Trying Your Hand At Poetry? Here Are Our Tips

Shutterstock / Rido © tips

These three tips are useful to all forms of writing, but when applied to poetry they can really make a huge difference.

Stay inspired

I think that most of the time, ideas don’t come freely because we just aren’t tuned into them.

We need to think up ideas all the time to keep up the flow of our writing, especially with poetry when it might only take a few days to finish it.

If there are no ideas then we aren’t writing, and if we aren’t writing then we can’t improve.

Keep a dedicated notebook for ideas near you at all times. And not just near you, but in your eyeline.

By having it there, you’re training yourself to pay more attention to the ideas pinging around your brain and hopefully start catching them more often.

And don’t judge the idea as a bad one before you’ve written it down — it could be that a rubbish idea sparks a better one at a later date when you look over your notes.

Avoid cliché

It’s always best to avoid worn out phrases no matter what you’re writing, but poetry uses so few words that it’s doubly important.

It wastes space, and it will lead to the reader switching off.

Just think of those times you’ve rolled your eyes at an action film for using the same line as hundreds of others. You can even predict what the next line will be.

You want your poem to be unpredictable, to keep the reader engaged and guessing.

Every line should feel fresh. And the easiest way to make it stale is to use a cliché.

Make it new

This follows on from the last point.

Ask yourself whether there’s a more interesting way to say something.

For example, “Tyger Tyger, burning bright” is very familiar to us now, but take it in as though you’re the first person to read those words.

Not only is it an interesting way to describe a tiger, but it also fits the themes of the poem – the awe of God’s creation and the existence of evil. All summed up in just four words! That’s the beauty of poetry!

Imagine if William Blake had written “The Tyger with stripy fur” . . .

Just try playing around with a couple of lines to see what you can come up with!

You can find more poetry tips by clicking here.

For our poetry submission guide, click 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.