As writers, we intrinsically strive to hone our craft.
But it is not always so easy to grow.
We look at our writing and we feel accomplished (maybe even pleased), but of course, we are aware that we are not perfect.
So how do we get better?
No matter if you are just starting out or if you have been writing for years, the following 5 tips can help you evolve.
The first step to writing-growth is consistency.
You want to get yourself in the habit of writing to such a point, that it becomes a natural part of your day.
As I expanded on in “Write, Write, Write,” the amount of time that you set aside to write is inconsequential.
Even if you only write for 5 minutes a day, you’ll find over time that your mind will be more prepared to be creative when you sit down to write.
Soon, writing will become like breathing: vital and thoughtless.
Once you have inculcated writing time into your schedule, you can start your research.
That dirty, little, 8-letter word that make most creative types cringe.
But really, when you are a writer and when you are a poet, you no longer have the luxury of reading “just for fun.”
Reading is your way to scope out the market, keep tabs on your competition, and most importantly, learn.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
If a poem speaks to you, take the time to discover why.
Think about what you liked about the work: was it the delivery, the message, the symbols used, etc.?
I like to have a running list of techniques that I come across, so that when I get into an experimental mood, I have some ideas to toy with.
This is where Step 2 begins to really factor into your work.
By this step, you should have done your research and should have a general understanding of the elements that you like in poetry.
Now it is time for you to consider which of those elements you already use and which ones you do not.
If you use similar techniques in your writing, are they more or less successful than in the poems that you have been reading?
If your execution is less successful, investigate why. Try to mimic what you read and what you have seen and try to incorporate it in your next poem.
Through your investigative journey, you will come across approaches and artistry that differ from your own.
Now is the time to experiment.
Try something new.
This experimentation does not need to be done in your main project. In fact, I would advise against it (because it can cause inconsistencies in the greater work).
I have a separate notebook for trials and experiments to see how (and more importantly if) these alterations fit into my writing voice.
If your execution is more successful, see if there are ways to incorporate this change more permanently in your writing.
Then we wash, rinse and repeat.
Search for other elements from your research that you can try out in your writing.
Sharing your work is one of the most important, yet one of the most under-rated ways to grow as a writer.
Not only can sharing your work give you an opportunity to get valuable feedback from the audience of your genre, but it can also provide you with that crucial boost of confidence.
Of course, you do not want to share your work frivolously.
You want to select a small handful of trusted individuals whose opinions you value and respect.
At the same time, you don’t want to surround yourself with a group of thoughtless cheerleaders either.
Your review team or your writing support group should provide you with honest feedback.
They should be able to tell you exactly what worked and what did not work in your writing.
Once you can identify your weak-spots, you can go back to Step 2 and work yourself back to Step 5.
Before you Go
Now you might be thinking “these steps are all well and good, but where is the evidence? Where is the proof that this system works?
Hold your horses.
Many famous and successful poets have made use of this method, romantic poet John Keats, for example.
Keats started his career by emulating poets that he admired like William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
If you study the work of these three poets, you can actually pick out elements from Wordsworth and Coleridge’s work in Keats writing.
But like any artist, Keats began to shift from emulation to creation. He began to develop his own style and his own voice, until he became one of the poetic greats.
1.) Writing is an expressive art. Don’t be afraid to splay your feelings on the page.
2.) Even though writing is a personal hobby, it is also a community effort. The critiques that you may receive are not personal, but are made so that you can grow.
3.) Don’t take every critique to heart. Use the knowledge that you’ve learned from your research to determine which changes you should make to your work.
4.) Growth is a slow and meticulous process. Your writing will not get better over night. You have to work hard and remain dedicated to your art.
5.) Have fun!