When do you know you've reached the end of a poem? And how do you keep yourself from hating everything you've ever written?
Let me tell you, if you love what you’ve written, you’re not a writer.
Writers are self-motivated learners who strive for perfection, despite never being able to attain it. No matter how many fans a writer may have, he/she will not be his/her own fan. However, if you’ve seen Midnight in Paris, Ernest Hemingway’s character says, “If you are a writer, declare yourself the best writer.”
Somehow, the film’s quote resonates with me as well. Writers need confidence to leave an impression. They cannot go around describing themselves as “aspiring.”
In reality, there needs to be some kind of happy medium. Writers must be confident so that they can end a piece with confidence and convince readers that what they’ve written is good, meaningful, and most of all: a clean, finished piece of work. But at the same time, they must be able to understand the need to throw out bulky chunks of their precious work to start anew and rewrite when required.
In the beginning, you are going to write crappy poems. Years down the line, you are going to write crappy poems (but probably not as often). It sounds depressing, but I mean it when I say that being able to find the end of a poem or a story takes practice. It takes a lot of reading.
You need to read great poetry and works and memorize them. This gets a bunch of poetic rhythms in your head that (are stored subconsciously) and show when you write your own poetry. Poetry tends to be circular in shape—the ending brings back the beginning and the references within the poem should correlate to the central meaning.
But really, it’s just practice. Practice and restraint. Because truthfully, to you, as the poet, that poem will never be finished. That one line could always be rewritten. Something will always be missing. It takes restraint to tell yourself that you’ve done all you can do with it at the moment, set the poem aside, and maybe come back to it down the line.