April is National Poetry Month! This poses an interesting challenge for those among us who are poets: while the rest of the world is celebrating the works of poets they admire, writers of poetry must themselves rise to the challenge of becoming the wordsmiths they wish to be. This challenge is not perhaps specific to April––but it is pushed to the front burner, so to speak.
So what is a poet to do in a month set aside for celebrating poets and what they do?
I have three suggestions:
1. Set yourself a writing challenge.
The first thing to do, as a person dedicated to a specific craft and art form, is to continue working to improve your skill set. And as my creative writing instructor in college used to say, “You will never be so good at this that you can afford to stop practicing.” (Which might explain why she gave me her copy of Baking Illustrated, now that I come to think of it.) Regardless, I’m grateful to her for never letting up, never allowing me to relax into the assumption that I’d learned all I was going to learn and raised the bar as high as it would go. (I’m also grateful because she introduced me to loose-leaf lapsang souchong tea, but that’s entirely beside the point.) The old adage “Practice Makes Perfect” is dead wrong. To strive for perfection is to set ourselves up for failure every time, but to strive for improvement–to challenge ourselves to get better–is worth ten of that. So set yourself a writing challenge, one that fits your routine and schedule and needs, and use it as an opportunity to hone your form.
2. Go digital.
Many of my friends who went on to be poets–and there are many–have an aversion to social media. I’m not entirely sure why there’s more of this tendency among my poet friends than among my friends who write prose and nonfiction, and I know that my cohort is not quite a representative statistical sample, but the tendency seems common. It might have something to do with the intimate nature of poetry–it is, like much writing, a deeply private act that aims to generate a public–or semi-public–product. So this April, I’d like to challenge you to go digital. Not just as a person, but as a writer. Experiment with a variety of social media options–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, Tumblr, Snapchat, and more–and do so as a poet. Find your readers where they live, and meet them there.
3. Create a following.
But you know, not in a creepy way like in the television show. Once you’re on social media, take advantage of the opportunity to post snippets of your work, updates from behind the scenes as you write, and generally work to create the cult of personality that surrounds books with that oh-so-important “buzz” factor. This will help generate interest in your book, once you’re ready to publish–and will form a rock-solid foundation for your marketing strategy.
If you’re not comfortable projecting yourself as a poet into the digital sphere, that’s okay. There are reasons for those feelings, for reticence. I simply hope, in my own small way, to encourage you with this reassurance: your work deserves to be read, and admired. You are a poet, even if you haven’t yet published your book of poetry. You’ll get there, in your own time, and when you’re ready. Most of all, I want you to know that you have a community here who supports you all the way.
You are not alone. ♣︎
|ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.|