This is part 2 in a guest series featuring Andrea Beltran. Yesterday she shared her poem, Finding Baby. Today she shares thoughts on the process of writing poetry. Thanks again, Andrea!
While in college and really tapping into the world of writing poetry, a few of my professors repeatedly told me,
“Read, write, then read some more. The writing will come to you.”
I didn’t listen. I would read a few pages of the books they gave me and classify it as read. I didn’t allow myself to be immersed in poetry the way I should have been, but there is a lesson in everything, and now I know better.
These days, I read, read, write a little, then read some more.
The more I read, the more I find myself sitting in front of a clean sheet of paper with pen in hand.
I don’t have those moments of not knowing what to write as often. I don’t feel myself forcing myself to write something down on the page. I always start and end the day with a poem.
I begin each morning with some light reading. Taking a cue from Jack Myers, my poetry professor in college, I write something every morning after my reading period. I don’t force a poem out onto a page. If a poem isn’t ready to be written, I write a few notes down about what I’ve read, moments that stood out to me from the day before, or thoughts about certain things or people in my life. Sometimes, it’s only a few lines. Other times, it’s a few pages. No matter the volume, I’m grateful for the words, as I can come back to them later and maybe weave them into a poem. Oh, and there is always a cup of coffee and music involved.
Revision is something I never did, but that’s because I didn’t fully understand poetry. It used to pain me to do massive revisions on a piece. Now, I’ve found that revision is key to writing. One needs to learn to look at their work objectively to make it better. A few close and honest writing friends help.
The writing process for me has become a habit. It’s ingrained in my eyes, my hands, my mind.
Read, write, revise, listen. Repeat.
Focus more on the reading and listening and the rest will find you.
Andrea lives in El Paso, Texas and moonlights as a poet. Her poems have recently appeared in flash quake, Rose & Thorn Journal, and Referential Magazine. She blogs about poetry and writing at andreakristen.blogspot.com.
Above photo taken from Andrea’s Instagram. Don’t forget to follow her on Twitter.