Writing Rambling: Why do I Write in ‘Set’ Forms?

I don’t always write in specific forms of poetry, but I like to try and master the older styles of poetry because it teaches me discipline—like writing word-limited flash fiction. It teaches me to think about my words, and my word choices. It makes me think of alternative ways to say something, rather than to just change the poem form to suit.

It’s easy to be creative when you don’t have to obey the rules, but only when you strive to achieve your goal within a somewhat restrictive framework can you truly be creative. This is because restrictions make you think. You can’t just go from Point A to Point B in one easy step; you have to figure out a viable path. As with real life, when there are obstacles to your path, creativity can spark a new solution you would not have thought of otherwise.

Restrictions bring about discovery; they force solutions to be found that might not have been uncovered otherwise, and these discoveries feed into the array of tools that can be applied to other problems and situations. It builds our ability to face and overcome new problems. It gives our writing new perspective. It makes our writing stronger.

Or, at least, that’s what it does for me.

I have to admit that the reduction in writing speed, from over 1,000 words an hour to under 500 words an hour, is frustrating, but the pay-off that I see in being able to untangle story lines, or make a paragraph read more smoothly… that’s magic.


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