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beginners guide to poetry writing

beginners guide to poetry writing

Poetry can be a difficult style of writing to get into, hopefully this short guide will help the complete beginner to get to grips with writing their first poem.

Firstly, try to read and listen to as much poetry as you can, as you can hardly expect to start writing master pieces when you have not read any. Make notes of well-written lines and interesting word usage, not with the intention to plagiarise, of course, but as an example of the style of poetry you would prefer to write. In addition, to reading a lot of poetry you must also write it as well. The best way to learn is to practice, and more importantly, you should try to challenge yourself and leave your comfort zone where possible. You'll be an expert in no time.

It is likely that you already know that not all poetry has to rhyme. However, if you decide to use rhyme in your poetry there are a few methods to consider. Think carefully about how best to effectively use rhyme in your poetry, it can occur at any point in the line not just the end. In fact, rhyming at the end of a line can be restrictive and is not always the best option. Assonance (rhyming part of the word) can also be effective and means you have a wider range of vocabulary to work with.

You should try to make your poetry emotive, poets often use intense moments from there own lives as inspiration for a poem. For example, the death of a relative, a fear of heights or a lost love. It is easier to write about these things if you have experienced them first hand. Also, generally speaking, the more recent the emotion is the stronger the impact on the reader. The flow and the language of the piece should try to reflect and capture the mood and the emotion you are writing about. Certain words are soft, others are sharp, some are aggressive and yet others are passive. It really is down to you as the writer to decide what feeling or emotion you want a word to convey, if any, and then use it to your advantage.

When writing poetry your aim should be to get the reader to consider what is between the lines as what is left unsaid, what is only implied, is often the most important. This will get the reader thinking and ultimately give them greater joy. Also, people will often take different things away from the poetry and therefore form different ideas regarding what it is about. As a beginner it may be easier to pick a topic or subject from the physical world to work on achieving this subtle style of writing, then as you develop you will no doubt move on to things like emotions and feelings which can sometimes be hard to describe in this way

As a beginner try to avoid falling into the trap of using clichés​ in your poetry. This may be difficult at first but as you grow as a poet it will become increasingly important to you and your readers to avoid them. Therefore, its good practice to start as you mean to go on. For example, if you are writing about love its a good idea to list all the clichés you can think of on the topic and then disregard them all. The reason for this is that if your poetry is full of clichés there really is nothing original about it and this will likely cause readers to forget it very quickly.

Your skills and your writing should be constantly evolving, to ensure this when you have finished a piece of poetry try reading it back out loud and watch for any any lines or phases that don't quite fit. Once you have done this try reading it to someone else and ask them whether they notice anything that could be improved. When you have done this leave it alone for a few days and go back to it, because it is no longer as fresh in your mind as when you first wrote it, you may feel very different about it this time.

Be careful when returning to a poem at a later date, that you don't then over edit or change it just for the sake of it, this can actually be harder than it sounds depending on how much of a perfectionist you are.

Just remember when its finished its finished.

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