For some people, poetry is a form of self-expression and is a resource to make sense of their thoughts, but for others, it can simply be a school assignment. Whatever the reason, the origin of poetry spans back to 1200 B.C. and has been a form of storytelling for people since the beginning of time. But when you’re first starting, it can seem like a daunting and scary task, so I like to break it up into smaller and more manageable chunks.
- Draw a picture
When I first get an idea for a poem, I start by drawing a picture of the subject of my poem. Keep in mind, this drawing doesn’t have to be your best work, just something that will get the point across for you and help you direct your piece. The subject of the image also doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary, some of the best poems come from writing about mundane things. Drawing a picture gives you a chance to visualize your subject and brainstorm ideas for the poem. This is also a great time to think of the concept you would like to base your story around and add details to your picture that you would like to include when you’re writing.
- Write about your topic freely
Starting can be difficult, especially when you directly jump into writing the poem. So instead, give yourself 5-10 minutes to write down (or type) anything that comes to mind when you think of your subject. The point of this is to create raw material that you can use in your poem. It does not have to be organized! You can use quick bullet points to jot these ideas down. The most crucial part about this section is to not censor anything you write down; if a thought pops into your head- write it down. Do not overthink metaphors or phrases because you never know what might be useful for your poem.
- Choose a style
Once your time is up, you can decide how you want to format your poem. Do you want your poem to be structured in blank verse with rhyme patterns and syllable rules? Or do you want to write free-verse without any restrictions? Whatever style or direction you decide to take is completely decided by the direction and tone you want your poem to take.
- Start writing
When you start writing, it is important that you just write for yourself! Poetry is meant to be an enjoyable way to express your thoughts. But this first draft can be the cause of stress and anxiety for many people, who feel the pressure of producing outstanding work on the first try. But that often leads to subpar work, so you must write this first draft solely for yourself. Writing for yourself can be just as validating as writing for other people and if you are looking to publish your work, you could then polish it further.
- Read it out loud and edit
Once you finish your first draft, it is time to read it out loud! Reading your work can help you check your rhythm and spot and places where your poem doesn’t flow. This is the perfect time to check for synonyms that might fit your tone or rhythm better. Once you have read it out loud, make sure you take a break. Put your work away for a few days and refresh your mind before you start to edit. When you finish revising your poem, consider giving it to a friend or fellow writer to read and edit. This will give you a fresh pair of eyes and some constructive feedback!
In the end, poetry is meant to be enjoyable so don’t overthink it! There are no hard and fast rules and you get a lot of space for creativity. Happy writing!
About the Author
Tia is a high school student and has had deep interest in writing for much of her life. As an art teacher at GB Academy preschool, she has gained experience working with children and teaching. Tia has also taught harmonium to children aged 5-8 at the TSG Gurmat School in the triangle area. She has a piece published in the Enloe Eagles’ Eye, the school’s online newspaper and is the captain of the Enloe Women’s Golf Team. In her free time, Tia loves watching Gilmore Girls, reading historical fiction novels, writing poetry, and going for walks!