My Tips for Writing Poetry

Have you ever aspired to try your hand at writing poetry? I am not claiming to be an expert, but here are a few tips and suggestions to get you started if you ever wanted to take a shot.

1). Start small. You can start with just one or two verses and see how it feels. Or start with a haiku, which is only three lines totaling 17 syllables (the first line is 5 syllables, the second line is 7 syllables, and the third line is 5 syllables like the first). I know it sounds confusing but it’s easier than it sounds and there are many examples online to follow.

2). Start reading more poetry to see if there is a particular cadence or style that resonates with you. That might spark some inspiration. And even if it doesn’t you may just have a new favorite poet to follow.

3). It doesn’t have to rhyme. That is my particular style but there are many variations of poems that do not rhyme, including the haiku that I mentioned above.

4). Speaking of rhyming, don’t be afraid to take advantage of online tools. I go to all the time. You just type in a word and it lists all of the possible rhyming words and breaks them down into syllables. Sometimes seeing something listed will spike inspiration. I also use online tools to help me find synonyms.

5). Not everything has to be epic or profound. When I used to sit down to write something I felt like it needed to be 10 versus or more to really count. I have since relaxed on that and realized that you can get your point across with just 2 or 3 versus. Some of the best songs from our past have the simplest lyrics…think of “Wake Up Little Suzie” or “Sitting on the dock of the bay”. One of my lyrical heroes, the late Neil Peart of Rush wrote epic songs like “2112” and “Natural Science”, but he also wrote “I think I’m going bald”. Sure, the guys in Led Zeppelin wrote “Stairway to Heaven”, but they also wrote “The Lemon Song”. Enough said.

6). Try to tell a story. Think about some of the classic stories in poem form like “Twas the night before Christmas”, or the much darker “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe. Even song lyrics can tell a story, like “Lyin’ Eyes” by the Eagles or Don McLean’s “American Pie”.

7). Don’t be married to a concept. Many times I have started to write something and the words take me into an entirely different direction and I end up with something unexpected. Sometimes just relaxing and letting the words find their own way to the paper makes the most surprising and rewarding poem.