Long before I wrote novels, I was a poet. In retrospect, I'm amazed at how easily I could fill a page with stanza after stanza. It took time to develop, but the poems progressed from what would rhyme to what would bleed just the right shade of true. My poetry led to hurtful, terrible and cathartic things. Words were raw and emotional in ways I never knew they could be.
Those poems pull me back to the time and events that they were borne from. I remember the exact person that inspired each. I can sometimes even remember the exact night they were written. That’s powerful stuff.
Words, in their inherent singularity, are powerful. One word can command meaning, history, and intention. They change and shape how we experience our human existence throughout time.
It's a challenge to capture the same bare-bones essence I once had in writing poetry. I’m too used to telling a story in pages, not lines. Heavy-worded and wanting to explore each step of a character’s journey, I often lose the contrite honesty of trim writing.
Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, novels or short stories, practicing poetry is an excellent skill for all writers. It will improve the preciseness of your writing.
How do you say the most with the fewest?
Here's an exercise to help you boil the most important elements of an idea down into its richest concentration. Throw some words down from this exact moment of your existence and make each one count. Do it fearlessly, because there’s no judgment between you and the page.
*Describe the chair you’re sitting in in six words. How about two?
*Describe the person in your chair (yes that’s you—maybe its two of you—I don’t judge) in six words. How about two?
*Describe the best day of your life in six words or less:
*Describe the worst:
Pull together your words and weave a thread through them. Cut the unnecessary. Don’t take too long. Time censors out the good stuff. Here's what I came upon. Leave yours below in the comments if you’d like.
Hard, backless bench,
Tortures my worn-raw soul
Sitting, reflecting, amid the toddling tutus,
Where it all began.
I pushed, relentless, just to hear you cry.
Now I push, relentless, to help you soar.
Because I have fallen so hard,
I stretch myself to be your net.
Shameless Plug Alert: For those of you interested, I will be signing (and selling) copies of my novel, Fixing Destiny on May 24th at 2:00 pm at Old Firehouse Books in lovely downtown Fort Collins. I would Love to see you all there!