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Is poetry messing up with your writing skills?

by Vicky Tsiluma
I love poetry and I have been engaging in it since I was twelve. Discovering the haven that is PoetrySoup greatly increased my curiosity and enabled me to try out different forms and styles of writing. The first time I wrote a Villanelle, I almost gave up in tears. It was such a foreign concept to me. However, a couple of writes later, and suddenly it is no longer overwhelming. Rhyme is still a headache as I prefer writing down my thoughts as they come and that is a hard thing to do when I have to place certain words in certain places. I love the freedom that is Free verse. It enables me manipulate words and device my own sentence structure, which is all good except when it starts encroaching on my daily writing. 

I love writing articles and I thought I was fairly good at it. That is until people started pointing out my ‘weird sentence structures’ and ‘unusual word formations’. Apparently you are not allowed to form your own words when it comes to formal writing. Words like ‘aurafixation’ and ‘misinformizing’ cannot be placed in articles.  The thing with poetry is that it affords you a freedom to express yourself and break the rules of convention. It is this freedom that lacks in structured formal writing. However, when the lines of poetry and article writing get blurred, then you are in trouble. How then can you rectify the situation so to speak?

First of all, forget about freedom when it comes to article writing. Go back to the basics of writing and ensure you follow the rules. Unless you are a superstar, forget about forming your own words. If the words get highlighted by a spell checker, do not ignore the correction. If you are like me and you don’t like going over work you have already written, get someone else to do it for you. Ensure that your phrases are not symbolic in meaning. Phrases such as ‘stomp on my heart’ or ‘birthing oblivion’ should not be used lightly especially in scientific forums. Learn to differentiate between creativity and blatantly ignoring writing rules.

Of course, you can use unusual expressions in your articles; you just need to be sure to frame them as illustrations. This will enrich your writing and still enable you to use your creativity without breaking standard rules. Poetry should not be seen as exclusive to article writing. As a matter of fact, being conscious of what you write and your audience, should make your writing better. As you learn to reconcile your poetry to your other forms of writing, you will arrive at a ‘voice’ that is uniquely yours. And that is what will make you a great poet and writer.