Read: I learn so much from reading other poets. I read carefully to see how they do what they’re doing. I notice what forms they’re using and what rhythms and rhymes. I also find others’ work inspiring. When I read, I get ideas for my own writing.
Write: A few years ago I started writing poetry nearly every day. The practice has helped me improve my skills, and it’s given me the confidence that I can always find something to write about.
Share: Even when I’m happy with my work, I still want to know if an audience will see it the way I do. I have two critique groups. I know my friends will tell me what’s working and what needs work. Once I feel my work is at its best, I like to share it with readers. I send my work to magazines and book publishers; I share some of it on my blog.
Get Out: In order to write you must sit in your chair and write, but I know for myself, I also need to get out of my chair and move around. Many of my poems begin with a walk around the neighborhood or a field trip around town or through the course of my daily activities. When I get stuck, I find that a walk can help me get unstuck.
Go Online: The internet can be a huge waste of time and a wonderful way to connect. I regularly participate in Poetry Friday, the weekly, online celebration. Poetry Friday gives me a regular deadline, a way to connect with other poets, and a renewable collection of wonderful poetry to read and consider. The internet can also be a great source for online writing challenges. David Harrison, Laura Purdie Salas, and The Miss Rumphius Effect all provide regular challenges and places to share. I find these particularly helpful when I’m feeling rusty after being away from writing.
Be Creative: Try a different form. Try a different point of view. Try to find a metaphor no one has ever used before. When I’m looking for a unique metaphor, I brainstorm a long list of possible ideas. I often find my best ideas come after I’ve written down all the obvious ones.
Don’t Wait: I waited for years for someone to tell me I’m a writer. I finally became a writer when I stopped waiting and decided for myself that I’m a writer. I write because I love it, and I can’t imagine not writing.