Day 2: More exploration

Sometimes, more really is more.

Do you have a poem that seems finished, but you have a nagging feeling that something is still missing?

Yesterday’s exercise of restricting letters both restricted my poem and brought me more material–and I realized that I didn’t yet have enough. In this case–at this stage–more is better.

Sometimes I’ll print out a draft and write in the margins, but today I want to take that idea further–and it’s super simple: Line by line, expand your poem.

Start with the first line and write from that. (Seems obvious, right? It’s the beginning of your  poem.)

Or, if your poem is really long, choose a handful of lines or look for trapdoors–places where the poem could go in a different direction.

Write until you have nothing else to say from that line, but stretch it out as long as you can.

Proceed to the next line, and write from that.


The goal is that you’ll have a lot of material. Then you’ll have to pare it back, make choices. But that’s usually easier than getting it down in the first place–at least, for me.

(Some people can write all of this in one go. I usually can’t, so this is my workaround.)

Did the poem find new textures, new places to go?