The fabled writing process, everyone has one, or one they prefer at least.
My own process keeps me sane, keeps me trying, and ultimately makes my work better. That’s what I’m going to explore in this entry.
I’ve found, that in the past spending a few moments considering what my process is has made for better poetry. It prevents me trying to force myself to fit molds that aren’t mine, which so far when I’ve tried has led me down paths of frustration. Having the desire to write a poem, and then destroying the will to write is a terrible thing.
Preface: Before I start exploring, it isn’t fair to say I have one writing process, I have several – the aim of this post is explore my writing process for poetry, I will do another blog entry in regards to writing literature.
So what is my poetry writing process?
The specifics change, depending on the situation, locale, and the style of poetry. However, we’ll proceed as if there aren’t any specific problems to deal with – and come back to those later.
- My first step is usually to find inspiration to write – usually kicked off by something, an event, a song lyric, a joke,or where I am. This isn’t necessarily inspiration what to write – just the inspiration to write. Who can waste a bench along the canal, the sun high in the sky, and just the odd wisp of cloud breaking up a beautiful blue sky?
- After that comes preparation, I need to find what I have on me, in pockets or bag, that I can write with. Most common for me when it comes to poetry is to write on paper. So, if worst comes to worst, I’ll use the back of a piece of paper – as long as it’s blank. Usually though, I have some form of notepad with me (either my trusty spiral bound notepad, one of my desk pads, or my little black book of story ideas). A pen comes in handy, usually I have travel with a couple. At home or work, these things are usually ready to hand.
- At this point, for me comes committal. Having gotten myself into a position to write – the desire must be there, so with pen in hand, I’ll say to myself, “I will write a poem now, no matter what”, I’m committed.
- Once I’m committed then I start sifting through as many random thoughts as I can seeking a subject, a goal, or something of inspiration. I will hoenstly go through dozens upon dozens of ideas, casting off, or embracing several as I go, until finally my pen moves.
- Now comes the first line – the first line for me is most important, generally it sets the theme of the poem. It also is most likely to form the base for any rhyming I do, it’s also the part I consider most important in grabbing a potential reader, I need to get them through the first section.
- Once the first line is written – a series of decisions have to made,
- Do I have a rhyme?
- Where does the rhyme reside?
- How long do I want this poem to be?
- How many sections or stanzas do I want?
- What am I evoking?
- From there, I write the first section or stanza, applying the rules. Often, say in the creation of a rhyming poem, I’ll be crossing out words and lines, and replacing them with something that rhymes better, or can have something later rhymed with it.
- From there, using whatever rules I’ve created in the first section, I complete more – always revising to get the best outcome for the rules to fit backwards, and to leave room to write more going forward.
- Once I’ve written the poem to it’s end, it’s time to read it through – at which point I squirm uncomfortably realising that this or that doesn’t really work. Time to start crossing things out, and replacing them with things that do work. This goes on until I’m finally happy what’s on paper is satisfactory.
- Next comes the typing up, this also involves further revisions, because reading it through, and re-typing it lead to different thoughts and feelings on my work.
- Finally, the process is complete, and I can post my poem somewhere, or just send it to a friend see if they like it (or it just sits in one of my books of poetry, and a folder .
So, that’s my poetry writing process in detail, it could be summarised as such (just all those presentations at school and college would do):
- First line
- First section
- Completion of draft
- Typing up
If I were really clever, I’d use a thesaurus to turn it into a mnemonic, however it’s not neccesary, this is simply my instinctive way of writing poetry.
Like I said everyone has their own process, and soemtimes we change it for certain reasons – if I’m taking part in a challenge, then chances are I already know the rules I need to follow to layout and finish my poem, if I’ve been pondering a certain poem for a while, say an epic, other steps change.
Also, if I am rhyming, and I want more than simple rhymes, chances are to hand I’ll want a dictionary, a rhyming dictionary, and a thesaurus, if i’m out and about – the review stages take place at home, where I have said books (or websites). Not being a natural rhymer, I couldn’t write rhyme without them – but I do love the occaisional rhyme.
I must admit, my process isn’t all that organised, it seems it when I write it here – but really, I just go from one step to the next, to me at the time it feels instinctive, and impulsive. I’ve tried to use other writing processes, to try and break away from the chaos that I feel as I write – but all that happens is I become frustrated, and lose interest in what I’m writing. That’s how I know how important have the most write, and most natural writing process is. You break it at your own risk – but maybe, if you take that risk – you’ll find a better more natural way for you to write.