Erin's Poetry Tips

40 tips to poetry and poetry forums

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Get yourself going

We all go through periods of writer's block, when it seems as though there's simply nothing to write, and yet, we need to write. Here are some suggestions as to how to spark your creativity.

One of my favorite things to do is to pull out some old poetry that I've written, and revise/rewrite it. Many times what makes this such a useful exercise is that I remember what inspired me to write the poem in the first place. Trying to tap in to that emotion can be helpful in the creative process.

It's also fun to try to approach the same subject from a different point of view or with a different style of writing and see if I can come up with a whole new poem.

Choose a word or subject and spend 5 minutes writing down all the words/imagery/ideas you get from that word. Don't worry at this point about poetry, just let words and ideas flow. At the end of those 5 minutes, go back through and find what you like, and build on it.

Spend some time looking for a picture that you like. Whether it's a photograph, a painting, a magazine ad, it doesn't matter, just find one that intrigues you on some level, and write a poem inspired by that picture. Another variation of this is to find a movie or television program that interests you. I have written a fair share of poetry based on programs that interested me on the Discovery Channel, but you may be just as inspired by 24 or Law & Order.

Have a favorite singer or genre of music that inspires you? This may be the time to wake up your muse with a song. Try listening to a song that reminds you of a particular time in your life, or that has a mental connection to a particular person or place for you. Songs are poetry set to music, listening to some good lyrics is no different than reading poetry that inspires you.

"Hodgepodge" Poetry
Read other people's poetry, glean ideas, images, or interesting words from various pieces, and build something of your own. Be careful when doing this one, you don't want to plagiarize from someone else, just use them as a spring board.

Go to the Park
Go somewhere that you can be away from your usual every day environment. Take a walk in the woods, a drive in the mountains, a hike in the park – or sit on a park bench for that matter – just remove yourself from the normal setting and see what nature has to offer. Take in the sights, sounds, smells, jot them down, whether in single words, phrases, or whole poems.

Go to the Mall
Do exactly like the afore mentioned suggestion, but go people watching instead. Human Nature can be just as vivid and interesting as Mother Nature.

Magnetic Poetry
Have you ever tried magnetic poetry? It may sound silly and immature, but when you’re running low on words, there’s a whole box of them to play with. The available words may be limited, but you can always build onto whatever ideas are started with the magnetic poetry set. If you don’t have a set, there are sites online that offer similar activities.
(Be careful not to get swindled, has magnetic poetry contests, I love to use their site, but I never submit the poem, because they’re a scam site/vanity press)

Experiment with New Forms
Haiku, Tanka, Rondeau, Sonnet, Concrete Poetry – try something new. Sometimes conforming to the rules of a new form make you forget that you’re out of ideas. Can’t quite meet the requirements of a Patrarchian Sonnet? That’s ok too, revise what you’ve started with – this is your work now, and the important part was to write something – it doesn’t have to stay a sonnet!


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