Ever wanted to try your hand at writing poetry but didn’t know where to start? Some people like to think that when it comes to writing, you either have it or you don’t. But I believe otherwise! Everyone is capable of writing a poem, short story, or any other type of writing. Here are a few tips what worked for me and hopefully they will help you get started.
1. Writing every day while good, is not a requirement.
There will always be times when you have to force yourself to write. I’ve discovered however that forced writing is rarely good writing. In my high school freshman English class, my teacher had all of the students write a poem on anything we wanted, but it had to be in a poetic form like a sonnet or haiku. At the time, I had just started getting into poetry and I had no structure – my poems were all free verse and I absolutely dreaded writing the assigned poem. In the end, it wasn’t horrible. It was witty, rhymed and fairly entertaining, but the process was stressful. Point being: don’t strain yourself or force creativity. If you want to build the habit of writing every day, go for it! But if you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up about it.
2. Be open to vulnerability.
Personal writing can be a bit scary. Being open about your feelings can be strange at first and you might fear judgement but that is the cool thing about it. And for me, that’s the beauty of poetry. You are allowing others to see you bare and everything you write is raw and “you.” Cherish your ability to be open.
3. Always write down ideas.
Anytime I get an idea for a poem, I write it down the first chance I get. I literally write down anything whether it be a word, a phrase or one-liners that I could possibly use in the future. I used to have little pieces of papers in my purse and my mom would often pull out papers from my clothes’ pockets before washing them. Until more recently, I bought myself a little notebook and I carry everywhere just in case I get spontaneously creative.
4. If you find yourself with writer’s block, write down anything.
Sometimes when ideas don’t come to me for a poem, I begin journaling about my day or something that has happened recently. Try this. It can be about anything. Even if ideas don’t come to you right away, it’s always refreshing to release anything that might have been held in.
5. Writing in a certain form is NOT essential.
I used to think that for a poem to be a poem, it had to be formal like a sonnet and it needed an iambic pentameter, with proper grammar/punctuation. Or that I had to rhyme all the time! But the amazing thing about writing poetry is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Every poet has their own style and form. So experiment and find your own.
6. Read other people’s work.
Always and everywhere, whether it’s a Pulitzer Prize winner or a New York Times Best Selling Author or someone’s blog, reading the poetry of others may help you with your own poetry. Their pieces may inspire you or teach you a new technique of writing. And even if it doesn’t, it’s always good to support fellow poets!
Need more tips? Check out Writing Forward.