I love to research. I am, in fact, a nerd. Researching in old dusty libraries–yes. JSTOR? Double yes.
This is not everyone’s cup of tea.
However, if it is yours…and I find that writers tend to be a sort of curious group…perhaps this can help you with your writing.
My tip for today is to mine your curiosities (and obsessions!). What are you thinking about a lot? Listening to podcasts about? Reading books about? Perhaps, like me, you may have a range of things catching your interest right now (mine are Puritans, Pokemon, MFK Fisher, Wendell Berry-esque homesteading).
So, let’s take Pokemon for example (gotta catch them all). Let’s say you are interested in all the different little creatures, and how did they think of so many, and what inspired the show, and why are some of them really close to animals but some are more human like, and isn’t that weird for a trainer to train the more human like ones (like Mr. Mime)?
Research the crap out of all that stuff! Then start writing poems about it. And maybe you write like three pokemon poems, and it’s over. Obsession faded, something else prettier walks by.
But maybe not! Maybe you write 100 poems about Pokemon! And you start sending them to journals, and you make a collection, and all of a sudden you have a poetry book “Gotta Catch Them All!” that wins some hoity toity prize.
And it all started with your obsession. Actually — your curiosity. So want to write more? Get curious!
I think one of the biggest hindrances to getting writing done isn’t a busy schedule, work, time, kids, money….I think that it is getting too worried about what other writers are doing.
So, my tip today is to Keep Your Eyes on your OWN WORK.
Working on my collection of poetry Church Ladies, I sometimes would read through poets who do similar work (persona poems from the perspective of women of faith…it is a little niche), and then that little nagging voice says “oh why even write this, This Poet does it better!”.
Let’s be totally honest: maybe they do.
However, they don’t do it the Same.
Unless you are straight-up plagiarizing them, you do have a unique voice that will come through on the topic, whether you want it to or not. I’m a believer that voice doesn’t have to be found so much as it needs to not be suppressed.
So when you are finding it difficult to write because So-and-So and their perfect iambic pentameter on the exact subject you write about in less than perfect somethingmeter, just stop it. Stop it! Turn off the social media, skip out on workshop (if you aren’t in a class that is), and just buckle down to work on your own stuff. Maybe take some time to read poets who have completely different obsessions from your own writing. Then write like you believe your voice is worth hearing too.
Moon-mouthed, I am
of a set. On the shelf, orderly
as sisters in church.
Each bone-white, handled,
an eye held open,
to be filled. Chosen,
poured into, lips meet
my rim. I brim,
a hand around me,
through me, and I hold
what I am given.
Offering up my sweet
entirety. Until emptied again,
to a dish towel’s