Improve your writing

Yes, But Make It Good

Plus 10 tips on how to do it for yourself. Write, read, garden better.

I am prompted to underline my thoughts regarding GOOD or great in relation to learning and reading. I am prompted due to comments in my previous article The article was written to encourage you to explore haiku as a poetry form or even, in a broader context to read poetry if you have no time to read fiction (as in my case).

This premise can be related to all the arts, whatever your favoured form of expression is – I relate this premise to all my areas of interest; these being art, poetry, photography as well as gardening, cooking and my own health.

For the purposes of simplicity, and following my own experience, I shall speak in this article of haiku poetry, but remember you can extrapolate it across your life activities.

I discovered poetry and writing 3 years ago and when I thought I might like to do this I started reading on the web.  I very soon discovered there was so much rubbish written in the name of form and free verse was very much free form angst, angels breath and unrequited love.  Now there is nothing wrong with these subjects which have been written about since forever, but where was the good poetry?. 
I also knew that if I wished to write well I need to be reading well.  I needed to find the best of the best to learn from.  Here are 10 tips to help you get started and to get started good.

1.  Google ‘haiku’ (poetry / poets / writing / “a poet’s name”) – usually the top 10 sites on page 1 are good ones; the most active rise to the top and active ones are where vibrant discussion and participation is conducted and encouraged. 

2.   Google books on how to and see if you can pick up one or two from your local library.  Begin reading the masters in your chosen area – I started with Basho, Buson and Issa (haiku masters).

3.  Locate one or two poetry boards and join up – go to the forums first to see what is being talked about.  You soon gain a sense of whether poetry is the name of the game or not; sometimes, unfortunately, boards are filled with trolls and bickering – If you wish to write poetry, and write well, I strongly urge you to keep away from those.

4.  Find, print out and learn the rules of the form – this is an important first step.  Later, as you get a handle on the form, you begin to break the rules and learn to find your own voice whilst showing that your poems are grounded in the form and its fundamental rules.

5.  Join one or two of those poetry boards and begin reading the poetry of others. Learn from the comments of others.  Begin commenting from your own perspective which will now be informed by your reading and really, if you are reading the masters, you have the best information to hand to contrast against reading contemporary poems.

6.  Begin writing your own poems.  Work through some of the exercises you will have picked up in the how to books and post your poems on the boards.

7.  When commenting, be kind, admit your beginner status and listen to the comments you receive.  If you feel a comment is not helpful or rude, move on; you will find most people are kind and helpful.

8.  If you find one or two poets work that you enjoy, keep reading them and read the poems from their reading list; you pick up quicker and more easily when you are comfortable with the subject matter or form of expression.

9.  Challenge yourself.  If you can see a poet is good but you don’t understand why, keep reading them and over time you will get it or realise that perhaps they are not as good as you first thought.  This will come with reading, reading and reading as you determine your own pathway.

10.  Write, write, write.  Write everyday. Write, write, write.

Previous articles written (by myself) on Haiku.


To give you a bit of perspective.  I chose Haiku initially as I thought its just three lines, under 17 syllables and about nature – how difficult could it be?   [insert a giggle here!].  I  really really wanted to write long tracts of Dylanesque free verse but didn’t have the time for a long learning curve as I wanted to keep painting, doing collages, mosaics and everything else in between a full-time job, so I thought a short form would help me get the hang of it.

Well, 3 years down the track and I have over 60 short form poems published [] in a variety of print and online publications.  Although I find Haiku the most difficult for me, it has given me the discipline and skills in observation and poetry writing skills to become quite accomplished in.

all content & pictures(c) Gina 2010


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