The Blog of John Hewitt

Write poetry as often as you can

There are many excuses not to write. Try using writing as an excuse not to do other things.

This is a problem faced by all sorts of writers, poets included. There are many people in this world who think that they can be a poet or a writer. After all, learning to write is one of the first things you are taught in school. Most people know that they don’t have the skills to be a surgeon or an engineer, but almost everyone thinks they have the skills to be a writer or a poet. Most of them are correct. They can write. Nonetheless, they haven’t got what it takes to be a true writer or a poet, no matter what their writing skill is.

The reason they can’t do it is simple; they don’t do it. These people don’t sit down every day at a keyboard and try to write something. Most of them have ideas, and they might even be able to put words together in an appealing way, but they haven’t got the ability to make themselves sit down and do it day after day.

Doing something (anything) every day can be a challenge, even when the task is fun and easy. There are so many events that fill up a person’s day that even pleasurable things get pushed to the side. You may love to swim, for example, but a good movie on television can change your swim plans. That is life.

The challenge involved with doing something every day increases when that something is difficult and not necessarily enjoyable. I love to write, but there are days when it is a chore. There are times when ideas don’t come or words don’t flow. There are days when I just don’t feel like doing it. Those are the days that separate the serious writer from people who think they can write.

If you want to be a serious writer or poet, you have to stick those days out. Every poem you write helps you develop as a poet, even when it doesn’t seem like you are accomplishing anything. The person who spends an hour a month writing poetry is less likely to write a good poem every month than the person who spends an hour a week. The person who spends an hour a week writing poetry is less likely to write a good poem every week than the person who spends an hour a day. The person who spends many hours a week writing poetry, and reading poetry, and studying poetry, and going to poetry readings is the most likely to develop into a great poet.

That isn’t to say that you have to spend your whole life writing poetry to be good at it or to enjoy it. Still, you need to understand that time and effort leads to success. Time and effort separate a true writer from the people who think that they can write.

If you just want to write poetry for fun, then schedule a time each week to do it. Put aside at least a couple hours to write. If something better comes along, go ahead and do it, but schedule another time to write as soon as possible.

If you want to develop into a great poet, writing once a week is not enough time. You need to schedule more than one time every week to write, and schedule time to read and study. You need to get involved in the poetry scene and make the effort to connect with other poets and potential publishers. You need to value your time as a poet more than your time doing other things.