You don't learn to write by going through a series of preset writing exercises. You learn to write by grappling with a real subject that truly matters to you.
Use your notebook to breathe in the world around you.
It's misleading to think of writers as special creatures, word sorcerers who possess some sort of magical knowledge hidden from everyone else. Writers are ordinary people who like to write. They feel the urge to write, and they scratch that itch every chance they get.
If you want to write poetry, you must have poems that deeply move you. Poems you can't live without. I think of a poem as the blood in a blood transfusion, given from the heart of the poet to the heart of the reader. Seek after poems that live inside you, poems that move through your veins.
Here's the secret of writing: there is no secret.
When students write from experience, they can breathe those specifics into their writing- dialect, odd smells, precise names of plants- that can animate even the most tired and tedious text.
Poems are the 'daredevil' of writing
because a poem will say what nobody else wants to say.
Good writing happens when human beings follow particular steps to take control of their sentences-to make their words do what they want them to do.
G.K. Chesterton once said: If something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. I live by this philosophy when I teach writing. It seems to me vastly more important that a student try a new technique in her writing, and use it imperfectly, than never try the technique at all.
Writing becomes beautiful when it becomes specific, concrete.
When someone you love dies, you get a big bowl of sadness put down in front of you, steaming hot. You can start eating now, or you can let it cool and eat it bit by bit later one. Either way, you end up eating the whole thing. There's really no way around it.
The real meaning of a poem is to stop time.
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