An artist friend of mine is trying new things. She’s taking classes that show how to make freeform backgrounds by pouring water over charcoal, paint, etc. The results were much looser than what my friend usually paints or draws. It looked fun and interesting. And it stretched her.
It reminded me how writers need to try something new now and then. Only write fiction? Try a nonfiction piece. Only write personal experience? Try writing a short story. You get the idea.
In any case, you’ll need to learn some basics for the new area of writing. Maybe it’ll be taking a class, or reading a “how to” piece or book, or studying some examples. Whatever prep method you use, writing in a new area can stretch you.
Let’s talk poetry for a bit. You’ve probably heard of odes, limericks, and haikus. But do you know what a cinquain, sestina, or ghazal is? Here’s a site that explains 55 types of poetry forms! Take a form or two for a spin. You might like one, or the change might refresh what you normally work on.
From poetrysoup here’s an example of how to write a bio poem:
A poem written about one self's life, personality traits, and ambitions.
Line 1: First name
Line 2: Four traits that describe you
Line 3: Brother/ Sister of ... (may substitute son/daughter of)
Line 4: Lover of ... (Give names of three people or ideas)
Line 5: Who feels ... (Give three feelings)
Line 6: Who fears ... (Give three items)
Line 7: Who would like to see ... (Give three items)
Line 8: Resident of ... (Give city and state)
Line 9: Last name only
So, let’s see what I get when I try.
Friendly, at times still shy, honest, and sincere.
Daughter of Charles and Violette,
both residing in heaven.
Lover of leaves, kids, and books.
Who feels comfort from
the embrace of family,
the caring of friends,
and a purring cat.
Who fears heights, deep water, and the hatred of so many.
Who would like to see
more people getting along,
more successful marriages,
and more of the world.
Resident of the Pacific Northwest
What did I learn as I did this? That I like rules, but can’t resist writing my poem a bit more free form. I didn’t like when my lines got too long and found myself breaking them up and indenting when they did so. Part of it is probably a result of working on a novel in verse where I used breaks and indents for emphasis. Part of rule breaking for me is information I’m willing to share or not share. I don’t like agonizing about introspection either so maybe don’t go as deep as I could. Some of my rule breaking was just going where the words took me.
Years ago at a writer’s retreat the instructor had the members of the group think of some secret they had never told anyone. Once we had that in mind, she had us stand face to face with another person and think about telling that person the secret. It was uncomfortable. It stirred up emotions in us. Then she had us take a scenario and write it using the emotions swirling in our minds and hearts. I don’t remember what I wrote, but I sure remember how the experience felt.
And isn’t that what art is about anyway? To make us think or feel? Even if the feeling is one of temporarily escaping the problems in our lives when I read purely for enjoyment.
Writing this bio poem made me smile. Remembering the challenge from that writer’s retreat reminded me of a tool I can use in my own writing. So, if you’re feeling stuck or dry or frustrated with your writing, try something new. Who knows what you’ll get.
SM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too. She also loves assisting other writers on their journeys.