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Writing Poetry: Inspiration, Tips, and Encouragement
Inspiration Is Everywhere
Look Around You
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to find inspiration when trying to write a poem is to simply look around you. Poetry is free and liberating. There are no rules, no boundaries. Are you at a fire with your best friends? Let the flames be your guide. When you're driving along on your favorite route take the clouds and transform them into words. The rain falling on your car window is a poem sliding down your windshield. Inspiration is everywhere! Take your favorite moments, feelings, places, and people and capture them in an everlasting way - a poem.
Make Your Own Rules
Classes in college or tutorials online will try to tell you how to write a poem. Don't get me wrong, I've had fantastic teachers guide me with my poetry. I've sat through countless peer editing sessions and read various comments from students that helped grade my work. Sure, there are rhyming schemes, line breaks, and layouts. Poets, however, have rebellious blood flowing through their veins. Though we can respect the rules laid out before us, we don't necessarily have to follow them. Do what feels right when drafting and editing poetry. Do you love rhyming? Use those a b a b rhyme schemes found in so many classics! Do you like suspense? Leave your readers wanting more as each line break drops off at the most unexpected and surprising moment of the poem. Start a new stanza whenever you please. Indent your lines, play with punctuation and capital/lowercase letters. Change up the tones and topics of your writing. You've spent your whole life following essay formats and grammar rules. This is your chance to break free and express yourself! Poetry means variety, and that is the beautiful thing about the genre.
The most important part of poetry is the depth of emotion that a writer can put into a few short lines. Poems can be one line, poems can be three pages. Regardless of length, a poem is a mood, feeling, or moment that a writer experiences. Express yourself through your poetry! Poetry is bitching on paper, feeling through words, and remembering forever. Write down the things you never thought that you could say. Your poem is your best friend, waiting for you to share secrets. Poetry can be deep and dark, or light and humorous. Your style can change from day to day. Do not limit yourself to one tone or style. Explore your options! Find out what is right for you.
Random Thoughts Are Gold
Capture Your Thoughts
Take advantage of your thoughts. Notice your surroundings and your feelings. Does a theme or topic strike you to be inspiring? Maybe your laying down to fall asleep and a beautiful rhyme scheme pops into your head. Write these things down! Keep a small notebook with you, carry sticky notes and a pen, or my personal favorite: the notepad on my iPhone. You'd be surprised how much these can come in handy. You can put them away for days or weeks, or maybe even forget all about them. However, when you're trying to put a poem together and you run out of ideas or inspirations these topics or one lined phrases that you jotted down could be a saving grace. Creativity can strike when you least expect it. Make sure you're ready!
Poetry is different than most other writing genres. Don't be afraid to push boundaries. This is your chance to be creative, and take a step away from the serious sides of research and technical writing. Put your true thoughts and observations onto paper. Write things that your friends and family would never expect to hear from your mouth. Let them ponder who or what the poems are about and admire this new, edgy side of their loved one. Look at the world in a way that you never had before. Embrace the lights in your life and notice the darkness. This is why no two poems are the same. Everyone sees the world in a different light.
Reading other author's poetry is the best way to explore the world of this genre. Being that there are so many different ways to approach poetry, the only way to take them all in is to read them. Look at different styles and take notes of your favorites. You can take bits and pieces of the techniques that you liked and incorporate them into your own poetry (in your own way, of course!). It's been said that the best way to improve your own writing is by reading. Set aside a few minutes each day to read a poem or two. Include it into your morning and/or night routine.
Write For Yourself
As a writer, you know that it is crucial to keep your audience in mind when putting a piece together. This is also true for poetry. You want to make sure that your audience will know what they are reading. Have a friend or peer read through it. Sometimes when you have an image or concept in your mind it doesn't translate to writing as smoothly as we expect. We know what we're writing about. A second pair of eyes will ensure that your ideas are coming across clearly. However, though keeping your audience in mind it is very important to write for yourself. Ignore the mainstream topics, the social stigmas, the way society tells you to feel. Don't write what you're expected to write. Write what you want to write. Write about your passions and dreams... your life. Someone somewhere will be able to relate, and the world needs a glimpse into your mind rather than the days most popular celebrity.
Push On, My Poet!
Like I said before, there are no set rules for writing poetry that you have to follow. Poetry is free and liberating. Don't be afraid to share your poetry with the world. Let your friends, family, and teachers read them and share their thoughts. Take every comment with what it is, but do not let negativity get you down. Criticism leads to growth. Not everyone will like your writing, just as you don't like every style of writing that you read. With poetry, being that there are so many different topics and styles you can take advantage of, each reader is looking for something different. Keep your head up, poet! Someone out there is looking for exactly what you are writing. Don't be afraid to revise a poem two, three, or even four times. A poem is not carved into stone. And when you feel like a poem is everything you desire, set out to publish it. Don't give up! Don't take no for an answer. No go and write!