Posted in Poetry

Breaking Writing Rules (and a poetry contest)

e.e. cummings changed the way I write. You are allowed to do that? I thought.  It was my first time seeing a rule breaking writer.  He wrote everything in lower case letters.  Being a bit of a rule breaker myself, I loved him instantly.

“let’s live suddenly without thinking…” e e cummings


I started writing when I was nine years old as I described to you before (click here to read) and had steadily been taking in the knowledge of my teachers.  Paragraphs, spelling, diagraming sentences, proper pronouns and tense.  I spent my time at the park on the weekends feeding the squirrels and writing poetry.  I never had a tremendous amount of friends so I had plenty of time to write and dream and befriend the squirrels.  I was able to take the ABAC format of a poem and discard it.  Some poems all rhymed, some not at all.  Wisps of thoughts and dreams, and especially symbolism, which is my favorite literary tool, came to life on paper.  I used symbolism heavily in the poem I wrote for yesterday’s blog post.  A direct parallel.

Later in high school I learned I could get away with making up words and no one was the wiser.  Written just right, it appeared to be a proper word and the meaning was evident so it was overlooked.  Still today, in this blog you may find made up words that really ought to be real words.

Then college came later.  An English major with too much imagination doesn’t do as well as one would think.  You must wright like THIS.  No emotional connection to one’s writing.  No clichés.  No….I dropped out and became a writing, teaching herbalist.  After twenty years of writing, I didn’t need a professor to tell me that I was writing all wrong.


There is no wrong way to write.  It is art.  A few people have told me they wish they could write a blog.  It is free.  Do it!  Writing helps to clarify our thoughts, helps us learn, helps us see things in new lights, helps us reach out to other people.  Not just squirrels.  Write about things you know.  That is one of the best pieces of advice I received from a teacher.  Mrs. Ling was ever patient with us freshmen.  We learned sign language and passed notes and talked in class the entire time.  But even with all the distractions, I learned a great deal on how to write successfully from her.

Don’t want to use capital letters?  Fine.  Don’t want to speak in proper tense, want to make up words, want to use clichés?  Fine.  Just write.  It is one of the freest activities for the mind and spirit one can find.

In honor of this, I invite you to write a poem in the comments.  We’ll call it a contest, but it is an expression.  And everyone is a winner.  I will create a basket of goodies from my farm as the prize for the one that speaks to me personally the most.  Write away!


Katie Lynn Sanders is the author of seven books, has been a speaker on sustainable living, and loves all things wine, regenerative agriculture, homesteading, travel, food, arts, crafts, books, and finding enchantment and inspiration in the smallest things. She lives on a one acre farm and vineyard, Pumpkin Hollow Farm, with her husband, fourteen chickens, three ducks, a giant Pyrenees, two goats, five cats, and visiting children and grandchildren in southern Colorado.

8 thoughts on “Breaking Writing Rules (and a poetry contest)

  1. “ahhh the time has come again”, my cold toes yawn.
    They escape their warm cocoon and reach for the smooth and warm wood.
    slowly but surly step by step reaching for their destination.
    today they find a cold boot still slightly wet from the night before.
    the back door quietly creeks open, so not to wake the sleepy house, and the cool air awakens the rest of the body.
    a deep breathe of the cool air enters the lungs and we are ready to start the day.
    “Good morning”, my lungs say.
    I think I will let the chickens out first.

  2. Springing to life, the earth feels renewed
    Joy of heart, my body hath spewed
    Wonderful springtime, as breezes thus blow
    Giving new beauty, to earth down below.

    I can’t remember the last time I wrote a poem. I think my poetry needs some work 🙂

  3. I watch the littlest duckling
    With worried eyes
    She hangs back as if afraid
    Of getting trampled again
    Which makes sense
    What the chicken did
    And how the other ducklings panicked
    And she ended up
    At the bottom of the heap

    She is wary and cautious
    And does not dash in quickly
    When the dandelion greens are laid down
    In the water
    But the others do
    And get them on their backs
    And on the sand
    And that is when she moves in
    Picking up the pieces
    That they drop

    She is finding a way
    To thrive
    Despite all that has happened to her
    Patience in the face
    Of adversity and disability
    And I know that I
    Feel a connection
    With the littlest duckling
    Who does things differently than she used to
    Just like me

      1. You’re welcome. Funny thing is I wrote it last night, before I got to this entry, but it seemed like the perfect thing for this.

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