writing poetry

Writing Poetry 101

Poetry is one of those forms of writing that even those with enhanced literary skills claim they fail to understand. For the average person that isn’t book-inclined, it’s even more intimidating. I hear time and time again that people wish they could write poetry the way one author or another does. The truth is that poetry is for everyone.

So what if you can’t understand “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman or Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” What you can understand is what speaks to you. Even if it’s not what the poet intended, words will move your soul.

Words can also help heal your soul or help you work through a hard decision or transition in your life.

Honestly, to start off the best thing to do is write a blackout poem or two. Pick out words on a page that speak to you and isolate them. See if you can create a poem from it.

Using your own words in poem format to vent, work through an emotion or describe something extremely beautiful or terribly ugly isn’t hard. The main thing to always keep in mind is that you should write poetry for yourself, and yourself alone. It’s all for you. All you have to do is follow 5 simple steps.

Steps for Writing Poetry

  1. Meditate: It sounds so clich√©, but sit in a quiet room with thought stimulating music on (the fewer words the better) and just let your thoughts flow. Get to the point where they are flowing freely and try to visualize words as they come to you. Once you get to this stage, start writing those words down. Try to stay focused on descriptive, emotionally charged and significant words only. The fillers will come later. This is called free writing. You’re allowing your mind to freely write what you feel or see.
  2. Write: Once you have a list of words, start thinking of how they go together. What did they mean to you? What do you see visually when you look at them? How can you put them together so the reader sees it too? Don’t worry so much about the reader as yourself. If you read what you wrote and it makes sense to you, then it’s good. Your poetry is for you. Never forget that.
  3. Read: Read what you wrote. Tweak it so it flows. Say it out loud and listen to the flow. Does it sound awkward to you or does it make sense? Does it have a musical quality or is it choppy? Sometimes poetry is meant to sound harsh depending on what emotion or depiction is captured.
  4. Edit: Change anything you found from the previous step that you didn’t like or thought needed changing. Editing is probably the most important step in writing poetry. You will repeat steps 3 and 4 over and over until you feel like your poem is complete. Don’t worry if you pick it up a few days later and discover something else to edit. That’s usually how it always is. Poetry is a living form of art, never truly complete, but as complete as your emotional status will allow.
  5. Read: Finally, you will have one last read-through. At this time, read the poem in your head and out loud. When you’re satisfied, you know you’re done.

Now you have written your very own poem. You can either save them privately or upload them to a social site that allows anonymity, like Tumblr. If you’re brave you can even share on Facebook with your friends.

Leave a comment and let me know what other tips you can think of for writing poetry or to ask a question!