Welcome back to Author’s Digest! Today we’d like to offer some tips about a genre that we don’t visit very often: poetry. Admittedly, these kinds of “one size fits all” tips are a bit unfair to the genre; poetry has numerous styles, each with its own conventions and expectations.
However, just as we can offer tips that are applicable to fiction as a whole, we can also offer poetry tips–let’s call them “suggestions” instead–that new, self-published poets may find useful. And with Valentine’s Day tomorrow, what better time to give poetry a try? As always, try them on for size, keep them if they fit, and discard them if they don’t.
With that, AuthorHouse presents five suggestions for aspiring poets:
Read and write each day: Okay, let’s get the easy one out of the way first. As in all other genres of writing, you should try to read and write poetry each day. What poems speak to you? Why? And even if you don’t work on a poem each day, make sure to jot down some thoughts, ideas, feelings… anything that gets your gears turning a little.
What is your goal? As with almost any endeavor in life, it helps if you have a purpose in mind for your poem. What are trying to convey? An event in your life, a feeling (positive or negative), or something else? Once you’ve decided what your poem is about, you can make sure that every element in the poem serves that theme.
Avoid cliches and overused expressions. If there’s one genre of writing where expressions are prone to overuse, it’s poetry. Readers notice this; if they feel like they’ve already heard everything you have to say, they’ll quickly lose interest. Every feeling and emotion under the sun has already been written about, but your goal should be to find a new way to write about it–your unique voice.
Rewrite, and read aloud: Your poem will rarely be the best it can be the first time around. By all means, write freely when composing your first draft–let your thoughts and feelings flow onto the paper, without hindrance. But then rewrite, fine-tuning sentence length, word use, etc. And try reading your poem aloud! It’s a great way to determine if it has the rhythm you desire.
Write about what you know–and don’t know: On one hand, your own experiences are probably the most valuable resources you can tap for your poetry. Use them! But on the other hand, don’t be afraid to delve into matters you haven’t experienced. You’re writing a poem, not performing surgery; don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. The most important thing is to enjoy your writing!
We hope that all you new, aspiring poets out there have found this useful.