Some Writing Tips For Our Poets

Shutterstock / Dean Drobot © poets

While we post lots of fiction writing tips on our blog, I realised that we don’t have much for any prospective poets.

So, here are my top three tips for writing poetry!

Read constantly

It’s the golden rule of writing anything: do your reading.

Imagine being asked to build a house without ever having seen one.

Read all kinds of poets, and all kinds of poetry — the good and the bad, the old and the new.

It might seem strange to seek out bad poetry, but just as important as learning what makes a good poem, is learning what makes a bad one!

If you’re submitting your poem to the “Friend” or somewhere else, make sure you understand the readers and what they like to read.

First is not best

We love rhymes at the “Friend”, but the trick to a good one is to make sure that it isn’t forced.

You’ll be able to tell because it probably doesn’t make much sense with the line that came before it. Or maybe it does . . . but only if you squint.

Write down the initial words that come to you, but don’t think of it as the final version.

A good idea is to put the poem away for a week (or even a month) and come back to it with fresh eyes. Or give it to a trusted friend — someone who isn’t afraid to give constructive criticism.

Rework it. Your first draft is just the rough sketch.

Find a rhythm

Poetry is meant to be spoken aloud, so read it out to yourself. Don’t be shy!

This is a great way to find lines that are too wordy and to test the rhythm. If it doesn’t flow on the tongue, it won’t flow on the page.

This is also handy when it comes to writing dialogue!

For our poetry submission guidelines, click here.

Experiment with different types of poetry with my Poetry Prompts series here.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.