I'm interested in poetic process. I personally believe the real writing comes in the editing stage and that all first drafts, without exception, are abysmal. As a result, I edit and rewrite a piece multiple times over days and sometimes weeks before I deem a poem acceptable for public consumption. In fact, I worked on one particular poem for over a year before I was satisfied. Sometimes, it borders on obsession! How about you? What's your process?
That sounds about right ! I used to do that in the past but now most of it goes on in my head. The odd word combination or phrase comes with the idea and I sometimes write that down. The real change came for me when I thought about the structure of the poem, not the whole thing just a shape that was like the idea of the poem. Then when I write them down I try to crash on with it and wirte most of it if I can. And yes it is usually abysmal - but I try to keep at it for a while to get the main lines going and find the rythm that it seems to want. then I go through much the same process over either days or months !
I believe that finding some structure and then a rythm helps to pull the words out better - maybe becasue it excludes loads of word combinations and restricts the thinking to some kind of line length.
Good luck with it !
George Bernard Shaw had sent a letter that was 6 pages long, with a PS at the end of it:
"Sorry this letter was so long, I didn't have much time to make it shorter"
it's different for each poem I've written. I have one that took an entire summer with research, writing, editing.
some I've written in less than an hour.
most of them take a few days to a few weeks, sometimes I'll go back years later and change a few words, but I try not to change them.
I have a number still sitting with only a few sentences or words waiting for completion, but I always have a journal or pad of paper with me, wherever I go...even in the car. inspiration comes from anywhere at anytime.
To be perfectly honest I write my poems very quickly... I liken it to the pen doing the writing... I do a bit of editing but in general it is what it is and I don't agonize over it... when my mind is clear on what it is I'm feeling then it just goes without hesitation... otherwise I will abandon it. I have some poems that I started two years ago that I have left in a preliminary state because the idea or thought was extremely sketchy and apparently I'm not too inspired by it....
I tend to agree with Alternate Poet. I see something, or I remember something, from the past or present and I just have to write about it....It dances around in my head until I do. Sometimes I just scribble it down so the thoughts don't leave me. But once I sit down at my "Mac" everything just seems to go together. You have to do what works for you....everyone has their own technique.
I'm with you all on this one too. I'm an awful poet, but those few times I've gotten one that wasn't just some ridiculous mockery of poetry, it's been the work of weeks not hours. It's easy to look at a first draft and fall in love with your own cleverness or your passion. Art comes from discipline and the devotion to craft required to turn that first emotive lump into something beautiful. Most people don't get past the emotive lump, and their friends all encourage them, telling them, "Express yourself, that's what matters!" To say otherwise is to be called a snob.
How long does it take you to write a poem? From the time I begin it to the time it is finished. All poems I write are written in one sitting.
How much editing do you do? None.
I am author of four books. All the poems were written during a single breath. Editors are about to submit their views on revisions (to me were minor) and the author to accept them or not to accept them. Long-term aging of a poem and its juices dry after many edits is a brilliant piece of glass.
I am happy for you. I am not an author of poem/poetry, since my poems are not professionally published by some known authority.
However, I write my poems in one sitting and DO NOT edit them. Got it?
My poems remain as they are written. I see NO reason for F***ing with my written poems. It's written how I wanted it written, therefore no editing is required.
You're probably not trying to get them published either, which is why you don't bother editing them, am I right? Otherwise, you're saying they're already perfect on the first try? That's quite a claim. I think the only writer in history thus far, besides you, whose first drafts were printable was James Joyce.
It has been my experience that any (would be)artist who's that easily satisfied is not evolving. My advice to serious poets: Don't fall in love with your own words. It's the kiss of death.
I don't edit them, because they don't need to be edited. Regardless of whether or not I'm trying to publish them, which I am not.
I consciously write my poems/poetry in one sitting. I don't make a claim they are perfect or even up to someone's standards. I don't consider myself a poetry writer or a poet for that fact.
It's not a claim I make, I let the reader decide, based on what they take away from it. I just write it.
Happy for him.
I would say that's a misconception on your part.
I don't fall in love with any writing. So far, I've never been impressed with anyone's writing.
This is about right - the difference is whether they mean anything to anyone else, to the reader. If the reader does not matter then neither does the poem I would say.
Correct, if the reader gets it and accepts it, then alls good.
Of course - the issue then is whether it is poetry ?
Creative indifference. Something could be poetry but not seen as poetry.
The point is that 'what is poetry' is almost unanswerable but it is decided by the reader not the writer. If we write stuff it is transferring what we think to another whatever it is from a shopping list to an epic poem. I think it is generally agreed that poetry is a skill and an art form - prose can be an art form or mundane. If we write what floods onto the page it is prose that could possibly qualify as 'bad' poetry, in the eyes of the reader. Unless of course we are an unusual and 'great' poet but these are few and far between and I am sure neither of us qualify.
I'm sure I don't qualify, simply because I don't try. I just write.
I am quite surprised to popular opinion that poetry is a skill. The fact that there are several tips and courses in creative writing, the result of which is ably written poems, but no poetry. Moreover, history shows that many popular poets of his time are now completely unknown. I think it is wrong to read Brodsky's essays on these issues.
I agree - it is possible to learn to write how to write poems technically but it also requires an element of art to make a good poem.
The other posts here talk about flashes of inspiration and lines that come in a rush - it is putting these together with some skill that makes a good poem.
AS Annastephens says the first rushes are often the essence of hte poem - but they rarely make a good poem on their own - like a diamond they are better after being cut and polished. I would say that the fist rush is more art and the honing is the skill.
There is no doubt that writing successful poetry requires artistic discipline, literary skill, mastery of technique and some degree of talent. By successful poetry, I mean that which is unique, has voice, conveys a message, and possesses the ability to connect the poet's own experience to some degree with that of the reader. It doesn't happen automatically. It's the art of word-crafting and, like any other artistic or literary endeavor, it takes dedication and a lot of hard work if you are serious about your art.
Conversely, if you are not serious about it, then it can be anything you want it to be. You can call it poetry, but it probably doesn't qualify as such from a literary standpoint.
Me too Ray.
I write fast, be it poems or hubs,etc
not much need for editing either
But w/ poems, I don't pay attention to rhythm or meter or any "rules"
Alot of the time, my poems naturally have the right meter etc
For whatever it's worth, my poems are each written in one sitting, however long it takes. Usually a few minutes. My very, very first poem took 25 years from the day I conceived the first lines (Do you see what I hear, said the blind man to the deaf man - age 8 or 9) until I actually wrote it out.
My second poem was written in the school library when I was in high school. I skipped school, sat in the library at a cubicle and cried while writing my 1 page poem. It took all day - I didn't go to classes or lunch.
The poems I write now are much shorter, lol, and only take a few minutes to write. I don't edit, unless I see a misspelling.
I'm not a poet and don't pretend to be. I will, however, sometimes write some little poem (or a medium-length one) just to challenge myself by seeing a title and writing whatever poem I come up with. It takes me fifteen or twenty minutes, and the only editing I do may be changing one word here or there in some of them. :rolleyes" (Call me a "non-poet". That's what I call myself, ).
Abysmal or not, everything I write (poem, Hub, article, whatever else) is the first draft. I may spot a typo or two later and fix it, but that's it. Business or pleasure, it's the only way I can write. When I write for someone else I'm more than willing to make any changes, but people seem to be OK with what I've given them (and let me keep working for them). For me, there's a process that goes on during writing; and if I go back and start changing things I'll throw off the "plan" of what I want the words to do. If I have x amount of words I need to write, I have a system for that when writing. Still, everything that goes out (wherever it goes) is a first draft, proofread for typos. (With some things, I'll "incubate the idea" before writing, and that can mean the thing is almost already written. It's just a different approach. I don't think people should automatically believe a first draft is "always" abysmal. I have my share of "abysmal", but a lot of the writing comes out as good as if I'd changed it all around through editing.
I am not a poet, but what ever little I write comes out gushing.
I quickly get it down on paper, then work on the rhythm and language. I prefer to catch the emotion as it bursts out, sometimes it is overwhelming. I don't work too much on it, as I am afraid of losing the intensity and the flow of the poem.
Just thought I will say it, for whatever it is worth
i write in 2 minutes and never edit. i hate to edit so its a baddd habit.
A peom can take me anywhere from a few minutes to a few days; I do edit my work.
Well, I don't believe all first drafts are abysmal. I thik some of the most spontaneous creativity comes in the first draft. Not all of it is appropriate for that particular poem, but there can be flashes of brilliance in a first draft pouring out of your pen from your soul.
After that, there's a lot of work to be done, but those first drafts are the pure essence of what you want to say, not perfect, not polished, but beautiful in their raw, unrefined way.
I quite often keep large parts of my first drafts in the final poem, with a word altered here and there. A lot, of course, if redrafted and rewritten, but those first drafts should never just be dismissed. They are physical proof of what's going on in your head at that moment.
I do agree that there is raw emotion in the first draft-- I guess what I meant was the original sponsoring thought is like a diamond in the rough and the subsequent drafts provide the polish. Sure there is much to keep, but generally much to throw away as well. The real ideas are usually buried in the original draft and need to me mined. (at least it works that way for me)
I write tons in minutes. Contest and stuff like that don't want you having over 20 lines or so. I have written a 9 page poem in 30minutes though that I have now lost
If anyone's interested you can find me in the upcoming book Sunflowers & Seashells!
I'm a pretty fast writer and thinker so that's why it's never took me much time.
I am not the sharpest knife in the cutlery drawer,and don,t really understand all the different types of poetry.
My few attempts were just written as they came out the only editing was typos.
But then I don,t profess to be a poet, or a writer.Just someone having fun and hopefully learning as I go along
Oh nooooo, it's the poetry police, I love to write stuff, is it poetry? ,who knows . Sometimes though it takes a few moments sometimes an hour or more. Sometimes I come back days later to look at it with a new perspective. I do know my stuff gets a litle too "busy" in finality though. Is simple and short better ? Sometimes ,writing classes sound interesting. One thing I do , is read alot of others writings.
My poems are not serious, so sometimes i can bash them out at work as i'm laying bricks. Others are quite long with a constant theme and can therefore take a long time. One poem i had in mind for years then it suddeny came tumbling out. Interesting though isn't it how we all differ. Cheers
It takes as long as it takes. I can't remember writing anything that I didn't edit in some way. All of my poetry is written spur of the moment - when the muse strikes - but in the heat of writing, the important thing for me is to get it out. When I reread I might think of a word that expresses better what I'm trying to convey. And that's just talking about narrative poetry. If you're trying to write formal poetry - lyrical, sonnets, odes, haiku, eligys, ghazals, sestinas, villanelles, you name it, to me it's very confining and extremely challenging. All the old masters wrote that way. I guess they had poetry writing in school or something. Didn't narrative poetry - or free verse - start somewhere back in the 1940s or 50s? Poetry is a snapshot and every word counts so much. We used to be called bookworms, now we're word geeks.
You're absolutely right--in poetry, every word counts. Nothing extra allowed.
I have similar experiences to Anna. A poem wafts above my head and it's done in one sitting. A few words changed here and there, but the bulk of it stays in tact and it's done in an hour or two. Mind you, they are not that prolific, comes out of nowhere without warning.
narrative poetry is not free verse. it is one of oldest poetic forms of writing, dating back to The Epic of Gilgamesh. narrative poems tell a story, have a plot, somewhat like a short story.
some of the greatest, oldest poetry is narrative, like The Iliad and the Odyssey, Beowolf, The Divine Comedy.
I write raw and narrative poetry, I write it in ten minutes. But this comes in a blue moon.
Hi Cecilia, kumusta.
Hi PDH! i know what you mean, raw poetry is generated by strong emotion and powerful life events...it should happen in a blue moon because I don't think one can sustain that state of creative empowerment. This creative outburst comes from deep wells of the consciousness and if that's stirred, the impact is not only a 10 minute poem. It is usually is transformative.
Is deep emotion the author of poetry? I know of some old masters that would differ with you on that but then they are too dead to talk to. I wish there was a category in the poetry subject headings for free verse as most of my work usually falls under that as I haven't studied forms very well but I have found that an analytical look at verse has allowed me to use a form when called upon and the form is understood to create and conform my words to the new form. As it isn't my usual fashion there is a certain pleasure in word-smithing using a set form, especially if it manages to express everything you would want to say at the same time.
this little hub of mine
i'm gonna shake and rub
this little hub of mine
doo-dah dee doo-dah jug
this little hub of mine
yes I will make it rhyme
this little hub of mine
it won't take no time
doo-dah dee doo-dah . . .say. hic-hic
about 60 seconds and it sucks
Being of average intelligance
and a little slow at time
I thought for to be poetry
you had to make it rythme
when trying to write poetry
on a subject in my head
the hard bit is to make it rythme
as i,ve already said
this one has took 5 minutes
but really heres the rub
if i,d wrote a few more verses
I,d have published as a hub.
Bit slower than you Charlie
..and a fine five-minute poem it is. (but did you edit?)
My poems would take
ten minutes, I think.
Writing in five
means my poem would stink.
Now, twenty minutes
is another thing.
Emotion or giggles
that poem will bring.
Thirty minutes - well, that's
just too much time.
Even for someone
whose poems don't rhyme.
The world is full
of poetry fakes;
regardless of time
each poem takes.
but time aside,
something is to be said
for poems that leave readers
knowing just what they've read.
Bravo Selrach I like it!! good job! lvh
i can sometimes write a short poem in minutes with another few minutes of editing and be happy with it. Other pieces might take a half an hour or so. If i am working on one of my books, well thats a whole different ball of wax. It has never taken me days or weeks to write a poem, but that's just me. For me they come to my mind in a rush, my fingers can't hardly keep up with the emerging piece in my mind to get it all down. It's amazing, or i'll have to dot down key words or phases if one comes to me and i am not in front of the pc so i don't lose the flavor of it. Does that help? lvh
actually it is related to how much booze I have consumed whilst being poesy.
A matter of minutes. No editing.
The ink flowing through with the
Blood stream keeping the beating
To thy heart is flowing onto paper.
And that is all it takes~
I've been learning poetry with Speedy Gonzalez.
One of my favourites is the poem dedicated to someone's birthday :
Tabasco is red, paprika too.
Happy birthday to you !
Great huh ?
pay a batterred dime
for some short rhyme
I post to you.
Pay a well worn dollar
for some sweet bouquet words
that holler I love you.
Pay a ring of gold
for lines that twine your thoughts
the days as you get old.
Pay nothing for the careful symettry
that soars an eagles winged
suspense of poetry
Usually, if they are going to be any good at all, for me, they come fast and I write them in under 10 min. unless, they are an epic and those can take a few 20 - 30 minute sessions as real life will seldom allow me more than that at a sitting.
I did recently write an epic in one sitting but that is not my norm.
As for editing, I admit it... it's like torture and I hate it w/ a passion. Being dyslexic I can't spot a misspelling to save my life and live by spell check. If spell check misses it, I'm toast.
Ah - don't worry about spell check - some of the greatest poems came about by dropping in the wrong word - and causing a "oh sh*t that is better" moment
Ha ha - I agree completely on the wrong word.
Actually, I think that good poetry is written internally very long before to write a white sheet and after persistent reading of good poetry. A combination of inspiration and a good experience. But it needed a spark!
Writing for me is an opportunistic process. I can't just sit down and write. Something must trigger me to begin writing. Sometimes I will write five in one day or one in a month. Whatever moves my spirit guides my hand. This way, my work is not artificial and forced.
I wrote the draft of my latest poem in less than 5 minutes.
I have never done that before...
but what was really strange is that I woke up at 4.00am with the words going through my head.
Blew me away because it is one of my better poems
It usually just come to me...then I read it. Then I make changes, it depends how long-it varies if its a long poem or short.Whats important you get to convey your message. I'm don't worry how long it takes me tow rite it.
...I am a very fast writer and quick thinker so the entire process of pen to paper is anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes .... and then online to Finland or Australia or England or Mars - and someone else can be reading it within one hour - unbelievable just like the amazing Steele Fields!!!
Usually I get inspired from joy, sadness, lost love, etc
and it comes to me. So fast like 5 minutes.
I rarely edit.
But other times, occassionally I need to work on it, but I think the inspired ones are best.
Ever heard U2 or some band say the easy ones were the best ?
Poetry: Usually I will let things 'cook' for awhile after writing, return to it and tweak it if it needs editing. I have left some poetry for 6 - 12 months to return to it before being satisfied.
If it doesn't 'feel' or read right for me, then I leave it alone and go back to it later.
Other times, it is a quick process and the thoughts and words can't be written fast enough.
It literally takes me a few minutes to write a poem. When I am finished I leave it for a day or so then re-read it to check for it's flow and see if it still makes sense.
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