Freewriting Exercise: Douse Your Inner Critic with the Flow of Poetic Imagery

A poem can take any form. It can rhyme. It can be short or long. Poetry uses language in ways that ordinary purposeful speech never does.

One of the fundamentals of poetry (and language in general) is the use of analogy. One thing is like another thing. With skill, analogy can nimbly convey the deepest and most profound of truths. Analogies do not need to be complex.

Analogies make comparisons and bring dissonant issues to light. It can be beautiful when one thing and another are embraced together by the same language. It can be enlightening. It can be goofy and entertaining.

The act of using figurative language ongoingly can do something subtle and profound to your energetic state.

Metaphor and simile are easy to understand, yet there is no limit to how much can be accomplished with these simple impulses.

Writing exercise

This exercise combines freewriting with the spirit of formless poetry in an alchemy that will intoxicate your inner critic.

Freewrite for at least ten minutes — ideally twenty or more.

Your guidelines:

Explore connective material with your writing.

  • Use like and as.
  • Make one metaphor after another.
  • Craft strings of similes.

Strain negative capability past the breaking point.

An example:

As water is to a rainshower is to a upturned canoe

like flowers on the daughter’s grave
flowers under a cool moon
flowers of women standing near

like hair whips in a breeze
she took her step onto the bridge

The words you write are less important than how it feels to write them. The goal of this exercise is to enter a different state of mind.

Use freewriting’s urge forward to get you into weird and impossible spaces where the only way out is forward and no reasonable or rational answer can offer any help to you.

The only life raft is the act of swimming ever forward, flowing with the stream of language without stopping.

No pausing to think. No worries if the last line didn’t rhyme, didn’t make sense, wasn’t very good.

Keep writing, keep feeling. Notice what happens to your critical voice as you give yourself fully to the ever-onward flow of metaphor, simile, analogy and figurative language.

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