Poetry is meant to project an image or a visual story in the minds of your readers. For first-timers, writing a poem can be quite frightening. It is because poetry writing is confined under the limitations of many rules. However, if you just follow the rules, you won’t be able to write a poem. It’s overwhelmingly confusing. Poetry is meant to be strong and meaningful. But really, it is meant to be anything you want it to be.
If you have decided to learn how to write a poem, be cautioned that the first few times will not be easy. The journey however will be very fulfilling. It will help you unlock new levels of your creative prowess. Learning how to write a poem will also strengthen your visual writing skills. You will be able to concretely convey your ideas with much concision. By knowing how to write a poem, you have the power to connect with people you’ve never met before, all through your words. It helps you channel your emotions, stories, and observations in a beautiful manner. Whether you write full-time or for leisure, poetry will become an outlet for your creativity and passion. Here’s more on how to write a poem in seven steps.
1. Brainstorm For Ideas
Poetry writing ideas may come out of nowhere. It could be a persistent thought or intriguing image that you can’t seem to stop thinking about. The next time you have an interesting thought, jot it down in a notebook or anywhere you like. Before you get into how to write a poem, here are some ways you can come up with some new ideas or develop on existing ones.
- Make a list of things you could write a poem about. It may be a situation or incident that taught you some unforgettable lessons. Or, it could be as simple as a bird you saw in the park earlier.
- Start with one of these ideas, and create a mind map. Write down any branching ideas or images that you associate with the original idea. You can get as specific as you like with this part. You may even get an outstanding phrase or verse in a spontaneous thought.
- Use writing prompts to stimulate your mind and get your creative wheels turning. There are several writing prompts to choose from online. You could try the “Visual Writing Challenge”, “Poetry on Hope” and many more.
- This is more of a bonus point. Before you pen down the perfect poem, take some challenges. This exercise will help you refine your poetic repertoire. Expressing complex emotions like love on a paper can be a very daunting task. Challenges like “Love Beyond Boundaries” make it easy. You may even learn how to write a poem about love without even realizing it.
2. Get Inspired To Write
Inspiration to write your poem is all around you. The unlikeliest corners can be hiding your muse. You have to develop the art of identifying the inspiration. Here are a few ways you can seek it out and use it for the best.
- Read a lot of work by other writers. Writing a poem doesn’t need a lot of research. But it helps to read what other people have written about this topic or idea. It doesn’t have to be poetry related to your specific idea. Read anything that fascinates and drives you.
- You may find inspiration from a list of soulful quotes on Instagram or GoSocial. You can read the work of other writers for the same prompts as you. These interesting reads can give you diverse views on your topic and get you started on how to write a poem.
- Take a long stroll, visit your favorite places, and do the activities you enjoy. The people you meet and the sights you see can definitely serve as sources of inspiration.
3. Choose a Starting Point And Free-Write
We often tend to tackle a poem from the start and then gradually move towards the end. This is a very common mistake. You do not have to structure your poem at the very beginning of this process. If you have some riveting thoughts and feelings about a particular aspect of your idea, choose that as your starting point.
Write your heart out and do your best to describe this idea with any words or imagery. In this phase, you don’t have to overthink your grammar or choice of words. You can write without any mental filters barring your inner thoughts and feelings.
You can take up the “FreeWriting Poetry Challenge” as an exercise. The challenge allows you to candidly express your interpretation of your idea. This can prove a crucial step in the process of learning how to write a poem.
4. Choose Your Style and Form
Now that we have covered the basics of poem writing, it’s time to fix what style you would like your poem to be in. There are several poetic forms to choose from.
- If you would like a form that is relatively easy to use, try free verse. They are naturalistic and have an unrestrained style.
- If you want your poem to take a lyrical style, try a sonnet, ballad, or a rhyming couplet. These are great styles to try when you’re learning how to write a poem about love.
- If you’re looking to write something more light and playful, choose a limerick form.
- You can take a shot at how to write a short poem, with a haiku or cinquain.
It may be a bit frustrating to find a structure for your poem. But it is important to present it cohesively to your readers. Once you choose a particular style, you can tweak it a little and personalize it as you wish.
5. Write Your Poem
With the big block of raw content, and a style to shape it, it’s time to start sculpting it. This is the stage where you actually write your poem. Here are a few tips on how to write a poem.
- Write for yourself, and not for an audience. This is how you can initially reduce the pressure to produce perfect verses.
Published poet Lauren Stroh says “I absolutely believe that poets can determine the validity of their own success if they are changed by the work they are producing themselves, if they are challenged by it, if it calls into question their ethics, their habits, or their relationship to the living world.”
- Instead of abstract words, go for concrete imagery in your poetry. Describe the elements of your poem vividly and bring them to life through your words.
- Use literary devices like similes, metaphors, and alliterations. This is important when you’re learning how to write a poem that is engaging and lively.
6. Read Your Poem Out Loud
Once you have a completed draft of your work, read it out to yourself. Read it line by line first, and then move on to the complete poem. Hearing your words ring out loudly will help you understand how to make them better. This way, you can inspect any lines that sound odd or awkward.
You start to question if the flow and feel of the poem are on point or if they need improvement. Better alternatives might occur to you in the form of synonyms and enhanced word choice. Keep a pen with you to write these changes down and improve the quality of each line, wherever needed.
7. Revise and Refine
This is the last step towards a complete poem. In this stage, you could show your poem to your peers in a poetry writing group or other poets you may know. Oftentimes, you may need to see your poem objectively, from another point of view and not your own. This is how you can get plenty of helpful suggestions on how to refine your poem.
Use the feedback you receive to drop any lines that feel confusing or out of place. Although it is disappointing to have to cut out your favorite lines, you must look at the bigger picture. Every line of your poem has to contribute to your overall theme or idea. Remove any clichés or redundant phrases.
Learning how to write a poem can be quite tricky and puzzling at times. But once you’ve practiced these steps, writing poetry will come naturally to you. A perfect poem is like an art. To master it, you must know the nuances and practice frequently. You can turn to platforms like Instagram, GoSocial and Medium to get inspired. GoSocial allows you to take creative writing challenges and build a community of like-minded writers. You can use innovative prompts and get constructive feedback from your network.
And, if you’re worried that your idea isn’t mind-blowing and grand enough to make a great poem, stop right there. Poets all over the world have written about almost anything under the sun, and done it well. It’s not about portraying only spellbinding ideas. It’s about highlighting mundane issues in a refreshing, exciting way. It’s time to let go of your inhibitions and share your perspectives with the world, through poetry.