Write Something Else To Write Better

Yesterday I was in a funk, a major funk. I tried writing in my book but nothing was coming that was of any worth. Some would say that I should power through, NaNo style. My girlfriend suggested a different track, write something else.

So I wrote poetry.

At first it was difficult figuring out what to write about. Writing poetry is just about as difficult as it can get since the number of themes and ideas to write about are limitless, much like starting a new book. For a while I struggled with the usual pandering about nature. Yay nature poetry, like that hasn’t been done before… But then I looked over a book that my girlfriend had bought me, it’s a poetical dictionary that I’ve written about here and I started to compose poems about words.

The point of the exercise was not to write a poem using the word. Rather, the point was to describe the word itself through a poem. It’s an interesting exercise to say the least. It demands a close reading of the denotation of the word along with its uses to get a grip on how it is used and in what context to set the word. I first settled on serotinal, meaning essentially the end of summer. It’s a lovely word, I liked how it sounded, and it’s just off kilter enough that people will have to look it up to get the full meaning of the poem.

It was a disaster. Not a full on disaster, but it sounded like an amateur poem. My girlfriend liked it though. But it did get the creative juices flowing again. I felt more like my old self when writing it and that in and of itself is important to getting back on track. The one thing that she later remarked was that it didn’t really sound like me. That was my problem to begin with, not sounding at all like my usual writerly self when writing.

I did it again.


This one I’m a little more proud of. I was thinking more like my old self when writing it and words flowed more easily than before. I wasn’t struggling with language to describe what I wanted, it just came out and flowed how I would like it to flow. Though serotinal was a disaster waiting to happen, this one brought me back. It was hard, I labored a bit on it, but in the end I liked how it ended up. At the end, I was still in a funk, but I felt more like myself and I felt like I had at least accomplished something for the day in terms of writing.

It also made me pay closer attention to the words that I was using. Not just in a rhyming sense, because I do use some rhyming couplets, but in how I thought about what it was that I was describing. It wasn’t just word salad that managed to make sense to the untrained eye, it was something composed. It’s something lacking in most of my work, a lack of fine detail. Going back and preparing to edit one of my books over January, I’ll rely more on writing poems like this, ones that are easy to find subject matter for, and bring my mind around to the close reading mindset needed to edit.

In case you’re interested, this is Scabrous:

Trails that have become knotted,

Too many intersecting lines,

Bungled layers of twine,

Pulling apart is impossible.


Dimpled with dots,

Dots so fine,

Invisible to the eye,

But felt by a hand.


To dirty to print here,

Lines that would barely make print,

One google search would give you a hint,

I’ve said too much already.


One response to “Write Something Else To Write Better

  1. Pingback: Not A Fan Of Poetry? | jameswilliaml·

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