In the past few years, I’ve made a point of asking all of my writer friends the same question: what is your process like? Some of the poets I know work by mapping out their poetry, each stanza, with a definite intention and plan. Others, begin with an idea and allow it to develop as they write, sometimes altering in the process. Others use different kinds of prompts that allow for different processes. This could be, I suppose, a loaded question, but I wonder if the process used has any bearing on the kind of product?
Personally, I tend to start based on a feeling, an urge that is provided by a particular word or image. From there, it seems that the poem writes itself through me. Often, I don’t have any one intention in mind when I begin, just a general idea. Exercises in form, however, have forced me to think and plan ahead (a bit, at least more than usual). As a result, I tend to write a different style of poetry, a different style of language than the organic voice that seeps through when there are no restrictions. This offers up the question of “organic” voice. Does form force voice, like the very formal tone I notice in my writing when I produce a sonnet or sestina? Is this my individual reaction to the regulations of different forms?
Or is this just indicative of my continuing development of voice as a poet? I would suppose, although I don’t wish to be presumptuous, that our processes as writers influence our voice. Or vice versa. And by influencing our voice, influence our output.
So I extend the question: what is your process and how do you think it affects your writing?