Last week got out of hand with my new schedule at IAIA. I wanted to talk about so many things connected with that, some new poems I've come across, some thoughts about the amazing places life sends you when you open up your ideas for the future. Hopefully in the coming weeks...
In the meantime, we haven't spent much time talking about life tips for poets.
I'm a firm believer that any attempt to improve your writing will fail if you don't attempt to improve one or more of the following:
a) your thinking (because if your thinking sucks, your writing will suck),
b) your thinking as it relates to the spiritual (say, for instance, you feel emotionally or intellectually stuck in some way), or
c) your understanding of the way you think.
And one of the best tools to zero-in on item c is with the book Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. The results for the Strengths Finder tests actually go back to years of Gallup polling and the idea is once you identify your strengths, you can put more of your energy behind those strengths instead of trying to fix your weaknesses. It's about energy management.
And when the book talks about "strengths," this don't mean something like "I'm a strong writer" or "I have leadership skills." The kind of strengths categorized in this book deal with the way your brain organizes information and the way you understand the world. Learning my strengths was illuminating for me because it showed me why I gravitate to poetry, it showed me that I am strong in "Connection," meaning I like to take disparate things and connect them together...naturally I do this. This means, however, I'm not so strong in seeing differences. My brain looks for similarities. I may be strong in putting together metaphors but I need extra help with characterization. I also scored a strength in "Input" which explains why I feel the need to read 41 books on a topic before I feel like I get it, why it's hard for me to stop researching and start writing.
This kind of self-awareness helps me understand even my weaknesses better.
The drag about Strengths Finders is that you have to buy the book to get the unique code to take the test (which takes about 30 minutes). You cannot borrow a book and re-use a test code: total waste of paper and eBook purchasing on the one hand; brilliant strategy for book sales on the other.