How Poetry Can Strengthen Your Writing Craft
I love hearing new methods for improving the order and shape of sentences. It’s hard as you’re writing and editing to feel like you’re creating something that is new and unique and worthy of reading. Writer and editor, Amy Cowen, offers some practical types for getting the special rhythm and bright imagery of poetry into your prose and blog writing. Take it away Amy!
Professional novelists know the importance of reading everything that comes their way. They know that different styles and types of writing can improve their own and that poetry is a powerful form, from which a lot can be learned. Novelists are aware of that, but are bloggers and content creators? Most bloggers are completely unaware of how closely intertwined with poetry their craft is. They labor away; always trying to write the perfect copy, or put together an excellent article, without realizing that people have been selling emotions for centuries now. It is an unforgiving task, and one that wastes a whole bunch of their time!
Are you one of those writers? A lost-in-the-woods blogger or a content creator? A wordsmith who doesn’t realize that your job is to get your readers to feel, to sympathize, and to identify with your writing? If you are, then you are not doing your job properly, or at least, you are not utilizing every gun you have at your disposal. So sit back, relax, and read on. It is time you’ve learned how poetry can help you become an awesome writer!
Make Your Writing Musical
Poetry excels in rhythm and meter. Every verse is musical, and every syllable is a piece of a song. There is a cadence to poems. That is why we feel them vibrating in our bones; they agree with our inborn need for order and pace. Your primary goal as a writer is to make your readers feel what you are talking about. Knowing how to keep the rhythm in every piece of your writing will allow it to resonate better with the reader. They will connect to it because it will trigger a reaction that is hot-wired to our bones. Read poems to understand how their beat connects to us on an emotional level and use that in your everyday writing. You won’t get it right every time, but when you do the results will amaze you.
Write for the Heart, not the Mind
Great writers know how to pull on those bleeding heartstrings, and poets are definitely good writers. Take a page from their book and make sure that you are writing to the senses. Anyone who’s ever been to a poetry class knows that the first thing you learn there is that you need to show stuff to your readers, not tell them. If your writing is full of imagery, it is easier to identify with it, to connect to it, and to be touched by it.
This type of writing doesn’t come naturally to everyone, of course. This is why it is important to take time out of your busy writing schedule and devote it to reading and writing poetry. Remember, practice makes perfect, and if you persist in it, writing for the senses will become as easy as breathing.
Mimic the Style
Poems dance to a different beat than any other type of writing. A whole different set of rules governs what is possible and what is not in that particular literary world. While it is impossible to translate everything into prose, try to mimic the style of a particular poem you like next time you are writing an article. Look at the words that the author is using. Try to gauge the rhythm and the intensity and do your best to transcribe it the piece you are working on. It’s not easy, but it’s well-worth it. Doing this will give your writing a different pace, it will focus your word choice and help you deliver your message more clearly and more succinctly to your audience.
Writers often feel tempted to use a cliché to describe a particular, well-known situation. We will find refuge in ‘busy as a bee’, in ‘blast from the past’ or any other overused construction that we feel is appropriate. Poets mostly steer clear of clichés because they are stale and old. Clichés bore your readers and demonstrate your inability to write innovatively. When you get an urge to pen down a cliché, go and read a poem. Think long and hard about how you can avoid it; playing with words and inventing something completely new is more interesting, both to you and your readers.
Abstract Words Diminish the Power of Your Writing
Happiness, peace, contentment, freedom – these are all abstracts that people can relate to, but that don’t strike that proverbial cord because they are always floating up there, they are not concrete. To the best of your ability, write using concrete words such as hot, cold, gritty, and rough; these are all words that describe things we can sense, things we can feel. It is much easier for a reader to connect to something that they can experience. Concrete words evoke images more easily and it is easier to paint a picture for your readers by using them.
Getting acquainted with poetry can be difficult, we’ll admit that. If you want to search poems by topic, visit this excellent page. It allows you to hone in on the precise topic you’re interested in, without having to spend a bunch of hours researching on the web or visiting your local library. Or go to Poetry Foundation, a page that features every imaginable poetry writer in the world. If a writer’s word has any substantial weight, you’ll find them on the Poetry Foundation, so don’t be shy to take a peak!
Also, if you find poetry intimidating, you can take an alternative route. A friend of mine is so frightened by poetry that she decided to tackle it head on, knowing that it is something that will get her where she wanted to be as a writer. Every now and then she picks up a familiar book and starts cutting out sentences and words from it. She then shuffles all of that around and starts creating poems. Granted, sometimes it pans out and sometimes it doesn’t, but the point is that she found a way to overcome her fear of poetry in a way that allows her to learn from her fear on an everyday basis. If you have the same fear, make sure to tackle it head on!
Poets can teach us a lot about human desires and emotions. Give them credit and remember; reading makes you a better writer – reading poetry makes you a more powerful writer.
Amy Cowen is a professional writer and editor. She writes about all things related to education and students’ life, but her main passion is poetry. Amy writes for the Aussiewriter blog and you can contact her there or on Facebook