Monday, June 14, 2010

Request: What is My Writing Routine

I mentioned I would be happy to blog about topics of your request this summer and a few have come in, so watch for them in the next week or so.

Here's a good one about what is my writing routine?

I'd love to hear about how you work.  Could that be more general?  But what I mean is, when you sit down to write what, exactly, do you do?  I remember one post that said you let one poem feed off the previous poem you'd written.   How does that work for you?  

I tend not to have a specific routine but have in the past.  I'd had it where I had to light a candle first as that signaled the ritual of writing.  Now, I sit down and write.

When I have a full day to write, I usually begin by spending about 40 minutes doing busywork. I check my email, I read a few blogs.  I check my email, I randomly flit around. This is all just wasted time in way, but in another way, it's sort of like the dog circling before it lies down.  I need to circle before I write.

When I'm ready to write, I go to my New Work folder in MS Word and open up about 5 or 10 poems that look interesting or that I might be excited about.  With my Mac, I can color code poems so I can easily see my favorites in the folder.

I open up a poem and start to revise.

Things I'm looking for--

Easy words such as "get, got" or extra words that aren't adding to the poem.

I also look for lines that aren't helping the poem, but dragging it down.

I look for anything cliche or where I just used something easy.

I ask myself-- What is the struggle in this poem?  Does this poem evolve?

I read the out loud and listen to hear the music in the poem.  I listen to find clunky spots.

If I get stuck, I move onto the next poem.  When I can't revise, I move onto the next poem.  This is how one poems feeds off another, I move from poem to poem, working on each until I can't feel I can do anymore.  Then I check back with it: Hi Poem, how you doin'?

I continue to to do this until I get hungry or feel stuck.  I then read each poem out loud to see if it's ready to be more to the DONE folder.  Most are not ready to be moved and return to the New Work folder.

Sometimes I go into my In Process folder.  These are much older poems (some YEARS old), my earliest "still in process" poem goes back to 1998.  I have no problems having poems that I've never completed.  I believe one day they will be completed...or not.  They are just the children that never grow up, the lost boys, and that's okay with me.

This is a day of revision for me.  I'll write more about a day of new work in another post.



  1. Love this! The idea of "circling around" ~ interesting to me as I've watched my process evolve with technology. Loved your "lost boys" too ~ thanks for sharing!

  2. Kelli- Thanks for sharing this. I'm anxious to hear how you tackle a new writing day as well.


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