Poetry and your future
Do you see yourself as a poet?
Many of us will not achieve international fame as poets, nor be able to make a living entirely from our writing. But if you’re a poet-and-you-know-it, then there’s poetry in your future. We poets can be a self-critical bunch, and sometimes the future may not seem bright, as we consider the unlikelihood of the bright lights of poetic fame. Below are a few suggestions for keeping an eye on your future as a poet, and keeping yourself positive as you (and your poetry) develop and grow.
Build with small bricks: I circle deadlines for magazines or competitions, diarise them for future submissions. I circle things I might not necessarily apply or submit to, because it demonstrates that there are things in the future worth making the effort for. If publication is your goal, give yourself one magazine a month to submit to. Enter one competition a year. Small bricks and sticks until you have a house.
Keep your dreams big: Just imagine that whatever you want from your writing, you can have. If it’s publication, keep pushing for that. If it’s for someone else to really get what you’ve written, reach out. And if what you want is to figure things out for yourself using your words, tell yourself every day that you will get there. The biggest successes start with the boldest dreams.
Write: This sounds like the most obvious instruction to give a writer, but it isn’t. It may not be realistic for everyone to write every day. But where you have time, do allow yourself to use it for yourself- just to write. When you don’t have time, try to think about when you next will- keep yourself hopeful. Think about your next move.
Live in the moment: Sounds strange, when we are talking about the future. And if we are to hope, and plan, it isn’t always the way forward, so to speak. But living in the moment- really feeling and embracing what’s around you- is also a way of preserving that moment for the future. And if you think less about past rejections, and less about what the future may or may not hold for you, you are giving yourself the opportunity to move into the future without nerve-wracking anticipation or sad backwards glances.
Seek to grow: Attend poetry courses*. Meet other poets. Practice your writing. Perfect the sonnet. Experiment with a lyric ballad. Write a limerick. All of these things will help keep your love of poetry alive, which is exactly what you need to bring it into the future. Anything that helps you grow and develop, as a poet and as a person, is helping to secure your future.
*For this, I really do recommend Southbank Poetry.