Cultivating Your Craft

In an earlier blog, I shared some crafting tools with you.

It is helpful for a writer to develop a love of crafting.  For me, this involves reading my work with both a critical (in the best sense of the word) and an astute eye.  It brings to the fore another type of creativity.  The sculptress in me comes forth.  There is a molding and modeling that involves checking the flow of my writing, the correctness of phrasing, the precise wording.

I like to think of this crafting as  that conversational process between me and my art of the moment, cultivating my piece.  Once I’ve got a poem, for instance, to the place where it says what it has to say, then I begin the serious cultivating.  I do the necessary weeding out of words, tangent ideas, letting go of extraneous fluff–the unnecessary editorializing, perhaps relinquishing the best line and the side shoots that belong in another poem.  I consider the shape of my poem on the page, punctuation (or not) and line endings.  I add in the precise words, the expansive and inclusive ideas, the culminating moment(s), the snap it shut conclusion.  And don’t forget the title.

To cultivate is to nurture and help grow into its optimal self. When you cultivate something, “you work to make it better.”  The word once referred only to crops that needed tending, “but the meaning has widened.  No matter what is being cultivated, the word implies a level of care that is reminiscent of gardening.  To cultivate anything requires an attention to detail, an understanding of what is being cultivated, and a lot of patience.”  from

One other thing that occurs to me is when you’ve brought your piece to the point of saying “it’s done,” especially if you intend to put it out in the world, have a trusted and learned person read it.  Ask for the type of critique you desire from him or her.  Being able to share your work within the safety of a trusted writing circle is also a boon.


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