To help demystify the insidious art of writing verse, we chatted with Reedsy editor program ( and published poet ) Lauren Stroh. in concert, we ‘ve put together these 8-steps for writing a poem :
1. Brainstorm your starting point
If you ’ rhenium struggling to write your poem in order from the first argumentation to the last, a good trick is opening with whichever starting point your brain can latch onto as it learns to think in verse.
Your starting decimal point can be a lineage or a phrase you want to work into your poem, though it doesn ’ t have to take the form of speech at all. It might be a movie in your head, american samoa especial as the curl of hair over your daughter ’ s ear as she sleeps, or a capacious as the ocean. It can even be a complicate feel you want to render with preciseness — or maybe it ‘s a memory you return to again and again. Think of this starting point as the “ why ” behind your poem, your impulse for writing it in the foremost topographic point .
If you ’ re worry your starting point international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine thousand adequate to merit an integral poem, stop right there. After all, literary giants have wrung verse out of every subject under the sun, from the disappointments of a post-Odyssey Odysseus to illegally eaten refrigerated plums .
Tennyson, Queen Victoria’s poet laureate, revisits an ancient literary classic in this blank-verse piece about what happens after the happily ever after.
As Lauren Stroh sees it, your know is more than worthy of being immortalized in poetry .
“ I think the most successful poems articulate something true about the human know and help us look at the everyday universe in new and arouse ways. ”
2. Free-write in prose first
It may seem counterintuitive but if you struggle to write down lines that resonate, possibly start with some prose writing foremost. Take this time to delve into the picture, impression, or composition at the heart of your poem, and learn to pin it down with lyric. Give yourself a luck to mull things over before actually writing the poem .
Take 10 minutes and jot down anything that comes to mind when you think of your starting charge. You can write in paragraph, dash off bullet train points, or even sketch out a beware map. The purpose of this exert international relations and security network ’ metric ton to produce an outline : it ’ south to generate a treasure trove of bare-assed material, a repertoire of loosely connected fragments to draw upon as you draft your poem in dear .
Silence your inner critic for now
And since this is raw material, the last matter you should do is censor yourself. Catch yourself scoffing at a turn of phrase, overthinking a rhetorical device, or mentally gripe, “ This metaphor will never make it into the final draft ” ? Tell that inner critic to hush for nowadays and jot it down anyhow. You just might be able to refine that bang, ad-lib idea into a sharp and affecting line .
3. Choose your poem’s form and style
Whether you ’ ve free-written your direction to a beginning or you ’ ve got a couple of lines jotted down, before you complete a whole first enlist of your poem, take some time to think about form and style .
The form of a poem often carries a lot of meaning beyond the geomorphologic “ rules ” that it offers the writer. The verse patterns of sonnets — and the shakespearian influence over the form — normally lend themselves to passionate pronouncements of love, whether gay or black. On the other hand, word square poems are much more brash because of the clandestine think of that it hides in plain sight .
even if your material beg for a poem without courtly restrictions, you ’ ll still have to decide on the texture and spirit of your language. barren verse, after all, is as divers a form as the novel, ranging from the breathless maximalism of Walt Whitman to the cool austerity of H.D. Where, on this spectrum, will your poem decrease ?
H.D. — the pen name of poet Hilda Doolittle — relies on spare language and concrete imagery in her work.
Choosing a human body and tone for your poem early on can help you work with some kind of structure to imbue more meanings to your lines. And if you ’ ve used free-writing to generate some raw material for yourself, a structure can give you the guidance you need to organize your notes into a poem .
4. Read for inspiration
A poem international relations and security network ’ t a nonfiction koran or a historical fresh : you don ’ t have to accumulate reams of research to write a good one. That said, a little snatch of external read can stave off writer ’ randomness jam and keep you inspired throughout the spell summons .
Build a short, personalize course of study around your poem ’ s form and subject. Say you ’ re writing a sensorily rich, linguistically spare part act of free verse about a relationship of common jealousy between beget and daughter. In that subject, you ’ ll want to read some key Imagist poems, aboard some poems that sketch out complicated visions of parenthood in tough-minded terms .
Ezra Pound’s classic two-line poem shows Imagism at work, with its everyday language and evocative imagery.
And if you don ’ metric ton want to limit yourself to poems like in human body and style to your own, Lauren has you covered with an general-purpose read tilt :
5. Write for an audience of one — you
tied with formulation, the atmospheric pressure of actually producing verse can distillery awaken your inner metrophobe ( or poetry-fearer ). What if people don ’ thyroxine understand — or evening misinterpret — what you ’ re trying to say ? What if they don ’ t feel drawn to your work ? To keep the anxiety at bay, Lauren suggests writing for yourself, not for an external audience .
“ I absolutely believe that poets can determine the robustness of their own achiever if they are changed by the work they are producing themselves ; if they are challenged by it ; or if it calls into wonder their ethics, their habits, or their kinship to the live world. And personally, my life has surely been changed by certain lines I ’ ve had the courage to think and then write — and those moments are when I ’ ve felt most like I ’ ve made it. ”
You might finally polish your work if you decide to publish your poetry down the lineage. ( If you do, decidedly check out the rest of this usher for tips and a list of magazines to submit to. ) But as your first gear conscription comes together, treat it like it ’ s entail for your eyes only.
6. Read your poem out loud
A good poem doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate have to be pretty : possibly an easy, melodious comeliness international relations and security network ’ t your aim. It should, however, come alive on the page with a consciously crafted rhythm, whether hymn-like or discordant. To achieve that, read your poem out brassy — at first, note by cable, and then all together, as a complete text .
Emily Dickinson was known for the extraordinary musicality of her verses.
Trying out every trace against your ear can help you weigh out a choice between synonym — getting you to notice, say, the watery sound of “ arctic ”, the brittleness of “ icy, ” the solidity of “ cold ” .
Reading out loud can besides help you trouble-shoot wrinkle breaks that merely do n’t feel right. Is the tune artificially long, forcing you to rush through it or pause in the center for a hurried inhale ? If so, do you like that destabilizing effect, or do you want to literally give the lector some board to breathe ? Testing these variations aloud is possibly the entirely way to answer questions like these .
7. Take a break to refresh your mind
While it ’ randomness fabulously exciting to complete a enlist of your poem, and you might be itching to dive binding in and edit it, it ’ second always advisable to take a interrupt foremost. You don ’ t have to turn completely away from writing if you don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate want to. Take a workweek to chip aside at your fresh or even muse idly on your adjacent poetic stick out — so long as you distance yourself from this poem a short while .
This is because, by this point, you ’ ve credibly read out every note so many times the intend has leached out of the syllables. With the time away, you let your judgment refresh so that you can approach the part with sharper attention and more ideas to refine it .
8. Have fun revising your poem
At the end of the sidereal day, even if you write in a well-established mannequin, poetry is about experimenting with terminology, both written and spoken. Lauren emphasizes that revising a poem is thus an open-ended process that requires patience — and a sense of play .
“ Have fun. Play. Be patient. Don ’ t take it badly, or do. Though poems may look shorter than what you ’ re used to writing, they much take years to be what they very are. They change and evolve. The most crucial thing is to find a quiet place where you can be with yourself and in truth listen. ”
Is it time to get other people involved?
Want another pair of eyes on your poem during this march ? You have options. You can swap pieces with a beta subscriber, workshop it with a review group, or even engage a professional poetry editor like Lauren to refine your work — a firm option if you plan to submit it to a journal or turn it into the foundation garment for a chapbook .
Want a poetry expert to polish up your verse?
professional poetry editors are on Reedsy. Sign up for free to meet them !
Learn how Reedsy can help you craft a beautiful bible .
The working poet’s checklist
If you decide to fly solo, here ’ s a checklist to work through as you revise :
✅ Hunt for clichés. Did you find yourself reaching for ready-made idioms at any point ? Go back to the sentiment you were grappling with and try to capture it in stronger, more bright terms .
✅ See if your poem begins where it should. Did you take a few lines of throat-clearing to get to the actual point ? Try starting your poem further down .
✅ Make surely every line belongs. As you read each line, ask yourself : how does this contribute to the poem as a whole ? Does it advance the theme, clarify the imagination, set or subvert the reader ’ mho expectations ? If you answer with something like, “ It makes the poem voice decent, ” see cutting it.
Read more: 5 Easy Ways to Cut Metal Safely
once you ’ ve worked your way through this checklist, feel absolve to brew yourself a cup of tea and baby-sit quietly for a while, reflecting on your literary exuberate .
Whether these poetry writing tips have awakened your inner Wordsworth, or sent you happily gamboling back to prose, we hope you enjoy playing with poetry — and that you learned something newfangled about your approach to language .
And if you are looking to contribution your poetry with the global, the following post in this scout can show the ropes regarding how to publish your poems !