Updated: Jun 2, 2022
Having lifted weights since high school and, as of late, started to compete in powerlifting, I feel led to believe my two passions overlap in startling fashion. For example:
Mastering the technique certain lifts require is a skill. Practice makes the weights increase while form is kept as high quality as possible. But sometimes, progress will stall, and an age-old fix will be to implement other, similar but different movements, to drive growth and neuromuscular adaptations to the body.
Writing is a skill; It takes practice to develop it. And as you practice that skill, your ability to see and convey an image/ story improves. And sometimes, when progress stalls, implementing new techniques to 'shock the muscle' can help breathe fresh life into that skill.
I believe that poetry can be a fantastic way to open your fiction writing up. However, you might not like to write poetry, or you find yourself perplexed by its impossibly complex process. After all, every word means so much more, because there are (on average) much fewer words on the page that are used to convey an idea or image. You can't just become a poet! That's not how it works! Poetry, however, like any form of prose, is a very wide umbrella.
An old technique I learned at the beginning of my poetry soiree was to make 'list' poems; Quite literally, make a list of like things. Then a grocery list. Then a list of words that make you feel a certain emotion, then another where all the words point to a certain situation. You can constantly escalate this type of poem!
Another type of poem was where the first line of every couplet was the same (and a prompt, of sorts) where the first line would be 'When I was young,' followed by a memory as the next line. This is both poetry and a sort of journaling! You can get creative with this and begin to connect your memories and braid a story together.
Taking your thoughts and breaking them down by crafting them like this instead of scene by scene or story by story can help your mind relax and lose the fear of trying to tackle too much of a project at once (or more fitting here, trying to lift more than you can carry). You can then focus on injecting common poetry devices like alliteration, metaphors, or onomatopoeias to let your writing pop, to really stick with readers. Practice these with your poetry musings first, then gradually transition them into your fiction! Sprinkle in a sensory descriptor to these devices and have your reader truly hooked!
You can swap the types of prose out and I am confident the result will be positive. For example, adding short fiction writing to your poetry routine can help you understand the elements of what makes stories compelling and what makes them stand out.
Writing is, at the end of every day, highly subjective, but confining yourself to a small niche of a style of writing is only limiting your strength. Lift some weight! Try new things! Experiment! It's all about improving, not specializing.