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Writing with Different Tools to Impact Voice

Happy Poetry Friday! (Head on over to Imagine the Possibilities for this week's roundup!) Today, I thought I'd share how what I use to write impacts my poetic voice. Why? Because it's interesting and weird and fun to play around with... and maybe it will inspire you to write something different!

Ages ago, I brought a new section of my verse novel to my critique group. And, when they read it, they said... "This sounds like a completely different writer than the previous sections. What did you do different?" My answer? I'd forgotten my notebook, so instead of writing each poem by hand I'd typed them out. And, after re-reading the section, they were right. I had a completely different poetic voice when I used the computer to draft!

Since then, I've spent time playing around with writing poetry using different tools. Hidden City was entirely handwritten. I wrote every poem over and over until I'd written it the exact same way twice, and only then did I type it up. Poems I write this way tend to be compact and full of imagery, and they often feel even a bit meditative. I think that the slowed-down process helps me to be more precise, and I find myself playing on other pages with word lists and brainstorming exercises a lot. Most of my poetry for children is written this way.

When I type the first draft of a poem, my poems are longer and more raw. They come out a bit like slam poems, and writing them is a like immersing in a stream of emotion that I emerge from blinking a little. In these poems, I tend to play a lot with line breaks and the size or spacing of words. I am more likely to repeat whole lines or stanzas for effect, and I'm more likely to focus on abstract metaphor than concrete imagery.

Other things, like the writing utensil I use, the type of paper I write on, the font I use and more can all impact my voice. I once had a friend tell me that a rant I sent her over a messaging app read like free verse poetry! So, if you want to try writing a different type of poetry, feel like you're in a rut, need to find a different voice for a project, or even if you're writing two characters with difference voices in a verse novel... try switching up your writing tools. You never know what you'll create next until you try!

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