A Comprehensive Guide On How To Start Writing Your Own Poetry
This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s fall editorial intern Hannah Yarrington. Find her on Instagram at @513hny. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you were anything like me growing up, I honestly used to hate poetry. It mainly stemmed from the fact that I didn’t really understand the poems I was reading, and the ones they gave us in school talked about topics in such a roundabout way that they just frustrated me. But as I’ve gotten older, maybe also taken a creative writing course here and there, I’ve grown to appreciate the art that is poetry, and I’ve been able to learn so much about the craft. I’ve even written quite a few different poems myself. So today, I’m going to teach you guys how to write some poetry, maybe how to start a poetry Instagram, and just all the ins and outs that go along with it.
What is poetry?
When it comes to writing your own poetry, I think it’s essential to have a good understanding of what poetry is. I like to describe poetry as a form of literature that seeks to invoke the reader’s emotions and imagination. The poet does this using many different devices, such as the use of rhythm, rhyme schemes, meter, and sound, as well as figurative language to aid in painting a picture in the reader’s mind (see what I did there).
But all of this is subjective, and all poems most definitely do not have to have a rhyme scheme or need to sound like a song. They can be choppy if the topic calls for it; they can be super intricate, fluffy, or straight to the point. Poetry has no specified rules, so defining poetry is difficult because you can basically do whatever you want. So, my best advice to do before you start writing is to read. Read as much poetry as you can to get a good sense of what other people do, and hopefully, a poem will stick out and inspire you.
Step 1: Figure out your topic
So, after you’ve read through a few different poems, hopefully, it kind of gave you a general idea of the topic you want to write about. This can be a particular image, thought, or feeling you’ve had in your own experiences that you want to discuss to get you started. If you’re still struggling to find a topic, think about events that have happened that have stuck out to you, go out into nature and just sit and observe, or think about the little small and mundane details of life that can be expanded on.
Step 2: Figure out the form
I’m not going to lie; there are a ton of different types of poem forms out there. There are lyrics, sonnets, epics, haikus, and so many more, and I think the easiest way to decide what form to use is what you personally like reading. Do you enjoy reading super long, drawn-out poems that tell a story? Try writing an epic. Or, if you like poems that are short, sweet, and to the point, try writing a tanka. Just try to emulate what speaks to you as a writer and reader.
Step 3: Start Writing
There is no time like the present when it comes to starting your poem, and it’s best not to overthink it. The first poem you attempt to write will most likely not be the end result, and there will probably be multiple versions you write before you get to your final draft. The first sentence is always the hardest, and there are a few different ways to get started.
Sometimes, I like to start with one word that generally encompasses what I’m trying to talk about in the rest of the poem to get some creative juices flowing. If that doesn’t work, try to set the scene and describe some sensory details the reader can imagine. If the setting is not essential to the poem, describe what your narrator is thinking or has on the forefront of their mind. And if all else fails, try going back to the poems you’ve read before and see how they started their poems.
Step 4: Edit
After you’ve written your poem, the final step would be to edit it. When it comes to editing poetry, I implore you to read your poem out loud to yourself. Historically, poetry was meant to be read out loud so you can hear all those different rhymes, rhythms, and sounds that make it unique. When you do that, you can also hear where some of your lines don’t flow right, and it causes you to focus more on each word you’ve written, which also helps you detect typos. Have another set of eyes look at your poem, too, if you can, and get some feedback on how others see your writing.
If you want to get your poetry out in the world for people to read, you can always try submitting your work to various literary magazines or even start your own poetry Instagram. There are lots of resources, like Canva, for example, where you can type up your poetry with pretty fonts and aesthetic backgrounds and post them to your Instagram. I would suggest having a consistent theme with what kind of poems you post so your followers know what to expect from your content. Share it with your friends and family, and maybe repost your poem on your main Instagram to get more attraction if you want.
Have you ever tried to write your own poetry? What did you think of these tips for writing and how to start a poetry Instagram? Let us know!