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writing process

3+ Tips for Defining Your Poetry Writing Practice

Most, if not all, of your favorite writers and poets have created some kind of writing practice to get their work done. This routine behavior is pivotal to the success of a writer and important to learn if you want to start taking your craft as a writer seriously. Cultivating a writing practice doesn’t mean showing up to the page every day and coming up with greatness within every sentence. It’s actually quite the opposite. 


Author, artist, and writing teacher Natalie Goldberg introduced the concept of writing practice in her popular book Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, where she says “One of the main aims in writing practice is to learn to trust your own mind and body; to grow patient and non-aggressive.” 


Much like freewriting, writing practice involves turning up and writing about a particular topic, theme, or idea without editing yourself for a predetermined period. It’s an expressive and fluid type of writing that gets words on the page, helps create a sustainable habit and can shape your poems or creative projects into fully formed and publishable works of art. 


Just as your art is uniquely your own, your writing practice will not look the same as your favorite writers’. It’s up to you to define what works best for you. It’s about forming healthy habits that strengthen you as a writer, as habits can help you bridge the gap between where you are and where you would like to be in your creative journey. Here are a few suggested habit changes and key factors that can help you form a writing practice that you can stick to, to achieve the writing success you long for. 


Figure out your own creative process 

As I mentioned, your practice is unique to you. Every writer’s process is different, from the tools and techniques they use to bring their poems to life to the creative energy they possess and how they complete their best work. 


Some writers can easily work in the margins of their lives, scribbling snippets here and there throughout their days, while at work or on the train or before bed.  I personally, need larger blocks of time as I need to be able to sit with my work and not feel rushed or like I should be somewhere else. Some need silence. Some like the noises of a coffee shop. Some need to wake up before the rest of the world to write. Which elements define your own creative process? 


Understanding your creative process and how you operate best when completing creative work can help you define whether daily writing is right for you, as well as which days or times of day would be best for you to commit to your new writing practice. Take a moment to consider what you need for yourself. 


Determine your schedule and priorities 

Writing is most likely not your top priority unless you are fortunate enough to write full-time. This means you’ll need to build a writing practice that works around the priorities that take precedence in your life.


As you build your writing practice, get clear about your priorities and how much time they truly fill in your schedule. Some authors have found that writing a certain number of words a day, focusing on quantity over quality, is the best way for them to form a writing practice. Others focus on how much time they are writing, such as scheduling two hours out of there day to only focus on their poetry. When deciding how your new writing practice will fit into your schedule, consider your creative process, that we just spoke about above. 


If you’re a writer who can work whenever and wherever then building a daily writing habit is likely the right choice for you. But if you’re a writer who needs larger blocks of time to complete any meaningful creative work, a habit that sees you writing a few times a week is the more sustainable choice.


Also, make sure you are leaving space in your life to breathe. You don’t want to encounter burn out which is what will happen if you are planning every moment of your day. Be gentle with yourself and schedule your writing at a time you know you will have the energy and desire to engage in it. 


Define your version of success

Success means something different to everyone. Maybe success to you means writing enough poems to finally start a poetry-based Instagram account. Maybe it means completing your poetry collection and submitting it to a publisher. Maybe you don’t think you have succeeded until you are holding your published collection in your hands. Get clear on your vision. Part of building and defining your writing practice is understanding what you want from your writing life. Not what other authors are doing or what a family member considers a successful writer to be. What you want. Then, define how this will affect the writing practice you’re working to build. 


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