Learning more about the craft of poetry
When I create, write, and redraft my poems, I sometimes think I need some direction and further inspiration. For me it’s not enough to get my ideas on paper or screen, I also want to constantly improve and sharpen my style and content.
This year I thought I would like to get some creative writing courses under my belt. A lifelong friend of mine had recommended the online learning platform, Udemy, for courses on all sorts of subjects. She told me that she had been successful with training and learning through the platform and so this convinced me to give it a go. In February I booked myself onto their Complete Creative Writing course which covers fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction writing. I found it a brilliant universal course that was well-paced and refreshingly non-condescending. It was instead inspiring, fun, and engaging. On the course I ran over some old ground but then encountered fresh territory as well. When I had completed the course I felt a great sense of achievement and a new wave of enthusiasm for my writing.
Here are 5 areas where I felt the course improved my writing:
It urged me to write every day. It seems obvious if you are any kind of writer, poet, or author. But having the impetus, energy and above all inspiration to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is sometimes easier said than done. Maybe there’s constraints on time for some, even in these mixed-up Covid times. But when you get down to the basics, penning or typing anything is better than not doing it. The mental buzz as the words come forth is unmistakable; the reward of forming verse or prose is unmissable.
If I have an idea I explore it from as many angles as possible. I now have a new perspective on 'perspectives'. One of the brilliant aspects of the creative writing course was that it got me into the habit of seeing topics from a wide variety of points of view. It's easy to go along just writing in the first person. Much more challenging to try the third person or even the second. It's grasping that challenge and not being afraid to widen the scope. The original view can still be the best one but if you don't try out some others how will you ever know if any of them properly fit.
I did know this already, but the course reinforced the need to keep editing my work. Not to ridiculous or negative levels, but just the right kind of editing that would coax the best from my poetry writing. I've found it is very worthwhile putting away drafts for a while and then returning to them in rotation. Fresh eyes and all that. When I do revisit words, lines, and meanings within, often I can be more objective. I'm also as ruthless as I can be. Better to start off with an embarrassment of too many metaphors, similes etc, than not enough. That way I can stand back and know I've worked on a piece thoroughly and thoughtfully.
Leading on from the editing process I have now discovered I am a better judge and critic of my work. As I'm forming my poems, I consider my audience more than ever. I always strive to be genuine and to think how each concept I describe will come across. Being critical isn't negative, I think of it more as being practical. I'd rather nit-pick before I publish and know that I've honed the words as finely as I can, than throw them out to an audience without proper scrutiny. There's such a thing as a healthy balance though and I am always mindful of extreme self-criticism.
Every now and then it's a good move to change tack and seek out different styles of poetry. On the course I was encouraged to try out haiku, sonnets, and narrative styles, amongst others. I wouldn't say I was a natural at the first two, but I gave them a shot (as practice tasks anyway). I do favour the narrative style of writing, it's where I feel at home and can set up some interesting stories for my audience. There was another type of writing I was intrigued by as well, using onomatopoeia. Top word, not easy to spell though! If you can imagine what dripping water sounds like, for example, and use words that evoke the image and noise, it can prove immensely powerful. Varying styles can revive memories and bring them alive so much more too.
Writing seems to be an ever-evolving medium, and for that I am incredibly grateful. I would always recommend trying out creative writing courses (preferably ones that don't cost too much either) and choose one that offers a certificate into the bargain. It's always worth doing some thorough research to see if there's one that is specifically designed to suit your writing skills and needs. I have only learnt more and grown in confidence after taking that particular course. It's all noted and recorded in a neat folder, ready to refer to whenever I need.
I hope you've found this post useful and please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss more on the subject.
Happy creative writing and learning!