How to Write Poems

Below is what helps me to write,
Please post what helps you to write.

It really is much easier to write poetry than one may initially think.

Getting the Creative Juices Flowing

  • To get the creative juices flowing write three pages of mind spill in a full size notebook every morning right when you wake up.  (Mind spill is writing whatever comes to you without editing or trying to be creative.  These pages are not meant to be great works of art but instead they are meant to help empty your mind.  It is what Julia Cameron in her book “Artist’s Way” calls morning pages.)
  • Do your mind spill pages for at least a week.

Writing Your Poem

  • Then think of something that you feel very passionate about. Write that at the top of the page.  Then write down any words or phrases that come up when you think of the thing that you feel passionate about. DO NOT edit.
  • When you feel like you have written down everything that has to do with what you feel passionate about, ask yourself, “What else comes to me when I think of this?” and write some more words and phrases.   Then one more time ask yourself, “What else?”
  • Then read all of those words and phrases back to yourself and take a deep breath and close your eyes.
  • Keep breathing with your eyes closed and see in front of you an empty stage.  The curtain opens and what do you see or hear?  Keep breathing deeply.  Just view and/or listen.
  • When you are ready, open your eyes and write down whatever came to you.   Now IS NOT the time to edit.
  • Your internal editor (the part of you that may be saying how awful what you are writing right now) may be telling you what you are writing is terrible.  Tell it thanks and keep allowing whatever is coming to you to come to you and write it down.
  • Remember, poems do not need to rhyme or even have the perfect rhythm, they only need your rhythm.  Allow the poem itself to dictate what comes next. When you feel that your poem is finished, take a breath and be grateful.

Editing Your Poem

  • Now is the time to read what you wrote and see if anything needs clarification or editing to make it more understandable or to flow with your own beat better.  When you feel that you have done as much as you can, put the poem aside for the rest of the day.
  • Celebrate!!!
  • The next morning after writing your three pages of mind spill, pick up your poem and read it, does it say what you want it to say and feel how you want it to feel, then you are done if not.
  • Look at the first four lines, do they feel right? If so go onto the next four, if not ask yourself, what do I need to do to get the point across, do I need a simile or a metaphor, or do I have too many adjectives (it is common for beginning writers to put too many adjectives or adverbs in and it can feel fake).  Listen to your gut.
  • When you feel that you are done for the day. Put the poem aside.   If it needs more work repeat the next morning.

Listening to Inspiration

  • Also listen for inspiration on your poems at any time the inspiration may come to you. Try to take a moment and write down the poem or thought that comes to you, allow the poem to feel like it was given to you as a gift.  Accepting that gift is taking the time to write it down when it comes to you.

When you are done with your poem celebrate your success. Be careful who you share your first poems with, external critics can be as harmful as internal ones, so in the beginning share it only with supportive people.

3 thoughts on “How to Write Poems

  1. Hi. I have a question! To the rest of the world the poem is something that consists of the rhyme and rhythm…

    For exmaple:

    Robert Burns
    Poortith Cauld And Restless Love

    O poortith cauld, and restless love,
    Ye wrack my peace between ye;
    Yet poortith a’ I could forgive,
    An ’twere na for my Jeanie.

    The warld’s wealth, when I think on,
    It’s pride and a’ the lave o’t;
    O fie on silly coward man,
    That he should be the slave o’t!
    O why, &c.

    Or William Shakespeare

    Even as the sun with purple-colour’d face
    Had ta’en his last leave of the weeping morn,
    Rose-cheek’d Adonis hied him to the chase;
    Hunting he loved, but love he laugh’d to scorn;
    Sick-thoughted Venus makes amain unto him,
    And like a bold-faced suitor ‘gins to woo him.

    Or Lord Byron

    WHEN we two parted
    In silence and tears,
    Half broken-hearted
    To sever for years,
    Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
    Colder thy kiss;
    Truly that hour foretold
    Sorrow to this.

    The dew of the morning
    Sunk chill on my brow–
    It felt like the warning
    Of what I feel now.
    Thy vows are all broken,
    And light is thy fame:
    I hear thy name spoken,
    And share in its shame.

    …How come that it’s a must for the rest of the world to have poems to have rhyme and rhythm, but in USA poems are just a piece of prose weirdly separated into lines to make them look like a real poem? What makes these “poems” different from short stories or simple written down thoughts?

    Sincerely, Gino Androsyan

    1. Hi Gino,

      Thanks for your comment, it got me to do a bit of research on the subject of rhyming versus non-rhyming poetry. The first type of poetry that came to mind that does not rhyme would be haiku.

      Then I also found these interesting excerpts from wikipedia:
      “Ancient Hebrew verse generally did not employ rhyme. However, many Jewish liturgical poems rhyme today, because they were written in medieval Europe, where rhymes were in vogue.”

      “In many languages, including modern European languages and Arabic, poets use rhyme in set patterns as a structural element for specific poetic forms, such as ballads, sonnets and rhyming couplets. However, the use of structural rhyme is not universal even within the European tradition. Much modern poetry avoids traditional rhyme schemes. Classical Greek and Latin poetry did not use rhyme. Rhyme entered European poetry in the High Middle Ages, in part under the influence of the Arabic language in Al Andalus (modern Spain).[55] Arabic language poets used rhyme extensively from the first development of literary Arabic in the sixth century, as in their long, rhyming qasidas. Some rhyming schemes have become associated with a specific language, culture or period, while other rhyming schemes have achieved use across languages, cultures or time periods. Some forms of poetry carry a consistent and well-defined rhyming scheme, such as the chant royal or the rubaiyat, while other poetic forms have variable rhyme schemes.”

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