You can learn the formulas for acceptable sentence structure and memorize the different types of poetic devices.
But how do you learn to write?
A common misconception is that learning how to write well is like building muscle- a process that requires time, strict guidelines and practice to master but this could not be further from the truth.
In the past 18 years, life has been my best english professor.
Writing for me used to be nothing more than a grey mechanical chore until one day my grade 6 teacher asked us to write a poem about what freedom means to you. We were given no rules just a simple task.
Freedom in My Life
If you have freedom,
It is as equal as living in a magical kingdom.
To go outside without a worry,
Is a true pleasure and glory.
To be able to stand up for what you believe,
Is even better than staying up late on New Year’s Eve
We have to be the best person we can.
It doesn’t matter if we are a woman or a man.
I’m so lucky to be living as I am.
I can’t imagine my life without my rights.
The way the words fit snugly together like puzzle pieces before I even spilled them onto the page took me by surprise. Everything I had written about before this poem wasn’t writing, it was the regurgitation of rules and expectations- everything that had been done before. For the first time in my life, thinking came after writing.
That poem was the stamp of a new beginning. From that point onwards I began using writing as a filter for my thoughts and it ultimately morphed into a tool for personal well being. I live and breathe in words. When I am hurt I bleed poetry. When I am happy I embrace rhymes. And for all those times when I don’t know how I’m feeling, I take my thoughts, toss the words out on paper and then unscramble them- like unraveling a knot. I couldn’t be more grateful to have finally found a messenger between myself and my mind.
I kept writing.
In grade 9, I wrote a poem that went on to be published in the National Poetry Institute of Canada. I didn’t write with the intention of being published. I wrote about my favourite movie combined with the pain of a heartbreak and showed a friend who encouraged me to submit it.
Mistake Was Mine
My heart found a shelter. I found my missing shoe.
Suddenly all the love songs were only about you.
The fault was mine-
I mistook reality, stayed frozen in time.
Why do we fall in love so easy and never ask why?
Why do we dream of flying if we know we can’t fly?
Our heart has a mind of its own;
the same heart that beats with us when we’re all alone.
Our mind has a heart of its own;
making decisions based on feelings we can’t control.
I wanted to know if you felt the same,
but your silence just added fuel to the flames.
Without lifting a finger, you took what was mine.
Now I'm left with feelings that refuse to die.
Before we dive we must look down- not above.
Perhaps I only fell in love with the idea of being loved.
But one thing is certain. I know I can’t be wrong.
By the time I lifted the curtain you were long gone.
I was your cure and you were my disease.
I was saving you and you were killing me.
You see, I never thought of that poem as “professional writing.” To me, my writing is and always will be the personal diary of my mind- an untamable, unquantifiable heartbeat. Writing in many ways is a paint brush I use to dip into the paint palette of experiences in my life. Swirls of blue for sadness. Splatters of red for anger and spirals for green for confusion. My writing allows me to dip my paintbrush into my emotions and paint a picture to create harmony between all my thoughts.
Sometimes it is raw emotions uncovered through writing that pave the way for healing.We are taught the nooks and crannies of writing for academic purposes but we are seldom taught how to write to create purpose. Sometimes the most raw but heartfelt emotions can only be conveyed by breaking the rules.
I encourage you all to tune out the world from time to time and just write for yourself. So, break the fences around your imagination and just write. Tune out the world and just write. Allow yourself time to feel and just write.
Write for yourself and you might be surprised to find out who you really are.