How to Improve Your Poetry Writing Skills
My interest in writing poetry comes from my love of reading the great poets. With their words they paint a picture as compelling as any real-life experience. Personally I have found poetry to be a great outlet for my creativity, though it’s not always easy to face the blank page.
I am by no means a great poet, but I have picked up a few things that have made me better. In this article I will share them with you. Hopefully it will make things a little less overwhelming for those new to the art.
Read good poetry
The great poets have certain tricks, rhythms, ways of seeing things and formulas that they use in their work. When you read them, really try to break down their work. Understand what they are saying, as well as why and how they are saying it. Read some articles about these poems, to gain more insight into them. Don’t use what you learn to copy the poet’s style, instead use it to improve your own.
Write from the heart, especially in matters of the heart
Good poems come from inside you, your experiences, your perspective, your feelings, you. Stay away from clichés. They just never improve your work. Use your own metaphors. An example of a cliché would be if I wrote: ”My love is a flower”. Everyone’s love is a flower, be more original. Writing from the heart is difficult in the beginning, but with a lot of practice it does start to become easier.
Practice makes perfect
Get some feedback
Taste in poetry varies greatly, have a number of different people read your poems and get some honest feedback from them. Ask the reader specific questions. Find out whether they understand what you were trying to say. When you are not sure about part of a poem, you could show them alternative texts, then ask them which they prefer and why. Don’t get defensive if you get negative criticism, not everyone is going to like your work.
Revise your work
My first draft is almost never very good. I go through a poem again and again, improving it every time. Try putting it down for a couple of days, then take a fresh look at a poem. There are a number of great sites online that can help you with your rhyming. Why not Google “rhyming dictionary” and check it out?
I don't like to put out poems that other people won't benefit from. So before I post or share any of my work I ask myself: "Will people like this and why?" This helps me to filter out weaker poems and I feel that only showing people my best work helps my reputation.
Try the classic forms
Examples would be Sonnets, Haiku, Villanelle and Sestina. Have a bit of fun with the forms. Eventually you probably won’t be using them, but you can learn a lot by playing around with the classic forms and it can be fun.
Make some poet friends
There are many online communities for poets. Make some friends, they are great for support and you can learn much from analysing each other’s work.
Change your sensory input
Carry a notebook around with you. Change up the places you write, the music or sound you listen to and the people you are with. It’s amazing how much your poetry changes when you change up your experiences.
If you don't set goals you will never reach them. Before you write a poem decide what you want the reader to think and feel as they read the poem. Also plan how and when you will spend time writing and revising your poems. Your skills will benefit from a more disciplined approach.
When I write I like to have a good thesaurus, rhyming dictionary and unabridged dictionary. The online versions of these books are OK, but the paper ones give you more detail.
Keep a poet's journal
A journal is a convenient place to write down drafts, keep pictures, ideas, subjects for poems, conversations, maybe even record your dreams.
You can keep a poet's journal either in a notebook, on your laptop or on a voice recorder. Some poet's keep different journals about different topics.
With poetry it's easy to get discourage and then quit. In my opinion the most important this is to keep writing.