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How to Write Poetry or Anything Else

by norberto franco cisneros

It is easy to write poetry or anything else.

  1. Think of a subject

  2. Get your Roget’s and dictionary

  3. Get your pen, pencil or computer

  4. Get your favorite beverage

  5. Sit down and crack your knuckles

  6. Scrunch your eyes and look at the blank piece of paper or screen

  7. Take a sip of your favorite beverage

  8. Get up and play with dog or cat or bungie, etc.

Suggestion:  if you feel antsy cause nothing comes take another sip then add something more substantial to your beverage or light up a substantial smoke –  they won’t help but it will give you the illusion of doing something to help the creative juices flow.

  1. Crack your knuckles again

  2. Squint at your keyboard or pen or pencil

  3. Put something stronger in your favorite beverage and take a big swig - refill

  4. Now, start typing or writing, however,

  5. If nothing comes, take a break as it’s going to be a long day;

  6. Then redo the first thirteen steps again, refilling your beverage each time but be careful you don’t pay more attention to your beverage and pass out before you write the first word of your masterpiece.

I have attempted to help you get started and I assure you it is easy, however it’s up to you to write the words and continue writing until you’re done, but if months come and go and nothing comes to you or if you have become an alcoholic or addict in the meantime waiting for the muse and find yourself editing your work by throwing it in the trash: STOP WRITING and GIVE IT UP! (Save yourself the agonizing misery that will surely come if you continue. Nobody needs to be that miserable.) 

Before I go any further, one thing that’s of prime importance must be mentioned: learn proper grammar and punctuation.  Nobody likes reading work with a lot of misspellings, omission of periods, question marks, quotation marks, etc. In other words, LEARN YOUR CRAFT.

I realize there are some of you who aren’t able to find the proper incentive or motivation, but still insist the Pulitzer is in your grasp, let me tell you, writing anything and writing it well is not for sissies, wannabees or those looking for fame or riches. The words that comes to mind are painful persistence. If you persist, there will be blood, sweat and tears and long sleepless nights in your future. A well written, acceptable piece takes raw unadulterated commitment and there is no promise of a real payoff except for the rare piece you might be lucky enough to sell, but not retire on.  Oh, you might get praise from your fellow suffering writers, (actually sufferingwriters should be one word) though heartily welcomed and appreciated; keep telling yourself 'compensation is a planet in another universe in the outer limits, not where you live'.

Do you expect to make money?  Is there money in writing? Forget about it!  Like in acting, there are the handful, the chosen few who do very well and then there are the countless minions, the wannabees who live on the periphery with pipe dreams. In writing, it’s no different and as in other professions, mostly, it’s who you know.

So, if you feel writing is in your blood and can’t help yourself.  If you have to write day in and day out because it’s in you and you can’t live without it, then I’d say you stand half a chance to maybe get your foot in the door.  Just keep in mind that writing will be the easiest thing you do.  The hard part is getting it published because good writing will not get you published.  What will?  There are so many things too many to go into here, but know you will get to know the bowels and the essence of the word ‘persistence’ and what really makes a “successful writer”.  Publishers are one thing, agents another, but defining their roles may be beneficial but not necessary  but let me say to young aspiring writers or old fogeys who still have dreams, they are secondary to the work; the work comes first.

A special note:  When you submit a piece, small or lengthy, the people who approve the purchasing or publishing of your product expect it to be an extremely good if not a great piece of writing.  Mediocre pieces are quickly dispensed into the bin of oblivion. So understand, you must do great writing if you want to be in the top two percent who do make a living and obtain fame.

(One word of encouragement:  Talent and great writing won't get you published or famous but they do help, greatly.)

Although there are beginners who manage to attract attention, I can’t name any and I’m 73 years old and have been writing for about half a century. No, wait, there is one who comes to mind: Grace Metalious the writer of Peyton Place in the 60’s, but it took her about ten years before the breakthrough.  I’m sure there may be others, but I can’t recall them nor want to.

So if you still fancy yourself a writer consider writing for yourself first, then join a writers’ group and let them criticize your work and, if you survive that first sting of criticism; it should be an eye opener for you.  Don’t get your feelings hurt, and don’t be discouraged even though they might get very critical and thrash your piece, but try to learn from the criticism and know how far you still have to go to be a published author or poet.  And if you still think you have IT, then I wish you all the best and hope to be reading your great American novel or your master Poetry Chapbook and anthology; the one that’s going to get you enshrined in the pantheon of  Poet Laureates in the U.S.A. But above all, keep writing!

Good Luck!

Norberto Franco Cisneros

(Still a writer wannabee)