Which Is Easier To Write: Fiction or Poetry?
When I first began to write seriously (as in, write with the intent to publish), I did a ton of research. And one nugget of advice that popped up on several different websites and articles was this: stick to one genre. At the time, I was writing Bewilderments, had no less than three other novel ideas tucked away, and couldn’t see myself straying from fiction, and more specifically, YA/NA fiction. And then, out of nowhere, poetry happened to me. And it couldn’t be helped- before I knew it Cold Sober was ready to be let loose into the world. Sure, I dabbled in poetry growing up but it was mostly moody teenage ramblings that I would never dare to share with anyone. So when I began writing love poems, I really didn’t think they would go anywhere. Publishing Bewilderments was scary enough. I had never shared my writing with anyone before, and Bewilderments was particularly personal, and I was worried how it would be received not only by strangers but by my friends and family. Once I crossed that line and put my work out there, I thought I was over the hump and every project after it would be easy! Maybe if my second release was also fiction, I would have felt that way. But I won’t know that until I put out another work of fiction. And since my next release was poetry, I went through the nerves and insecurity all over again.
A question that keeps popping up in conversations I have about my books and writing is whether it’s easier to write fiction or poetry. My snap response is always poetry, because it’s quicker. But when I think about it, they both have their difficulties and their easier aspects. This is my evaluation of the two genres, from my own experience:
Like I mentioned, poetry tends to be quicker for me. I can crank out a poetry book much quicker than a novel. That’s understandable, though, seeing as fiction tends to be more involved. Novels are long, there are plot consistencies to worry about. Poetry collections, though they often connect to each other and tell a story in a different way, are made up of individual poems. A poem can stand a lone, a chapter of a book cannot. So to write one poem at a time seems like such a manageable feat, and then they add up and you have a collection. But poetry is much more personal, and there’s no hiding under the guise of “fiction”. This is both a pro and a con. Because poems often come straight from the soul, they tend to come easily and naturally. They flow out of you because you’ve experienced/are experiencing emotion of some kind. The material sits there on your heart, just waiting to be put to paper. You don’t have to figure out how to work what you have to say into a plot or maintaining a believable character. Poetry is pure and brutally honest. But, this means that sharing poetry is basically baring your soul to the public. And that’s an intimidating thing. It takes a certain amount of courage to blatantly tell your truth and not call it fiction, not give your crisis to a character with a different name. I have two poetry collections out and to this day I feel nervous when people, especially people that i know, read them.
Fiction is so much fun to write, but it’s a lot more involved. Novels take a lot of planning, plotting, outlining, and editing. You have to pay attention to the movement and consistency of novels, whether or not you’re hitting your plot points and if you’re dragging on too long in between relevant bits. There are more “rules” for novel writing than there are for poetry, and I’ve experienced more writers block while writing fiction than I have while writing poetry. It took me a year to write Bewilderments and even longer to edit it and have it ready for publication. But that year of writing was (though challenging at times) a blast. Getting to create characters, scenarios, relationships, and worlds is so much fun and it’s a great way to explore your own curiosities. As a reader who has been falling in love with characters since I was little, the idea that I can create characters that others relate to and become invested in is amazing to me. Stories unite. Stories provide sanctuary. And creating stories are just as therapeutic.
As I mentioned before, this my own experience with the two genres. I’m curious- do you agree? If you’ve dabbled in both genres, what is your take on this conversation? Do you find one genre harder than the other?
Also, keep an eye out for a future post dedicated to the argument on whether or not authors should stick to one genre only!
Until next time,