get a magazine & start cutting out words until you have a pile of words to play with. It is amazing what happens when you have words to choose from in front of you. Especially when they aren't words that you use on a regular basis. See what it opens up for you. No I am not telling you to paste them down, this is for playing with the words to inspire your writing to go in different directions.

Heck if you want to, go through the dictionary and write down all the words that pop out at you and then cut them up into individual words.

Don't let past writing issues, poetry issues, stop you from exploring and opening up your writing in new ways. You may not be a poet, but that doesn't mean you can't play with your words.


  1. I really like this idea and I'm going to get myself some poetry magnets. Poetry for me means freedom. Free form is my favorite and I just think that the medium allows for looser interpretation and and more versatility. It's a welcome way to change things up definitely.

    1. I don't know if I have a favorite form, so far I have loved exploring quite a few different forms. I am rather fond of the Cinquain. I do a lot of free form but sometimes I think it is because I don't want to take the time to do a structured type. Especially if I am feeling particularly rebellious. =)

  2. I've written poetry most of my life. When I started writing lyrics for my husband, a musician, we found two problems. One was that I wrote every thing in iambic pentameter which limited his musical choices. The other wa that I wasn't being consistent with my lines from verse to verse, which is necessary for a lyric (at least for him). I started trying to vary my poetic meter so necktie use different musical meters.

    I have trouble writing without motivation. OctPoWriMo was great because the challenge gave me motivation and the prompts gave inspiration. Really looking forward to this year.

    1. That's interesting about the differences in your writing poetry and lyrics for your husband.

      Glad to have you back for another round of OctPoWriMo! We hope to give you lots of motivation this year!

  3. A form that attracts me is acrostic. Picking out the word and writing it vertically gets my creative mind going. It is what I am going to use for the challenge. I have thirty specific words in mind to use.

    1. I enjoy acrostic as well but I also love exploring other forms. One of my favorite poems that I wrote, Lipstick, is an acrostic.

      I look forward to reading your acrostic poems and the direction you take them in.