Fast fact: Poetry doesn’t pay the bills. But you probably already know that. However, many poets who work as professional writers (e.g., technical writing) will tell you how their poetry training still comes in handy. Even as a student, I’ve noticed how poetry has improved my professional writing skills in these ways:
Attention to Detail
Poetry, like any form of creative writing, tells much of its story through detail. The power of Tom Andrews’s “At Burt Lake” doesn’t come from its musing but from its careful noting of the way the stars “blister” and “chip” the lake or the fact that it’s a sycamore tree, not just a tree. Without giving me a paragraph about the smell of milfoil or what time of year it is, Andrews presents a scene before his readers, his sharp detail capturing all we need to hear. Noticing the little things that present a scene can tighten your own writing (even if you’re writing just about manuals).
Read More »
When I was writing about revision earlier this week, I found myself thinking about how different writing pieces require different forms of revision. Rather than just a generic “don’t forget to proofread” message, I began reviewing what kinds of questions I ask myself when I write and post blog articles. Since many of you are bloggers as well, I’m hoping this can be a helpful checklist for you:
1. Does the title sum up and draw in the reader?
Because everyone hates click bait. Like the subject line of an email, you should always make sure your title gives the reader a fair preview of what they’re about to read.
Read More »
It’s easy to start having a high opinion of your writing, especially when people are contacting you for help or when you’re the only “writer” in your work group.
One of my creative writing classes this semester is called Autobiographical Writing. While memoir writing is not required in the business world, this class has helped me focus in on the meaning behind small details as well as reminding me of the value of revision. Recently, my classmates and I met in groups of three and spent a few days critiquing each other’s drafts, looking at voice, theme, coherency, diction, detail, and syntax. These peer critiques usually don’t enhance ego; while I figured out some of my strengths, I also discovered more weaknesses.
Read More »