Trust the Words


When I write poetry, I try not to have a set conclusion in mind. I may start with some words or have an idea for an ending, but I don’t want to be tied to them. The words are a starting point. They may appear in a final draft, but they may not.

It took me a while to trust that the words would come of their own accord. The style isn’t free writing, which is an exercise some writers swear by. It isn’t a comfortable mode for me. Neither is waiting for the right mood or inspiration. I align more with the idea that the act of writing, in and of itself, frees me to search for and find the right words. I know they’re there if I can write just long enough to get out of my own way.

Perhaps that’s the key: I try to remove myself from the equation. I let go of the self with all its worries and doubts and distrust. I quit trusting in myself and put my trust in the words. It’s a difficult journey; each time I start a new poem, I’m in the dark. I stumble and bang my shin on an offending coffee table, but I eventually find a way forward. Every word is a groping toward something, a hope that trusting in them will cause the right words to appear, the ones that surprise me but are the ones I need in that moment. Such words can be filled with anguish – my poetry is not often happy. It wrestles and claws. It’s raw and bloodied. It occasionally escapes itself into joy, delight. I know, though, that while my poetry may be what is termed “dark,” the words are the right ones. They don’t hold back. They don’t offer the security of pretense. They illuminate a thing, and that illumination provides the certainty that there is light, there is hope, and both can be found if I trust the words rather than myself.

Image: Artem Popov (Creative Commons)


  1. AnnetteClark says:

    Good article!

  2. AnnetteClark Glad you think so.

  3. AnnetteClark says:

    Erin F. AnnetteClark right now all I can write is:
    My poetry is gone, the breaths I live on.
    (it does seem I need it to survive but words aren’t near me today and makes me a bit sad)

  4. AnnetteClark I missed this comment somehow. Sorry about that. I think the poetry will come back to you because you’re dedicated to it. Sometimes, too, the words we struggle to write become our strongest ones simply because we struggled and overcame.