Tips for Writing Poetry


March 23, 2020

Alisha Galbraith

“But has anyone told you that you’re a good writer?” 

I was at a casual interview in a small Missouri town, sitting across from a big bearded guy, late twenties, CEO of a big online retail company in that small town that needed a blogger. I needed a side job and I had just told him that I am a good writer. 

To which he asked, “But has anyone told you that you’re a good writer?” 

And I kind of sat there mulling over several responses in my head before settling on an apologetic, “well…I got A’s in all my college English classes, so I guess if that counts?”

What I had thought and wished I said was: I don’t need anyone to tell me that I’m a good writer. I know I’m a good writer. 

So…what makes a good writer?

  1. you like to write, so you write
  2. you set aside time to practice writing
  3. you realize that not everything you write will be worth reading, but you write anyway
  4. you read other artist’s writing, but don’t copy it
  5. you push yourself in your writing and find new ways to express yourself

That’s it. That’s what makes a good “writer”, in my opinion 🙂

Everyone has their own method of writing–for me, I like to put on some music and dance a bit to get my energy moving and flowing, cleanse my space with some Palo Santo, and open the windows if it’s nice. Then I’ll turn off my music and write for thirty minutes. The morning is best for me. Sometimes I’ll use prompts and sometimes I’ll write exactly what I’m feeling down. I’ll circle words I want to go back to and find another way to say it. I’ll use the notes in my phone to write as inspiration comes (often in the shower or when I’m doing things on auto-pilot).

Tips for writing poetry

  1. Remember that poetry is subjective and open to interpretation. There isn’t really a “wrong” way to write poetry.
  2. But if you WANT structured poetry, look up different types of poems; haiku, prose, etc. This post shares over 15 types.
  3. Don’t overthink it, just write. You can go back and edit later.
  4. Avoid cliches and common phrases–find a different way to describe it.
  5. Like using your senses to describe things–one of my favorite ways to write is to use taste to describe things that are physically impossible to eat, or sound to describe things we don’t normally hear. This poem describes grief in “seasons” which is just genius.
  6. change your adjectives into a story: instead of saying “I felt angry” you could say, “my skin felt like fire”.
  7. get a rhythm going: some people do this by putting on music. I just start writing and if I get stuck, I count the syllables in each line so I know how many syllables my next line should have. Example: line one has ten syllables, the second line has 12, so the next line should have 10 as well. This poem is a good example.
  8. Don’t be afraid to keep it short or cut out parts that are GOOD. use them to write another poem later.
  9. be inspired by others, but don’t copy–so read other poetry, but I don’t normally read poetry before I write at all.

That’s it for now! ♥